National briefs: Gay marriage extends to Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Rhode Island on Thursday became the nation's 10th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed, as a 16-year effort to extend marriage rights in this heavily Catholic state ended with the triumphant cheers of hundreds of gays, lesbians, their families and friends.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee signed the bill into law on the Statehouse steps Thursday evening following a final 56-15 vote in the House. The first weddings will take place Aug. 1, when the law takes effect.

"It's a day we knew would come, but it seemed so far away for so many years," said Rep. Frank Ferri, D-Warwick, who is gay and was elected to the House after years as a gay marriage advocate.

Terror suspect released

CHICAGO -- A federal judge agreed Thursday to release on home confinement an Illinois teenager charged with trying to join an al-Qaida-linked militant group in war-torn Syria.

Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, of Aurora was arrested in an FBI sting last month at O'Hare International Airport last month as he allegedly prepared for the first leg of a trip to join the al-Qaida-affiliated group fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

No immunity for Bulger

BOSTON -- The new judge presiding over the James "Whitey" Bulger case has barred the reputed Boston mobster from arguing that he was granted immunity.

In a decision filed Thursday, Judge Denise Casper upheld a decision by the case's previous judge, who was removed because of the possible appearance of a conflict of interest. The 83-year-old Mr. Bulger is scheduled to go on trial next month for his connection to 19 slayings.

Airport shooter killed

HOUSTON -- A man who had fired a gun inside a ticketing area at Houston's largest airport was killed after being confronted by a law enforcement official during an incident that sent people in the terminal scrambling and screaming, police said Thursday.

It's unclear if the man fatally shot himself or was killed by a Homeland Security agent who had confronted him, said Houston police spokesman Kese Smith. The man's name was not released by police, but they said he was about 30-years-old.

Twitter-threat sentences

STEUBENVILLE, Ohio -- Two 16-year-old girls were sentenced Thursday to probation after guilty pleas in the case of threatening tweets sent after a guilty verdict in a high-profile rape case involving two Steubenville High School football players.

One girl had been charged with aggravated menacing for a tweet that threatened homicide, according to the attorney general's office. The girl is a cousin of Ma'Lik Richmond, one of the football players found guilty March 17. A Twitter message from the second girl threatened the 16-year-old West Virginia rape victim with bodily harm, leading to a menacing charge.

Also in the nation ...

President Barack Obama on Thursday chose two old friends with corporate executive experience for top posts on his economic team, naming longtime fundraiser Penny Pritzker as Commerce secretary and adviser Michael Froman as U.S. Trade Representative. ... Schoolchildren in Minnesota and Wisconsin got a rare May snow day Thursday as a storm dropped up to 16 inches of sticky snow across a beleaguered region that was just starting to enjoy spring.

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