News in Brief: Divisive DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee to Resign, and More

DC Schools Chief Michelle Rhee to Resign

Michelle Rhee, controversial chancellor of the Washington, DC, public school system, will announce her resignation today, according to The New York Times. Rhee, whose clashes with teacher’s unions, institution of merit pay reform and closure of dozens of schools made her the darling of the conservative school reform movement, is resigning. In the interim, she will be replaced by Deputy Chancellor Kaya Henderson. George Parker, the head of the Washington Teachers’ Union, said that her leaving would help end “divisiveness” in the DC school system.

Study: Health Insurance Denial for Pre-Existing Conditions Up by 49 Percent

Democracy Now! reports that a new study from the House Energy and Commerce Committee “says the number of people denied medical coverage because of pre-existing conditions has grown by nearly half.” One controversial policy includes automatic denial for anyone who is pregnant. While recently outlawed as part of the sweeping health insurance reform proposal, that provision of the law “doesn’t kick in until 2014.”

First Civilian Trial for Guantanamo Detainee Opens

The trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani, suspected of helping build a bomb used in the 1998 bombing of an US embassy, began Wednesday, the AP reports. Ghailani, who is also suspected to be a member of al-Qaeda, is accused of buying the gas tanks and truck that were used to kill over 220 people, including dozens of Americans. While his lawyer argues that Ghailani was “duped” and simply was running errands “for longtime friends he believed were legitimate businessmen – not terrorists,” the prosecutors argue he was “a vital member of that cell … [and] committed to al-Qaida’s overriding goal: killing Americans.”

Majority of Voters Support Viable Third Party

According to a poll conducted by The Hill in ten House districts, a majority of voters believe a viable third party would be good for politics. “Fifty-four percent of respondents in The Hill 2010 Midterm Election Poll said they’d like an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans,” the report states, “and that number increases to 67 percent for self-identified independents.” Voters are split, though, on whether the Tea Party is that viable alternative.