National briefs: GOP changes abortion bill

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WASHINGTON -- House Republicans have modified a tough anti-abortion bill to include exceptions for rape and incest after the GOP sponsor of the legislation raised a firestorm by declaring that very few rapes result in pregnancies.

The legislation, which challenges the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on a woman's right to abortion, would ban almost all abortions after a fetus reaches the age of 20 weeks. It is scheduled to come up for a vote in the full House next week.

On Wednesday, when the House Judiciary Committee considered the legislation, sponsor Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said that cases of "rape resulting in pregnancy are very low." He was speaking on a proposed Democratic amendment, defeated by Republicans, that would have made exceptions to the ban in cases involving rape and incest.

Universal military uniforms

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House approved a measure Friday that would require all branches of the U.S. military to share the same camouflage uniforms -- instead of the 10 different camouflage patterns in use today.

The measure, authored by freshman Rep. William Enyart, D-Ill., was passed as part of the broader National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the Pentagon's budget. The measure passed by a vote of 315 to 108.

That idea needs the approval of the Senate, which is crafting its own version of the defense authorization bill. On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved a measure that would also require the Pentagon to choose just one camouflage uniform, a committee spokeswoman said.

Newtown honors the dead

NEWTOWN, Conn. -- Newtown held a moment of silence Friday for the victims of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School at a remembrance event that doubled as a call to action on gun control, with the reading of names of thousands of victims of gun violence.

Two sisters of slain teacher Victoria Soto asked the crowd gathered at Edmond Town Hall for a 26-second moment of silence, honoring the 20 children and six adults gunned down at the school on Dec. 14.

The event then transitioned to the reading of the names of more than 6,000 people killed by gun violence since the tragedy in Newtown. The reading of names is expected to take 12 hours.

Detroit facing debt default

ROMULUS, Mich. -- A team led by a state-appointed emergency manager said Friday that Detroit is defaulting on about $2.5 billion in unsecured debt and is asking creditors to take about 10 cents on the dollar of what the city owes them.

Kevyn Orr spent two hours with about 180 bond insurers, pension trustees, union representatives and other creditors in a move to avoid what bankruptcy experts have said would be the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Underfunded pension claims likely would get less than the 10 cents on the dollar. An assessment of the plan's progress will come in the next 30 days or so.

ExxonMobil sued over spill

WASHINGTON -- The Justice Department and the state of Arkansas filed suit against the oil giant ExxonMobil over a March 29 pipeline rupture that spilled 210,000 gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and waterways in the small town of Mayflower.

The spill prompted evacuations, killed wildlife, polluted wetlands and a lake, and stirred health complaints from people living near the rupture site, north of Little Rock.

In the suit filed in federal district court, the Justice Department seeks civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act. The Arkansas attorney general is also pursuing civil penalties for violations of the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act and the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. The state also seeks to have ExxonMobil pay for all cleanup and removal costs under the federal Oil Pollution Act.

Also in the nation ...

Incident Commander Rich Harvey said the Black Forest Fire -- the most destructive in Colorado history -- is now 30 percent contained. ... Days after the Army major charged in the Fort Hood shooting rampage in 2009 argued that he had carried out the attack to protect Taliban leaders, a military judge effectively tossed out his defense, ruling Friday that the claim had no legal merit.

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