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National news briefs — compiled March 14

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WASHINGTON

Surgeon general nomination stalls

The White House is backing off its push for quick confirmation of President Barack Obama’s pick to be surgeon general in the face of opposition from the National Rifle Association and concerns among Democrats up for re-election who don’t want to take another tough vote on a controversial nominee. Dr. Vivek Hallegere Murthy, a Harvard Medical School physician and Obama political organizer, is the latest nominee to be targeted for defeat by an outside group in the midst of the midterm election campaign. Murthy’s support of gun control drew the ire of the NRA, which was a driving force 11 months ago in the defeat of Obama-endorsed stronger background checks for firearms purchases.

NASHVILLE, TENN.

Judge orders couples’ recognition

A federal judge ordered the state of Tennessee on Friday to recognize the marriages of three same-sex couples while their lawsuit against the state works its way through the court system. U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger issued the preliminary injunction barring the state from enforcing laws prohibiting recognition of their marriages.

LITTLE ROCK, ARk.

12-week abortion ban struck down

A federal judge Friday struck down Arkansas’ attempt to ban most abortions beginning 12 weeks into a woman’s pregnancy, saying viability, not a heartbeat, remains the key factor in determining whether abortions should be allowed. U.S. District Judge Susan Webber Wright last year had stopped enforcement of the law while she reviewed it, and on Friday she declared that it was unconstitutional.

MISSION, TEXAS

Border agent kidnaps 3, kills self

A Honduran woman, her daughter and another girl who said they were kidnapped and assaulted by a border patrol agent were in the process of surrendering to the agent when their ordeal began, another Border Patrol agent and a federal law enforcement official said Friday. Agent Esteban Manzanares, who officials say committed suicide early Thursday morning, is accused of driving the three away from the river after they surrendered and assaulting them. The other agent said Manzanares cut the wrists of the adult woman, assaulted one teenager in the group, and then fled the area with a second teenage girl. The Honduran embassy in Washington said the three are a mother, her underage daughter and another girl not related to them. The FBI has said the three were in the United States illegally.

Compiled from wire reports.


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