National briefs: Fort Hood case benefits pushed

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WASHINGTON -- Convicted Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan's guilty verdict and death sentence last week mean a new chapter for his victims, say Texas lawmakers, who will announce Monday a new push for increased benefits and recognition through the Purple Heart medal and its civilian equivalent.

Three Texas Republican lawmakers -- Sen. John Cornyn and Reps. John Carter and Roger Williams -- have been battling the military's classification of the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings that killed 13 and wounded more than 30 as "workplace violence."

On Monday, they will be in Killeen, Texas, site of the trial, to present their legislation, the Honoring the Fort Hood Heroes Act, that would give the military and civilian victims of the attack the same treatment as the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack victims. If enacted by Congress, they would become eligible for the military's Purple Heart Award or the Department of Defense's civilian equivalent.

Cheneys battle over gays

WASHINGTON -- Mary Cheney, the younger sister of Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Senate candidate, sharply criticized her sister's stance on same-sex marriage and urged her own Facebook friends to share the message.

Posting on Facebook on Friday evening, Mary Cheney, who is gay and married her longtime partner last year, wrote: "For the record, I love my sister, but she is dead wrong on the issue of marriage."

Their father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, supports same-sex marriage.

Earlier Friday, Liz Cheney revealed her position on same-sex marriage, a topic she has kept relatively quiet about since declaring her candidacy in July against incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.

"I am not pro-gay marriage," Liz Cheney said in a statement responding to an apparent push poll against her in Wyoming. "I believe the issue of marriage must be decided by the states, and by the people in the states, not by judges and not even by legislators, but by the people themselves."

Chinese poultry OK'd

WASHINGTON -- The Agriculture Department on Friday approved four Chinese poultry processors to begin shipping a limited amount of meat to the United States, a move that is likely to add to the debate over food imports.

Initially, the companies will be allowed to export only cooked poultry products from birds raised in the United States and Canada. But critics predicted that the government would eventually expand the rules, so that chickens and turkeys bred in China could end up in the U.S. market.

Earthquake in Aleutians

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Dozens of noticeable aftershocks above magnitude 4.0 are expected in the remote Aleutian Island region off Alaska in the days and weeks following a major 7.0 earthquake, Michael West, the Alaska state seismologist, said Saturday.

A dozen measurable aftershocks have already hit the region since Friday's quake.

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