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Boy Scouts Rethink Gay Ban

The Scouts said Monday it was considering a new policy that would let local scouting groups determine their own policies about allowing participation by openly gay people, according to their own “mission, principles, or religious beliefs.” The change will be discussed next week by the organization’s national board, a Scouts spokesman said. The surprise move came just six months after the Scouts drew a line in the sand to underscore the ban on gay scouts and troop leaders, which the organization had gone to the Supreme Court to defend. WSJ reports the court ruled 5-4 in favor of the Scouts in 2000. The Scouts’ turnabout highlights how quickly American attitudes on gay rights are shifting. Last year, President Barack Obama publicly supported same-sex marriage, and voters in three states decided to permit gay weddings.

Madoff Investors Can’t Sue The SEC, Says Court

A group of investors who lost money in Mr. Madoff’s massive fraud can’t pursue a lawsuit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission despite a finding by the regulator’s inspector general that the agency missed several opportunities to uncover the fraud, the appeals court has ruled. The investors alleged the SEC, through negligence and omission, allowed Mr. Madoff’s Ponzi scheme to “continue, perpetuate and expand.” The investors claimed they relied in part on “the SEC’s implied stamp of approval” when they trusted their money with Mr. Madoff. On Monday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit upheld a lower court’s decision that the investors are prohibited under the Federal Tort Claims Act from pursuing claims against the securities regulator. “We conclude that the district court correctly concluded that it lacked jurisdiction to entertain appellants’ claims,” the court found.

Federal, State Regulators Shut Down Pyramid Scheme

The Federal Trade Commission and three state attorneys general announced Monday that they shut down a national multilevel marketing company they called a “global pyramid scheme” because recruiting others was the only way to make money, USA Today reportsFortune Hi-Tech Marketing of Lexington, Ky., and its top two executives were sued by the FTC and the attorneys general of Kentucky, North Carolina and Illinois for “unfair and deceptive actions” that violated state and federal laws. Among the charges: misrepresenting that the company is “a good way for average people to make substantial income and achieve financial independence.”  The company used testimonials to try to lure its sales force. Some Fortune representatives claimed they earned more than 10 times as much as their previous incomes by their second year with the marketing company, authorities said. One person claimed that another representative earned more than $50,000 in his sixth month and millions of dollars in later years. 

Judge To Rule On BP’s Plea Deal Over Gulf Spill

A federal judge will decide whether to approve an agreement for BP PLC to plead guilty to manslaughter and other charges and pay a record $4 billion in criminal penalties for the company’s role in the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance on Tuesday will either accept the deal and impose the sentence negotiated by BP and the Justice Department, or reject the sentence and allow the company to withdraw from the agreement. Before ruling, Vance is expected to hear testimony from relatives of 11 workers who died when BP’s blown-out Macondo well triggered an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. BP agreed in November to plead guilty to charges involving the workers’ deaths and for lying to Congress.

FBI: Gun Background Checks Peaked After Newtown Tragedy

The FBI said Monday it conducted more background checks for firearms sales and permits to carry guns the week following the Newtown, Conn., shooting massacre that it has in any other one-week period since 1998. The second highest week for background checks came earlier this month as President Barack Obama announced sweeping plans to curb gun violence. The FBI started keeping track of federally mandated background checks in 1998. The newly released FBI data confirms what many gun dealers around the country have said about sales going up after the deadly Connecticut shooting that left 27 dead, including 20 children, as gun enthusiasts braced for stricter controls. The number of background checks does not represent the number of firearms purchased, but gun manufacturers use these statistics to measure the health of the gun industry in the U.S.

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