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National News Briefs (Jan. 24 - 30)

1/24/2014, noon
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,’’ he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.’’

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said he doesn’t think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.’’

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,’’ the president said an interview with “The New Yorker’’ magazine.

The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.

The president said he is troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,’’ he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.’’

Sperm Donor

TOPEKA, Kan. — A man who provided sperm to a lesbian couple in response to an online ad is the father of a child born to one of the women and must pay child support, a Kansas judge ruled Wednesday.

Topeka resident William Marotta had argued that he had waived his parental rights and didn’t intend to be a father. Shawnee County District Court Judge Mary Mattivi rejected that claim, saying the parties didn’t involve a licensed physician in the artificial insemination process and thus Marotta didn’t qualify as a sperm donor, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. (Jeff Davis, Topeka Capital Journal/AP)

Urban streets named for MLK still struggle

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Nearly three decades into the observance of Monday’s federal holiday, the continuing decline of the most visible symbols of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy has some calling for a renewed commitment to the hundreds of city streets that bear his name.

In St. Louis, the nonprofit Beloved Streets of America is working to revitalize a downtrodden 6-mile (10-kilometer) stretch of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive marked by vacant lots, crumbling buildings and a preponderance of liquor stores, pawn shops and check-cashing businesses. Project leaders hope to expand the efforts to cities such as Atlanta, Chicago, New York and Seattle.

The group takes its name from King’s advocacy of a "beloved community’’ he hoped would emerge from the nonviolent protests for racial equality of the 1950s and `60s.

Former Urban League official sentenced for fraud

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - A former Columbus Urban League official has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for fraud and identity theft.

Ovell Harrison of Columbus must also pay back more than $85,000 he was accused of stealing from the nonprofit organization. Federal authorities say he created false invoices for work by contractors, then took the Urban League payments for himself.