America

Hospitals Told To Allow Same-Sex Visits; Aid Gets To China Quake Victims

Good morning.

There's going to be at least another day of "chaos" for many air travelers, as we just reported, because thousands of flights have been grounded out of concern that particles spewed into the air by a volcanic eruption in Iceland could damage jet engines.

Other stories making headlines include:

Morning Edition — Obama Tells Hospitals To Grant Same-Sex Visitations. "President Obama issued a memorandum Thursday to the Department of Health and Human Services, ordering hospitals to give same-sex couples the right to be with a partner who is sick or dying. The memorandum applies to every hospital that receives Medicare or Medicaid funding — nearly every hospital in the country." NPR's Ari Shapiro reports:

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From a related story by The Washington Post: The decision is " perhaps the most significant step so far in (Obama's) efforts to expand the rights of gay Americans."

— BBC News — "China Rescue Effort Builds After Qinghai Quake": "Soldiers, civilians and Tibetan monks are combing through rubble in Qinghai province, two days after a powerful earthquake hit the remote region. Heavy equipment and aid are arriving in Yushu county, where 791 people are now known to have died and another 294 are missing. Local people say they believe the number of dead is much higher."

Related story on Morning Edition — "Rescuers Comb Quake Rubble," But Challenges Are Difficult: The rescue and recovery effort is difficult because of the high altitude — two miles or so above sea level. Some searchers, and some of their dogs, are suffering from altitude sickness. NPR's Anthony Kuhn spoke with ME host Renee Montagne from the scene:

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— The Associated Press — Jobless Benefits Extended: "Just hours after Congress passed an $18 billion bill to restore unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed, President Barack Obama made it the law of the land. The measure comes as welcome relief to hundreds of thousands of people who lost out on the additional weeks of compensation after exhausting their state-paid benefits. They now will be able to reapply for long-term unemployment benefits and receive those checks retroactively under the legislation."

The New York Times — "C.I.A. Document Details Destruction Of Tapes": "A number of documents released Thursday provide the most detailed glimpse yet of the deliberations inside the C.I.A. surrounding the destroyed tapes (documenting the brutal interrogation of two detainees), and of the concern among officials at the spy agency that the decision might put the C.I.A. in legal jeopardy."

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