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Updated: Sat, 02 Nov 2013 04:17:50 EST

NATIONAL GUARD-MARRIAGES Ga. Guard still refusing same-sex benefits ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia National Guard has indicated it will continue to ignore federal directives to guarantee certain benefits to same-sex spouses. U.S. Defense Secretary has chided states, which include Georgia, who have found ways to deny spousal benefits that he Pentagon says should be guaranteed. The federal rules comply with a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The Georgia Department of Defense released a statement Friday to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution repeating its position after Hagel sharpened his criticism earlier this week. The statement says, in full: The State of Georgia does not recognize same sex marriages and is not authorizing the Georgia National Guard to process the applications for same-sex married benefits at state facilities. Any personnel seeking to apply for same-sex married benefits will be referred to federal facilities. KENNESAW STATE MERGER Technical college merging into Kennesaw State ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia higher education leaders are expected this month to approve plans to fold a Marietta technical college into Kennesaw State University. The state's university system chancellor, Hank Huckaby, will ask the Board of Regents to approve the merger of Southern Polytechnic State University with the existing Kennesaw State University. The merger is the latest in a series of consolidations across the system. State officials say the mergers strengthen the combined campuses and save money on administration and operations. But The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the move shocked Southern Poly's 6,500 students. MILITARY COLLEGE Retired general takes helm of Ga. Military College MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. (AP) — A freshly retired Army general has taken over as president of Georgia Military College. Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV was tapped for the job earlier this year and officially began his duties on Friday. The Macon Telegraph reports that Caldwell's 37-year active military career officially ended Friday, allowing him to begin the job at the Milledgeville campus. The 59-year-old Caldwell is a native of Columbus and graduate of the United State Military Academy at West Point. He succeeds retiring Maj. Gen. Peter J. Boylan. The military institute includes a junior college and preparatory school for middle and high school students. His career included an appointment at the White House. He also commanded the 82nd Airborne Division that was dispatched to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. PEOPLE-KEVIN HART Kevin Hart speak as part of Dream Protect Tour ATLANTA (AP) — Comedian Kevin Hart and journalist Soledad O'Brien expect to take part in the Dream Protected Tour this weekend. Essence Magazine's Cori Murray, TV host A.J. Calloway and Cynthia Butler-McIntyre of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority will also be speaking at the event, which will be held Sunday at the Fox Theatre. The tour will make appearances in several other cities including Phoenix, Chicago and Denver. The tour is designed to incorporate life coaching tips, entertainment performances and Q&As with celebrities. GEORGIA SUSPECT CAPTURED Iowa troopers capture Georgia murder suspect GLENWOOD, Iowa (AP) — An armed 25-year-old man wanted on a murder arrest warrant from Georgia has been captured in western Iowa. Iowa State Patrol troopers say they took 25-year-old Courtni Thomas into custody without incident around 5 p.m. Thursday. His vehicle had been stopped about four miles north of the Glenwood exit on Interstate 29. Georgia authorities who were tracking Thomas' cellphone signal alerted the Iowa patrol when his vehicle crossed from Missouri into Iowa. A handgun was found in the car. Georgia authorities say Thomas, of Hapeville, is suspected in the slaying of 23-year-old Shevonta Hardwick. Her body was found Thursday morning at an apartment in Hapeville, an Atlanta suburb. A Mills County jailer said Thomas remained in custody on Friday, pending a hearing on his return to Georgia.

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