National briefs: Texas considers abortion limits

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AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Senate convened Friday afternoon to debate and ultimately vote on some of the nation's toughest abortion restrictions, its actions being watched by fervent demonstrators on either side of the issue.

The Senate's leader, Republican Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, is determined not to let anything -- or anyone -- derail a vote again. Senators began debate on House Bill 2 on Friday afternoon, with a vote to follow in the evening or possibly early this morning.

The bill could shut all but five abortion clinics in Texas and would be a win long-eyed by conservatives who make abortion a key campaign issue, but the raucous debate has also given Texas Democrats newfound momentum. The Republican majority is expected to ultimately pass the bill.

Seizing reporters' records

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who has been criticized for the Justice Department's aggressive tactics in secretly obtaining phone logs and emails of reporters as part of leak investigations, on Friday announced new guidelines that would significantly narrow the circumstances under which journalists' records could be obtained.

In a six-page report, Mr. Holder outlined changes to the Justice Department's investigative guidelines that would prevent the FBI from portraying a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials.

The revisions would also make it harder -- though not impossible -- for prosecutors to obtain a journalist's calling records from telephone companies without giving news organizations advance notice. Notifying news organizations in advance would give them a chance to contest the request in court.

Gay marriage opponents

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Proposition 8 backers on Friday tried one last legal maneuver to revive California's gay marriage ban, asking the state Supreme Court to halt the same-sex nuptials taking place across the state since the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to doom the law in a ruling last month.

Alliance Defending Freedom, an Arizona-based group behind Proposition 8, filed a petition with the state's high court, urging the justices to order county clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and abide by the 2008 voter-approved ban.

NAACP gathers in Florida

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The NAACP brings its national convention to Orlando for the first time in its 104-year history this week while the nation focuses on the issue of racial profiling in the George Zimmerman trial and the recent U.S. Supreme Court's decision striking down portions of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The convention starts today and continues through Wednesday and is expected to draw about 4,000 delegates.

Steinway sells NYC site

NEW YORK -- First, Steinway & Sons closed on the sale of its Beaux-Arts Manhattan building on West 57th Street. Three days later, it announced that it was planning to sell the whole company to a private-equity firm that owns more than 15 other medium-size manufacturers, making everything from windshield wipers to sewing machines to coffins.

For pianists who obsess about all things Steinway, the developments had the force of a one-two punch.

The $438 million deal to sell the company was announced last week. The offer, which came from the private equity firm Kohlberg & Co., would take Steinway private.

-- Compiled from news services



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