National digest: Plans to buy helicopters canceled; Hawaii legalizes same-sex marriage

November 13, 2013
DEFENSE
Plans to buy more helicopters canceled

The Defense Department said Wednesday it is canceling plans to buy additional cargo helicopters from the Russian arms export agency that has supplied Syrian President Bashar al-
Assad’s military forces with arms and ammunition.

The additional 15 Russian-built Mi-17 helicopters were to be purchased next year at a cost of $345 million and then delivered to Afghanistan’s national security forces. A growing number of lawmakers from both political parties objected to acquiring military gear from Rosoboron­export, which has provided Assad’s regime with weapons used against Syrian civilians.

— Associated Press

HAWAII
State legalizes same-sex marriage

Hawaii’s governor on Wednesday signed into law a bill extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in the state.

With the signing by Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D), Hawaii became the 15th state to legalize marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The measure, which takes effect on Dec. 2, gained final approval from the state legislature on Tuesday.

Illinois’s General Assembly gave final approval to a same-sex marriage bill on Nov. 5. Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is expected to sign that measure later this month.

— Reuters

OHIO
Execution delayed to study organ donation

Ohio Gov. John Kasich delayed a condemned child killer’s execution on Wednesday to study the feasibility of allowing the man to donate his organs.

Kasich’s decision came less than 24 hours before Ronald Phillips, 40, was scheduled to die for raping and killing his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter in Akron in 1993. Phillips’ execution was reset to July 2.

In stopping Thursday’s execution, Kasich said he wants to allow time to study Phillips’s last-minute request to see if it can help someone else.

If Phillips is found to be a viable donor to his mother, who has kidney disease and is on dialysis, or others awaiting organ transplants of non-vital organs, those procedures would be performed and then he would be returned to death row, the governor’s office said.

Phillips made his request to be an organ donor on Monday after he had been denied mercy by Kasich and his other legal options were exhausted.

— Associated Press

NEW JERSEY
Settlement approved in discrimination case

Officials in a southern New Jersey town approved a settlement Wednesday to end a high-profile housing discrimination case, just weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court was to hear arguments on it.

Under the agreement with Mount Holly Township, a group of residents of the Mount Holly Gardens neighborhood would be able to get homes in a new development or money if they choose to move elsewhere.

The litigation goes back to 2002, when the township supported a redevelopment plan to buy and then raze the modest brick homes in the blighted neighborhood and replace them with new homes, apartments and stores. Residents sued, saying they would not be able to afford to live in the new development.

— Associated Press

Appeals court to rehear University of Texas case: A white woman who claims the University of Texas improperly denied her admission because of race is getting a second hearing before a federal appeals court. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to take another look at whether the school’s race-based admissions policy remains necessary to ensure a diverse student body. Abigail Fisher was denied admission in 2008. The appeals court had initially denied her appeal. The court was meeting Wednesday in Austin, where the university is based.

Four Marines killed in base accident: Four Marines were killed Wednesday in an accident at Camp Pendleton in Southern California, base officials said. The accident happened at 11 a.m. during a range maintenance operation at the San Diego County coastal base. The Marines were clearing the range of unexploded ordnance, and it was not a live firing range, a Marine official said. The identities of the dead were withheld pending notification of relatives.

Three students shot outside Pittsburgh school: Three Pittsburgh high school students heading to their vehicle after classes ended were shot Wednesday afternoon. Police, who are investigating whether the shooting was drug-related, brought six people in for questioning, school and police officials said. The three teenagers were shot outside Brashear High School. The wounds of the victims, all boys, did not appear to be life-threatening, police said.

Napolitano proposes tuition freeze: The new president of the University of California proposed freezing the cost of undergraduate tuition for another year to allow for an overhaul of how to pay for higher education in the state. Janet Napolitano, the former U.S. homeland security secretary, announced the proposal Wednesday, just six weeks after taking over the 10-campus University of California system, saying it would give administrators time to create a tuition system that would be less of a burden on families.

— From news services

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