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NYC’s disaster plan failed to protect the disabled; Fla. court rules in favor of egg donor

Judge: Disaster plan didn’t protect all

New York City violated laws designed to protect the disabled because its otherwise laudable evacuation plans for emergencies such as Hurricane Sandy or the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks fall short of adequately caring for about 11 percent of the city’s population, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Judge Jesse Furman said the city’s emergency preparedness plans don’t ensure that people with disabilities can evacuate before or during an emergency and fail to provide sufficiently accessible shelters. He said they also do not sufficiently inform the disabled about the availability and location of accessible emergency services.

Furman, ruling in a lawsuit brought by the nonprofit Disability Rights Advocates, found that the city violated the Americans With Disabilities Act and the New York City Human Rights Law.

Furman said there was no evidence the city was intentionally discriminating against people with disabilities.

— Associated Press

High court rules in favor of egg donor

A woman who donated an egg to her lesbian partner can share parental rights to the child, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The 4 to 3 ruling directs a lower court to work out joint custody and visitation details, based on the best interests of the child, a 9-year-old girl.

The woman who bore the child was infertile. Her partner provided the egg, which was fertilized in vitro, the documents said. They raised the girl together until the relationship soured and the birth mother absconded to Australia with the child, the documents said.

The biological mother tracked her down with a private detective and sued for joint custody.

The trial court in Brevard County ruled that the biological mother had no claim to the child under Florida’s assisted reproductive technology statute. An appeals court ruled that both women have parental rights, and a majority in the Florida Supreme Court agreed.

— Reuters

‘Arab’ school mascot draws criticism

A California high school’s dec­ades-old use of an Arab mascot to promote its sports teams has drawn the ire of an Arab American rights group that says the mascot is an offensive caricature, portraying Arabs with a large nose, beard and head covering.

Coachella Valley High School sports teams are dubbed the “Arabs,” which the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee complained in a letter to the school this month plays on harmful stereotypes.

The controversy over the Arab mascot comes as the use of ethnic team names and mascots has gained new prominence with a campaign this year to pressure the National Football League’s Washington Redskins to change their name.

The school, which opened in 1910 and is located in the arid Coachella Valley town of ­Thermal, 125 miles southeast of Los Angeles, originally used the Arab mascot as a nod to the region’s date-growing industry. The date palm is associated with the Middle East.

— Reuters

Rep. Coble won’t seek re­election: Howard Coble, North Carolina’s longest-serving Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, said Thursday that he will not seek reelection next year. Coble, 82, was first elected to the House in 1984. He said he has been plagued by back pain and skin cancer and decided not to run because of his physical limitations. His retirement announcement closely follows those of two other House Republicans, Tim Griffin of Arkansas and Jon Runyan of New Jersey, who have said in recent weeks they would not run in 2014.

Carter’s grandson to run for governor: A grandson of former president Jimmy Carter said Thursday that he plans to run for governor of Georgia, an office once held by his grandfather on his path to the White House. Jason Carter, who serves in the Georgia Senate, will seek the Democratic nomination to challenge Gov. Nathan Deal (R) next year. Georgia has not had a Democratic governor in 12 years.

Connecticut opens Apple-style insurance store: Connecticut opened the nation’s first insurance stores Thursday to help people sign up for coverage. The state is using the brightly lit insurance store in downtown New Britain, modeled on the Apple Store, to fight the perception there are problems with its insurance marketplace that is separate from the flawed federal Web site.

California hunts for walnut thief: Authorities in California are trying to crack the case of a nut thief who made off with 140,000 pounds of walnuts, estimated to be worth $400,000. Investigators say the theft Sunday in the small Central Valley town of Escalon was one of the biggest to hit the booming industry. Rising prices — about $2 per pound — is suspected to be driving the recent walnut thefts.

— From news services

The Freddie Gray case

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