National briefs: Senate targets domestic abuse

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WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats, bolstered by Republican support, launched a new attempt Monday to broaden a law protecting women from domestic abuse by expanding its provisions to cover gays, lesbians and Native Americans.

The legislation to renew the Violence Against Women Act appeared on a smooth path toward passage in the Senate, possibly by the end of this week. Monday's vote to make the bill the next order of business was 85-8. Senate passage would send the bill to the House.

Kerry's first day at State

WASHINGTON -- John Kerry arrived at State Department headquarters Monday morning to begin his new role as secretary of state, telling employees that he wanted to answer the question: "Can a man actually run the State Department?"

The former Massachusetts senator, who was preceded in the post by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Condoleezza Rice, acknowledged that "I have big high heels to fill."

Slaying suspect is unruly

FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Iraq War veteran charged with killing a former Navy SEAL sniper and his friend on a Texas shooting range had to be shocked with a stun gun and restrained in his jail cell overnight after becoming aggressive, a sheriff said Monday.

Eddie Ray Routh, 25, is on suicide watch in the Erath County Jail in Stephenville, about 75 miles southwest of Fort Worth, where he's being held on $3 million bond, Sheriff Tommy Bryant said. Mr. Routh is charged in the shooting deaths of Chris Kyle, author of the best-selling book "American Sniper," and his friend Chad Littlefield at a shooting range Saturday in Glen Rose.

Mr. Routh, a member of the Marines Corps Reserve, appeared ready to assault jailers Sunday night when they entered his solitary confinement cell because he refused to return his food tray, Sheriff Bryant said. After warnings, jailers used a stun gun once and then put Mr. Routh in a chair that restrains his arms and legs, Sheriff Bryant said.

Tour bus death toll 7

YUCAIPA, Calif. -- The mountain highway where a tour bus crashed Sunday night, killing at least seven people and injuring dozens more, remained closed Monday as investigators combed the roadway for evidence of what caused the bus to careen out of control.

California Highway Patrol investigators had not yet determined the cause of the crash near Yucaipa, in the foothills about 80 miles east of Los Angeles. But the company that operated the tour bus, Scapadas Magicas, was repeatedly cited in recent years for vehicle maintenance violations, including multiple brake problems, according to federal Transportation Department records.

Also in the nation ...

Nearly 500 people, both dignitaries and ordinary citizens, packed the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit on Monday to honor civil rights legend Rosa Parks and witness the unveiling of a postage stamp in her honor. ... Supersonic Austrian parachutist Felix Baumgartner reached 843.6 mph when he jumped from a helium balloon's capsule 24 miles above Earth over New Mexico in October, according to the official numbers released Monday. ... President Barack Obama signed into law Monday a bill raising the government's borrowing limit, averting a default and delaying the next clash over the nation's debt until later this year.

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