More Hispanics finish high school

MIAMI - A larger percentage of young Hispanic adults is finishing high school, and the number attending a two-year college has nearly doubled over the last decade, according to Census data released Wednesday.

The percentage of Hispanic 18- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in high school and lack an equivalent degree was 22 percent in 2008, down from 34 percent in 1998. The number attending a two-year college increased 85 percent, from 540,000 in 2000 to one million in 2008.

"It's an amazing level of growth," said Kurt Bauman, chief of the Census Bureau's education branch.

Researchers said the numbers on high school completion were a result of several factors, including targeted efforts to reduce the number of Latino students who drop out, as well as an increasing percentage born and attending all their schooling in the United States. - AP

First-responder radio bill advances

WASHINGTON - The Senate Commerce Committee approved auctioning television airwaves and using the proceeds to build a radio network to avert the communications breakdowns that plagued emergency workers on 9/11 at the World Trade Center.

The bill to establish auctions of airwaves relinquished by TV stations cleared the committee, 21-4. It still needs approval from the full Senate and action in the House.

"On that horrible September day, first responders perished because they could not communicate with each other," committee chairman Jay Rockefeller (D., W.Va.) said before the vote. Under the bill, the United States would auction airwaves voluntarily surrendered by TV station owners. The auctions would raise $28 billion, the Obama administration estimated in February.

- Bloomberg News

2 new elements join periodic table

NEW YORK - Remember the periodic table from high school chemistry? It just got a little bigger. Two new chemical elements, numbers 114 and 116, have been officially recognized by an international committee of chemists and physicists.

The elements - which don't have approved names yet - last for less than a second and join such familiar neighbors as carbon, gold, tin, and zinc.

Paul Karol of Carnegie Mellon University chaired the committee that recognized the new elements, based on experiments done in 2004 and 2006 by a collaboration of scientists from Russia and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Over the last 250 years, new elements have been added about once every 2.5 years, Karol said. - AP

Elsewhere:

Jurors began deliberating Wednesday in the Chicago terrorism trial of businessman Tahawwur Rana. He is accused of providing cover for onetime Philadelphian David Coleman Headley, who admitted scouting sites for the deadly 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D., Ariz.) turned 41 Wednesday, five months after she was shot in the head in a Tucson shooting rampage. A small party was held at her Houston hospital room, spokesman C.J. Karamargin said, and "she continues to make amazing progress."