Senate races set in W.Va., Neb.

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WASHINGTON -- Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Democrat Natalie Tennant captured primary wins Tuesday, setting the stage for a historic U.S. Senate showdown in November that will give West Virginia its first female senator.

Meanwhile, the Tea Party scored a win in Nebraska as university president Ben Sasse captured the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in a bitter race that highlighted the fissures within the GOP.

Mr. Sasse, who had the backing of outside conservative groups, Sarah Palin and Sen. Ted Cruz, grabbed 45 percent of the vote to 25 percent for Sid Dinsdale, the president of Pinnacle Bank, and 23 percent for former state treasurer Shane Osborn. Trial lawyer Dave Domina defeated Larry Marvin in the Democratic primary.

Debate opens on tax bill

WASHINGTON -- A bill to renew more than 50 expired tax breaks for businesses and individuals cleared a key hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, giving hope to millions of taxpayers who would otherwise be hit with unwelcome tax increases next spring.

The Senate voted 96 to 3 to open debate on the bill, which has strong backing from the business community but would add about $85 billion to the budget deficit.

The tax breaks enjoy broad bipartisan support. But some Republican senators want the opportunity to change the package, and it's not clear whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will allow amendments.

Idaho ban struck down

SAN FRANCISCO -- Idaho's same-sex marriage ban was struck down by a federal judge in a ruling declaring the law unconstitutional.

"A state's broad authority to regulate matters of state concern does not include the power to violate an individual's protected constitutional rights," U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy W. Dale in Boise said in Tuesday's ruling.

Tuesday's ruling, just four days after an Arkansas judge declared that state's bar to same-sex marriage invalid, is the 12th consecutive victory for proponents of gay weddings since September in state and federal courts.

Coal ash cleanup to begin

DANVILLE, Va. -- With the clatter of heavy machinery, the cleanup of the ash-laden Dan River will begin in earnest this week.

The biggest ash deposit yet found in the Dan, following a Feb. 2 spill 25 miles upriver at Duke Energy's Dan River power plant, lies on the bottom just above Danville's water intake.

Its removal from the river will be far harder than its release into it from a broken metal pipe.

Truck hits TV station building

TOWSON, Md. -- A man claiming to be God rammed a truck through the front of a Baltimore-area television station Tuesday.

Police took a suspect into custody Tuesday afternoon, about five hours after the incident, officials said at a news conference. The suspect was not injured but was taken for medical treatment, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said.

"It's very clear the subject is suffering from emotional or mental health issues," Police Chief James Johnson said. The identity of the 29-year-old man was not immediately disclosed.

Harvard 'black mass' nixed

BOSTON -- Harvard University extension school students planning a "satanic black mass" canceled the event after an outcry by administration, students, faculty and religious leaders.

The Harvard Extension Cultural Studies Club had decided to move the event off campus last night after widespread objections, and no other location was willing to host it, according to an emailed statement from the group.

About 60,000 people, many of them Harvard students, faculty and alumni, signed online petitions protesting the black mass and urging Harvard to stop it, said Aurora Griffin, a senior at the college.

-- Compiled from news services



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