National briefs: Gay marriage bill advances
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- The Rhode Island House of Representatives handily passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage Thursday, paving the way for a showdown in the Senate that could make the state the last in New England to allow gay marriage.
The measure, which would allow anyone to marry "any eligible person regardless of gender," passed 51-19 after about an hour and a half of debate. But the bill's future is uncertain.
The Senate president, Teresa Paiva-Weed, is opposed to same-sex marriage, although she has committed to allow the Senate Judiciary Committee to take up the bill, which will most likely happen in the spring.
Workplace bias targeted
WASHINGTON -- Gay rights advocates are renewing their push for President Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning federal contractors from discriminating against gay employees. Mr. Obama declared support for gay rights in his inaugural address.
Current federal law bans discrimination on the basis of sex, race and national origin, but it doesn't stop an employer from firing or refusing to hire a worker based on sexual orientation.
The White House said the Obama administration is not ready "at this time" to issue such an order.
LA teacher charged
LOS ANGELES --A Los Angeles Unified School District elementary school teacher was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of lewd acts and sexual abuse involving as many as 19 children.
Robert Pimental, 57, a teacher at George de la Torre Jr. Elementary in the Wilmington neighborhood of Los Angeles, was taken into custody by the Los Angeles Police Department's juvenile division sex crimes unit. Prosecutors filed 15 charges against Mr. Pimental on Wednesday involving a dozen victims. Detectives also said he victimized another seven children as well as one adult, though no charges have yet be filed in those cases.
PHILADELPHIA -- Jason Smith, a 36-year-old exterminator, was charged with murder Thursday in the killing of Melissa Ketunuti, who was found this week strangled, bound, and set on fire in the basement of her Philadelphia rowhouse.
Mr. Smith gave a statement spelling out his involvement. He has been charged with murder and abuse of a corpse, said Capt. James Clark of the Philadelphia police homicide unit.
Mr. Smith, who works for an extermination company, had an appointment at Ketunuti's home the day she was killed. He gave a statement that he attacked her and killed her in the home after an argument, police said.
Mr. Smith struck, then strangled Ms. Ketunuti with a rope. He then set the body ablaze.
Armstrong sued over book
SAN FRANCISCO -- Robert Stutzman, an aide to former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, said he was so taken by Lance Armstrong's first memoir of battling back from cancer to win the Tour de France multiple times that he immediately read it "cover to cover" and recommended it to several friends.
Now, Mr. Stutzman and several others who bought Mr. Armstrong's "It's Not About The Bike" and "Every Second Counts" have filed a lawsuit in Sacramento federal court. It alleges Mr. Armstrong duped them into believing the books were inspirational true accounts of the cyclist's accomplishments done without performance-enhancing drugs.
First Published January 25, 2013 12:32 am