World briefs: North Dakota moves to ban abortions

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BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota lawmakers on Friday approved a state referendum for this fall on a constitutional amendment that, if passed, would effectively block abortion by holding that life begins at conception.

In a 57-35 vote, the House followed the Senate's action and approved the referendum, which will go before the voters on the November ballot. Groups backing abortion rights said they will fight the referendum and, if needed, in the courts as well.

The action is the latest in a series of moves by North Dakota lawmakers to limit and, in some cases, even eliminate abortions. Lawmakers have passed bills that would ban abortions six weeks after conception or after a fetal heartbeat is detected. A second measure would ban abortions because of genetic defects. Both bills now head to the governor, who has yet to say what he will do.

If Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signs those bills, it would make North Dakota the state with the strictest anti-abortion laws in the nation. It will also set the stage for more lawsuits, since the state measures conflict with the federal standard. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court in Roe vs. Wade and other cases held that there was a constitutional right for a woman to have an abortion before the fetus reached viability, usually at 22 to 24 weeks.

FCC chairman to resign

WASHINGTON -- Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said Friday he's resigning in the coming weeks, setting up a second vacancy on the five-member U.S. agency that regulates telephone, cable and broadcast companies.

Mr. Genachowski, a Democrat, has held the post since 2009.

Mr. Genachowski, 50, can depart without leaving behind a 2-2 partisan tie because Republican Robert McDowell on March 20 announced that he'll resign in coming weeks. The changes will leave Mignon Clyburn and Jessica Rosenworcel as the FCC's Democrats, and Ajit Pai as its sole Republican.

3 Marines die in shooting

QUANTICO, Va. -- Three staff members of the Marines' officer training school are dead after a gunman killed himself and two colleagues, a man and a woman, officials said Friday.

The shootings took place inside a barracks, Taylor Hall, on the sprawling Marine Corps base near Washington, D.C., said the base commander, Col. David W. Maxwell.

The names of the dead were not immediately released, nor did Col. Maxwell suggest a motive, pending what he said would be "a lengthy investigation."

Other officials said the episode was not thought to be a mass shooting or terrorist attack.

An official identified the gunman as a sergeant, the male victim as a corporal and the female victim as a lance corporal. The victims, subordinate in rank to the gunman, were likely in support roles at the school and not involved in training officer candidates, the official said.

Accused of posing as a pilot

PHILADELPHIA -- A 60-year-old man from France was arrested Wednesday evening after trying to impersonate a pilot and taking a seat in the cockpit of a plane that was about to depart from Philadelphia International Airport, police said.

Whether the man, identified as Philippe Jeannard, was engaged in a sinister plot or a mental flight of fancy was unclear, police said.

Mr. Jeannard had a ticket for a US Airways flight to West Palm Beach, Fla. He wore a white Air France shirt and a black leather jacket with epaulets on the shoulders, officials said.

Chef jailed in wife's murder

LOS ANGELES -- David Viens, the chef who told authorities that he accidentally killed his wife and cooked her body to dispose of it, was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison on Friday.

Mr. Viens was convicted last year of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Dawn.

He failed to persuade Superior Court Judge Rand S. Rubin to give him a new trial.

-- Compiled from news services



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