Vote puts state closer to gay marriage

A pivotal vote Thursday in the Minnesota House positioned that state to become the 12th in the country to allow gay marriages and the first in the Midwest to pass such a law out of its legislature.

The 75 to 59 vote was a critical step for the measure, which would allow same-sex weddings beginning this summer. It’s a startling shift in the state, where just six months earlier voters turned back an effort to ban them in the Minnesota Constitution. The state Senate plans to consider the bill Monday, and leaders expect it to pass there, too. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) has pledged to sign it into law.

Four of the House’s 61 Republicans voted for the bill, while two of its 73 Democrats voted against it.

— Associated Press

national security
Tunisian man is charged in terror plot

A Tunisian man accused of radicalizing a Canadian resident charged in a plot to derail a train has been charged with trying to stay in the United States illegally to build a terrorism cell for international acts of terrorism, such as poisoning a water system with bacteria, authorities said Thursday.

Law enforcement authorities had watched Ahmed Abassi since he arrived in the United States from Canada in mid-March and arrested him April 22 at John F. Kennedy International Airport, authorities said. Abassi met regularly with an undercover FBI agent and met with another Tunisian citizen who was later arrested in Canada in the plot to derail the train, they said.

Prosecutors, in a letter submitted to a U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan, said Abassi had radicalized Chiheb Esseghaier, who is charged in Toronto with conspiring with al-Qaeda members in Iran to derail a train that runs between New York City and Montreal.

— Associated Press

3 officers relieved of duty after deadly accident

Three U.S. Marine Corps officers have been relieved of command after an explosion during a training exercise at a Nevada munitions depot in March killed seven fellow Marines, a military spokesman said Thursday.

The officers will be reassigned to new duties and do not face any allegations of criminal wrongdoing, said 1st Lt. Oliver David, a public affairs officer at Camp Lejeune, N.C., where the men are based.

The blast at the Hawthorne Army Depot in western Nevada was among the deadliest military training accidents on U.S. soil in recent years.

The three officers removed from their duties are Lt. Col. Andrew McNulty, Capt. Kelby Breivogel and Chief Warrant Officer 3 Douglas Derring.

— Reuters

Deal is reached in university probe

Federal officials reached agreements with the University of Montana at Missoula after a year-long investigation into mishandled sexual assault reports on campus that require the university to revise policies and adequately respond to allegations, federal officials said Thursday.

Investigators heard from women who were assaulted then unfairly belittled, disbelieved or blamed for speaking up about what was done to them, said Justice Department Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roy Austin Jr.

The investigation began after 11 assaults involving university students were reported in an 18-month period.

— Associated Press

Diesel truck accident shuts I-81: A section of Interstate 81 near Harrisburg, Pa., was expected to remain closed in both directions for the next several days after a tanker truck fully loaded with diesel fuel overturned Thursday morning and exploded into flames, sending black smoke billowing into the sky. Officials said the crash occurred on an on-ramp to Route 22-322. Police said the driver of the truck was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.

Wash. state courts computers hacked: The Washington state Administrative Office of the Courts was hacked in February, and up to 160,000 Social Security numbers and 1 million driver license numbers might have been accessed during the data breach of its public Web site, officials said Thursday.

Arias sentencing postponed: The next phase of the Jodi Arias murder trial was postponed Thursday. The trial will resume Wednesday. The Phoenix jury was scheduled to return to the courtroom to decide whether Arias should be eligible for the death penalty for killing her one-time boyfriend, Travis Alexander, on June 4, 2008. The jury convicted Arias on Wednesday of first-degree murder.