National briefs: Female abuse bill languishes

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WASHINGTON -- Senators tussled Thursday over whether Indian authorities should be able to prosecute non-Indians in domestic abuse cases, an issue that has delayed passage of legislation to renew the federal government's main law in the fight against domestic violence.

A final vote on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act is now scheduled for Monday.

The 1994 act expired in 2011, but reauthorization was blocked last year by differences between the Democratic-led Senate, which is seeking to extend new protections for gays, lesbians, immigrants and Native American women, and the Republicans in the House, who said the Senate bill goes too far.

Obama delivers pep talk

LEESBURG, Va. -- Assertive even as he preached humility, President Barack Obama vowed to confront Republicans on the deficit and urged Democrats on Thursday to stick with him on guns and immigration.

He scorned a GOP plan to avoid imminent across-the-board spending cuts, declaring flatly "we're on the right side of this argument."

In an address meant to motivate House Democrats during their annual retreat, Mr. Obama cast his overarching agenda as one driven by the fundamental goal of giving every American a fair shot at success. He conceded that Democratic lawmakers, the minority in the House of Representatives, would encounter obstacles and irritations, but called on them to stick to their principles in their confrontations with Republicans.

The speech came just days before the State of the Union address Tuesday.

Kidnapper's body removed

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- A man who held a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground bunker for nearly a week before dying in a shootout Monday with the FBI received multiple gunshot wounds, a county coroner said Thursday.

Dale County Coroner Woodrow Hilboldt said he was allowed into the bunker in the southeastern Alabama community of Midland City on Wednesday evening. The coroner declined to say how many times Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, had been shot or where the wounds were on his body. He said the body was taken to a state forensics laboratory in Montgomery for an autopsy.

The boy, whom authorities have identified only by his first name, Ethan, has been reunited with his family. He turned 6 Wednesday.

Hispanics lean Democratic

WASHINGTON -- U.S.-born children of Hispanic immigrants are more likely than their parents to identify themselves as Democrats as they integrate into American life, maintaining strong ties to their cultural heritage while casting themselves as liberal on social issues.

A wide-ranging study released Thursday by the Pew Research Center lays bare some of the difficulties for the Republican Party following elections last November, when President Barack Obama won with support from 80 percent of nonwhite and ethnic voters.

Close celestial encounter

WASHINGTON -- An asteroid half the size of a football field will dart between Earth and orbiting satellites next week, sparing the human race and putting on a show for sky gazers in Eastern Europe, Asia and Australia, NASA said.

The 150-foot diameter asteroid, named 2012 DA14, will pass 17,000 miles above Earth next Friday -- lower than the orbits of some satellites -- in the closest known approach of an object of its size. It will travel on a north-to-south trajectory at 17,400 miles an hour, NASA scientists said Thursday.

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