RALEIGH, N.C.

Elections law battle

North Carolina’s Republican governor is vowing to fight a lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department challenging the state’s tough new elections law on the grounds it disproportionately excludes minority voters. Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he has hired a private lawyer to help defend the new law from what he suggested was a partisan attack by President Barack Obama’s Democratic administration. “I believe the federal government action is an overreach and without merit,” McCrory said at a brief media conference during which he took no questions. “I firmly believe we have done the right thing. I believe this is good law.” North Carolina’s new law cuts early voting by a week, ends same-day voter registration and includes a stringent photo ID requirement. The measure also eliminated a popular high school civics program that encouraged students to register to vote in advance of their 18th birthdays.

WASHINGTON

Cancer drug approved

A biotech drug from Roche has become the first medicine approved to treat breast cancer before surgery, offering an earlier approach against one of the deadliest forms of the disease. The Food and Drug Administration approved Perjeta for women with a form of early-stage breast cancer who face a high risk of having their cancer spread to other parts of the body.

Senators OK Kennedy

A Senate panel has approved the nomination of Caroline Kennedy to serve as U.S. ambassador to Japan. By voice vote on Monday, the Foreign Relations Committee endorsed President Barack Obama’s choice, the former first daughter who has promised to carry forward John F. Kennedy’s legacy with humility. If confirmed, Kennedy would replace John Roos.

SALIDA, Colo.

Five die on trail

Five hikers were killed by a rock slide on a trail in south-central Colorado on Monday, and another was pulled out with injuries and flown to a hospital, authorities said. The Chaffee (CHAY’-fee) County Sheriff’s Department said recovery would wait until today to make sure the area is safe. A 13-year-old girl who survived the slide was flown to a hospital in Denver for treatment.

Compiled from wire reports.