National briefs: Alabama poll plan to face scrutiny

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WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court said Monday it will review Alabama's legislative reapportionment plan, accepting a challenge from the state's Democrats and African- American legislators that the new plan was an attempt to limit minority effectiveness.

The challengers said the state's ruling Republicans packed too many minority voters into too few districts -- assuring minority representation in those districts but harming the chances for influence elsewhere.

A three-judge federal panel had rejected the challenges filed by the Alabama Legislative Black Caucus and the Alabama Democratic Conference. That court agreed with Alabama, ruling 2 to 1 that the legislature had successfully navigated a "political thicket" by both obeying federal laws and the Constitution regarding redistricting while at the same time ensuring minority representation.

Court rules on weapons law

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that Congress had not meant to authorize prosecutions of minor crimes under a chemical weapons treaty.

"We are reluctant to ignore the ordinary meaning of 'chemical weapon,' " Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for six justices, "when doing so would transform a statute passed to implement the international Convention on Chemical Weapons into one that also makes it a federal offense to poison goldfish."

The decision was unanimous, but three justices did not join the majority's reasoning.

They said they would have rested the decision on constitutional grounds, saying the chemical weapons law covered minor crimes but that Congress had overstepped its constitutional authority by enacting it.

Obama directs aid to border

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Monday declared a wave of unaccompanied children across the U.S.-Mexican border an "urgent humanitarian situation" and directed federal agencies to coordinate a response to provide housing and other services.

Officials said the response will provide the children with medical treatment, food and mental health services.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families, 24,668 unaccompanied minors were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexican border in fiscal 2013. Officials expect the annual number will jump to nearly 60,000 by the end of fiscal 2014.

Officials said most of the children are from Mexico and Central America.

2 kids stabbed in elevator

NEW YORK -- The morning after a man stabbed and killed a 6-year-old boy and critically wounded a 7-year-old girl in an elevator in a housing project in the borough of Brooklyn, the killer remained at-large, and community leaders said the search was being complicated because there was no video surveillance in the building.

Some 12 hours after the brutal and apparently random attack, dozens of police officers swept through the project looking for witnesses.

Even as the police searched for the killer, anger swelled within the community, much of it directed at officials from the New York City Housing Authority.

Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, said in an interview that at least $400,000 had been allocated in 2010 for cameras to be installed in the buildings there but that the housing authority failed to act.

Housing officials disputed when the money for more cameras at the Boulevard Houses was allocated. They said the allocation was made in 2013 to be spent in 2014.

-- Compiled from news services

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