National briefs: Rice will not address Rutgers

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NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had been invited to give the commencement address at Rutgers University in New Jersey this month, said Saturday she no longer would give the speech. Her announcement came after weeks of protests by some students and faculty members over the university's decision to invite her.

Protesters argued Ms. Rice should not have been selected as the speaker because of her involvement in the Iraq War during the George W. Bush administration.

On Saturday, Ms. Rice released a statement saying that she did not want to detract from the day's festivities.

President Robert L. Barchi had defended the university's selection of Ms. Rice, saying that it was important for Rutgers to protect free speech and academic freedom.

Biden speaks on immigration

MIAMI -- Vice President Joe Biden extolled immigration as crucial to American innovation Saturday at a college graduation ceremony in South Florida.

The Miami Dade College graduates from two campuses and their families, 2,000 strong, cheered as a procession of 39 flags from their home countries entered the gym and opened the program. Mr. Biden acknowledged he was addressing many immigrants and the children and grandchildren of immigrants, many from South America and the Caribbean.

Mr. Biden said a "constant, substantial stream of immigrants" is important to the American economy, urging citizenship for immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Ark. AG will defend ban

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said Saturday he supports allowing same-sex couples to wed but will continue defending his state's 2004 ban on gay marriages in court.

Mr. McDaniel, a Democrat serving his final year as the state's top attorney, became the first statewide official in Arkansas to back same-sex marriage.

Voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, but that ban and others nationwide are facing legal challenges.

"I'm going to zealously defend our constitution, but at the same time I think it's important to let people where I stand on the matter," McDaniel said.

WHCA honors black reporter

WASHINGTON -- Harry McAlpin, who became a fixture at the White House during the Roosevelt and Truman administrations, never got a White House Correspondents' Association membership. But now, in its centennial year, the WHCA is honoring the first black reporter to attend a presidential news conference with a scholarship bearing his name.

The scholarship was to be presented Saturday night during the WHCA's annual dinner with President Barack Obama.

"Harry McAlpin is someone who should be recognized and shouldn't be forgotten," National Journal correspondent George Condon, the association's unofficial historian, said this week.

Also in the nation ...

Canonsburg-based Consol Energy is blaming reduced global demand for metallurgical coal for the layoffs of 188 workers at a southwest Virginia mine. ... General Motors is recalling 51,640 SUVs because the fuel gauges may show inaccurate readings. ... The subway rail that snapped and caused a train to derail Friday, injuring 19 passengers and stranding hundreds underground, was installed just weeks before the accident, the Metropolitan Transit Authority said Saturday.


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