OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) — A federal judge has blocked Nebraska's gay marriage ban, but the decision will not take effect until March 9.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon on Monday ordered the western state to not enforce its ban.
Seven same-sex couples filed a lawsuit last year challenging the state's voter-backed ban. Last week, Bataillon heard arguments for and against a motion for an injunction to block enforcement of the ban while the lawsuit is pending.
The Nebraska Attorney General's office has said it will appeal any decision blocking or overturning the ban.
Gay marriage is now legal in 37 of the 50 U.S. states, plus the Washington capital district, following a flurry of judicial rulings.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to decide by late June whether same-sex couples have a right to marry nationwide.News Topics: General news, Gays and lesbians, National courts, Same sex marriage, Marriage, National governments, Government and politics, Courts, Judiciary, Family issues, Social affairs, Gay rights, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues
People, Places and Companies: Nebraska, United States, North America
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani officials say hundreds of parents have been arrested in recent days because they refused to allow vaccinators to give their children the polio vaccine.
Feroz Shah, a spokesman for the Peshawar district administration, says 471 people have been arrested.
A senior police officer in Peshawar, Shakirullah Khan, says he does not have an exact figure on the number arrested but that it is so far in the "hundreds." Khan said the arrests were made under a law against endangering public safety.
Authorities have made scattered arrests in the past for polio refusals, but such widespread arrests are rare.
Pakistan is one of three countries where polio is endemic, and the country last year accounted for the vast majority of reported cases.News Topics: General news, Arrests, Polio and post-polio syndrome, Immunizations, Childhood immunizations, Law and order, Crime, Infectious diseases, Diseases and conditions, Health, Public health, Child and teen health
People, Places and Companies: Pakistan, Peshawar, South Asia, Asia
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
DUBLIN (AP) — The city of Kamaishi, hit hard by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is among 12 Japanese cities named Monday to host the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
The opener and final of the Sept. 6-Oct. 20 tournament will be played at the new 80,000-seat National Stadium in Tokyo, which will be the centerpiece of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The planned 16,000-seat stadium in Kamaishi will be the smallest of 12 venues, but the northern city is home to one of Japan's top amateur teams.
Sapporo, Osaka, Yokohama, Kobe and Fukuoka were also selected.
The 2019 tournament will be the first held in Asia and the first hosted by a nation outside the sport's traditional top tier.
Kumamoto, Toyota, Oita, Shizuoka and Kumagaya are the other host cities.News Topics: Sports, 2015 Rugby World Cup, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, International rugby union, Rugby union, Events, Men's rugby union, Men's rugby, Men's sports
People, Places and Companies: Japan, East Asia, Asia
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
LONDON (AP) — Prosecutors have charged 10 men with sexual offenses against girls as young as 13 in a case that has stirred racial tensions in northwestern England.
The Crown Prosecution Service said in a statement Monday that the offenses include rape and sexual activity with a child. They are alleged to have occurred between 2005 and 2013 and relate to seven girls. The victims were between 13 and 23 at the time of the abuse.
The case stirred tensions in Rochdale because many of the men were of Pakistani or Afghan origin, and their victims were white.
Two of the men, Afraz Ahmed and David Law, are in custody. All three are due to make court appearances this week.News Topics: General news, Child sexual exploitation, Child abuse, Child exploitation, Race and ethnicity, Racial and ethnic discrimination, Crimes against children, Crime, Social issues, Social affairs, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties
People, Places and Companies: United Kingdom, Western Europe, Europe
GENEVA (AP) — The large family car Volkswagen Passat has been voted car of the year by European automotive editors at the Geneva International Motor Show.
German Volkswagen's four-door sedan beat six other finalists including Citroen's C4 Cactus, Renault's Twingo and the BMW 2-Series Active Tourer.
The Passat has an updated collision avoidance system compared to its predecessor and other new technology, including emergency driver assistance and cross-wind stabilization.
Volkwagen last won the car of the year award in 2013 with its Golf compact car.
The Passat succeeds Peugeot's compact 308, which won last year.News Topics: Business, General news, Automobile shows, Industry conferences and trade shows, Automobiles, Lifestyle, Corporate news
People, Places and Companies: Geneva, Switzerland, Western Europe, Europe
NEW YORK (AP) — Records show that repair work on the Brooklyn Bridge is $100 million over budget and the completion date has been pushed back again.
The Daily News (http://nydn.us/1M3CCIX ) says engineers discovered over 3,000 new structural problems on the span, including cracks in steel beams and fraying cables. That new damage will increase the repair costs to more than $600 million.
The newspaper cited documents obtained via a Freedom of Information request.
The 132-year-old bridge had been set to fully reopen last April, but was delayed for a year. The city Department of Transportation now says the work won't be completed until sometime in 2016. The project was started in 2010.
Records show that many repairs have been completed. They include widening and refurbishing the span's crumbling approaches and ramps.
Information from: Daily News, http://www.nydailynews.comNews Topics: General news, Bridge construction, Heavy construction industry, Construction and engineering, Industrial products and services, Industries, Business, Transportation infrastructure, Transportation and shipping
People, Places and Companies: New York City, Brooklyn, New York, United States, North America
WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic officials say the longest serving woman in the history of Congress is ready to announce her retirement.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski is set to make a statement at a news conference in Baltimore later Monday. The 78-year-old Maryland Democrat is now in her fifth term.
Mikulski became the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress in 2012. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 1987. Mikulski is up for re-election next year, but has declined in the past to say whether she would run for what would be a sixth term. The deadline for filing is in January 2016.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss her plans.News Topics: General news, Legislature, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Barbara Mikulski, United States, North America
Next up in our “5 questions for…” interview series, I interviewed Riccardo Luna. He represents Italy as its Digital Champion for the European Union. Riccardo’s priorities are to close the digital divide, and to bring ultra-fast broadband to Italians. Riccardo also serves as editor for La Repubblica, President of Wikitalia, and co-curator of the European Maker Faire in Rome. You can read more about him here.
Alberto: What is a Digital Champion and what do you do? You recently launched “collective digital champions” initiative calling for local digital champions. How do you engage public opinion and advocate the true sentiment and need for Italian digital citizens? What do citizens and businesses need at both local and national level?
Riccardo: A Digital Champion is what one wishes to be. I mean: you can be an ambassador, an evangelist or an activist. Or you can try a mix of these three roles and find your own positioning. What is clear, is the mission: to make every European digital. It is not a mission, it is much more: it is the most critical challenge we have to face nowadays as a society. And it is huge: in Italy, we are working to connect more than 20 million people for the first time to the Internet. How to succeed in it? I would say we need three ingredients: passion, passion, passion. But it is not enough. This is not a mission for a lonely man or woman. That is why I am creating a local network of Digital Champions, leveraging the energy and the skills of thousands of activists.
Alberto: How would it be possible to revamp the Internet ecosystem in a collaborative way and encourage Investment?
Riccardo: I believe that digital skills are as important as the infrastructure. Not more, not less. Skills and infrastructure should go forward together. Aside from that, there is a huge legislative gridlock in EU: we strongly need a digital single market otherwise our digital companies would never survive in the competition with U.S. and Asian enterprises.
Alberto: In view of the European Commission’s new digital single market strategy, what suggestions, as a Digital Champion, would you give Commissioners Andrus Ansip and Günther Oettinger? How would you like them to foster and strengthen a real single digital market?
Riccardo: I am not the right person to give a technical advice to them. I can just emphasize how important this is for our future. The digital economy is the driving force of economic growth worldwide and in Europe we are just wasting opportunities. I know that there are many complicated issues to be solved in order to have a real digital single market, but we need passion, passion and vision of the future we want to build. This is something that European citizens will understand and will appreciate. We need strong political leadership to get rid of all the obstacles now.
Alberto: Investment, job creation, consumer protection, education, innovation. What is your pick for the most important priority?
Riccardo: In my role I should say education, but I think it would be unfair to pick one. Not to mention job creation, which is number one on the list due to the high unemployment rates we are facing. Consumer protection (e.g., data protection) is a critical problem that can severely damage the growth of digital economy if unsolved.
Alberto: Which measures would you recommend EU and national decision-makers adopt to unleash youth creativity? What surprised you most in the latest edition of the Maker Faire 2014?
Riccardo: Not a single measure. But I would strongly recommend it be easier and more transparent. I mean: the EU is investing really a lot of money in innovation not only through Horizon 2020. But it is neither easy nor friendly the way citizens can get involved. European Funds generally are something for specialists and this keeps out many innovators. Just to say, the latest European Maker Faire in Rome showed that innovation is not anymore for geeks or nerds: it is for everybody. And the EU cannot waste this huge potential.
"Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster)" (G. P. Putnam's Sons), by Dave Barry
"Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster)," Dave Barry's latest book of essays, might be thin on page count, but it's worth every penny when it comes to humor and insight.
Barry's weekly essays in newspapers around the country has been missed by many for some time now, so it's wonderful to see that he hasn't stopped writing about our foibles and his somewhat unique perspective on what makes us tick. And he's able to do it while invoking out loud laughter.
Parents will appreciate his concerns regarding his teenage daughter getting her learner's permit and the various issues he sees regarding the drivers in the state of Florida where he lives. (According to his observations, being legally blind does not matter when it comes to having a driver's license there.)
Barry's wife, Michelle Kaufman, is a sportswriter for the Miami Herald, and thanks to her, he's exposed to the joys and sorrows of soccer. He becomes jealous of star David Beckham's good looks after he learns she's going to interview him, and a trip to Brazil to watch the World Cup begins with fear about being robbed, thanks to the shady tour guides he studies in advance. Barry does an amazing job demonstrating why soccer is so beloved — yet not so much in the United States. He uses sarcasm to prove the game isn't quite as boring as a non-fan would believe, and worthwhile even if your child isn't playing in some youth league.
Barry's heart and soul come across on the page even as he throws out another groan-inducing joke. Fans will love this, and newcomers not familiar with his work will find enjoyment as well.
People, Places and Companies: Dave Barry, Michelle Kaufman
NEW YORK (AP) — U.S. stocks are opening slightly higher as investors focused on earnings and deal news.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 50 points, or 0.3 percent, to 18,185 in early trading Monday.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose two points to 2,106. The Nasdaq composite edged up 14 points, or 0.3 percent, to 4,978.
Endo International gained 3 percent after the company reported earnings and revenue that beat analysts' forecasts.
Freescale Semiconductor jumped 10 percent after agreeing to be acquired by Dutch chipmaker NXP Semiconductors.
European markets edged lower as investor optimism faded over a weekend interest rate cut by the Chinese central bank.
Oil prices fell slightly. U.S. crude slipped 42 cents to $49.34 a barrel in New York.News Topics: Business, General news, Stock prices, Stock indices and averages, Financial markets, Stock markets, Leading economic indicators, Economy
People, Places and Companies: United States, North America
WASHINGTON (AP) — Consumer spending fell for a second consecutive month in January, weakness that was expected to be temporary. Income grew, reflecting strong job gains during the month.
The Commerce Department says consumer spending fell 0.2 percent in January following a 0.3 percent drop in December. Economists had expected a dip, reflecting a big drop in gas prices during the month. That decline should prove to be a positive for the economy going forward, giving consumers more money to spend on other goods.
Income grew 0.3 percent in January as wages and salaries increased a strong $42.4 billion. Analysts expect that solid job gains and low unemployment will bolster consumer spending and lift economic growth this year to what they predict will be the fastest pace in a decade.News Topics: Business, General news, Consumer spending, Economy
"The Fifth Gospel" (Simon & Schuster), by Ian Caldwell
The curator of a groundbreaking exhibit at the Vatican dies mysteriously hours before its premiere. Within hours, his research partner's family becomes victim to a home invasion.
The second novel from Ian Caldwell, co-author of the best-selling "The Rule of Four," kicks off at 90 mph and doesn't slow down. Caldwell's skill as a writer is evident in his ability to weave detailed descriptions of Biblical scripture, Catholic history and Vatican geography into the story while keeping the action going.
He has a lot of material to work with, having spent a decade on his follow-up to "The Rule of Four." Co-written with Caldwell's childhood friend Dustin Thomason, the murder mystery set at Princeton spent nearly a year on The New York Times best-seller list.
Caldwell thanks Thomason in his acknowledgements, noting that even before their novel was published, the two spent a week in Greece doing research that helped inspire "The Fifth Gospel."
Caldwell's new novel is set in the waning years of John Paul II's papacy. The protagonist is Father Alex Andreou, a Greek Catholic priest who lives inside the Vatican with his 5-year-old son and who has been helping research the upcoming exhibit. The suspect in the curator's death is Andreou's brother, Simon, a Roman Catholic priest rising rapidly through the Vatican's diplomatic ranks.
Greek Catholics observe the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church while obeying the Roman Catholic pope. Unlike the Roman Catholic priests with whom they serve, Greek Catholic priests can marry and have families. A relatively small group, they are a remnant of the 1,000-year-old split between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches.
As Alex Andreou works to clear his brother of their friend's murder, he learns that information crucial to bringing the churches together — or keeping them apart — could lie in a fifth gospel the curator discovered in the bowels of the Vatican library. The question is: Who would kill to keep it secret?
Andreou must retrace Catholic history and unravel convoluted scripture to solve the mystery. But Caldwell's novel is more than a religious dissertation. He has created memorable characters with complex relationships, deep love and longstanding hurts. Both brothers carry the weight of having grown up in a Catholic minority inside the Vatican walls, with a Greek Catholic father who hoped but failed to bring the churches together. Both struggle with their own failings, as a father, brother or friend.
Ultimately, Caldwell's novel is about faith — in God and in family. It ends as every Christian story does, with an act of forgiveness.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Mystery fiction, Eastern Orthodox Church, Orthodox Christianity, Literary fiction, Fiction, Books and literature, Religion, Social affairs, Entertainment
People, Places and Companies: Pope John Paul II, Greece, Western Europe, Europe
PARIS (AP) — France scrumhalf Morgan Parra will miss the rest of the Six Nations after being ruled out for at least 10 weeks with a knee injury.
Parra, who plays for Clermont in the Top 14, won't undergo surgery after tearing the posterior ligament in his right knee during France's 20-13 loss to Wales on Saturday.
Clermont said Monday that Parra's knee will be immobilized for four weeks and that "his return to competition won't be possible before 10 weeks."
Parra was sidelined with a similar injury on his left knee in 2013. He will also miss Clermont's match against Northampton in the European Cup next month.
Parra damaged his knee in the first half, but kept playing until the 53rd minute when he was replaced by Sebastien Tillous Borde.News Topics: Sports, Rugby union, Rugby
People, Places and Companies: France, Western Europe, Europe
WASHINGTON (AP) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top U.S. officials are set to face off in dueling speeches on the high-stakes Iran nuclear negotiations.
Netanyahu will speak Monday morning at the annual policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. His address to the pro-Israel lobby will be bracketed by speeches from two senior U.S. officials: U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and National Security Adviser Susan Rice.
Netanyahu's visit to Washington has sparked criticism in both the U.S. and Israel. The centerpiece of his trip is an address to Congress Tuesday, which came at the invitation of congressional Republicans and was not coordinated with the White House.
The Israeli leader is deeply suspicious of President Barack Obama's efforts to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran.News Topics: General news, Government and politics
People, Places and Companies: Benjamin Netanyahu, Samantha Power, Susan Rice, Barack Obama, Israel, United States, Middle East, Iran, North America
A selection of AP stories that are especially good reads, shareable, consumer-friendly or likely to generate talk or buzz:
AP EXPLAINS-SUPREME COURT-HEALTH OVERHAUL - AP EXPLAINS: The US Supreme Court case that could derail Obama's prized health care overhaul. SENT:
NASDAQ NEARS PEAK - Nasdaq Now and Then: As index nears its dot-com record of 15 years ago, what's changed? SENT: 1,000 words, photos, interactive. With GLANCE and TIMELINE, both sent.
CLEVELAND POLICE SHOOT BOY - Cleveland boy shot by police officer died as result of his own actions, city tells court. SENT: 130 words. UPCOMING: Developing.
FLIGHT 370 ANNIVERSARY-MALAYSIA-TOURISM - Tourism on the rise in Malaysia in 2014 despite aura of tragedy from double plane disasters. SENT: 920 words, photos.
GENEVA AUTO SHOW-5 THINGS TO KNOW - Electric vehicles take a back seat at Geneva thanks to limited range, cheap gas. SENT: 760 words, photos.
CHINA-POLLUTION DOCUMENTARY - Chinese reporter's pollution documentary draws 175 million views in 2 days. SENT: 410 words.
CHINA-BRITAIN-ROYAL VISIT - Britain's Prince William takes on diplomatic role by meeting with Chinese president. SENT: 690 words, photo.
BUTTOCKS ENHANCEMENT - DEATH - Underground 'body sculptor' at murder trial says thousands chose her; testimony to continue. UPCOMING: Testimony scheduled for 1430 GMT.
DWARF PLANET MISSION - NASA's Dawn spacecraft prepares to get up close and personal with dwarf planet Ceres. SENT: 130 words, photo. UPCOMING: Will be updated from noon news conference.
BOOKS-VERONICA ROTH - 'Divergent' author Veronica Roth working on new 2-book series; 1st book scheduled for 2017. SENT: 370 words, photo.
UKR_SOCCER_TEAM - With fighting in eastern Ukraine, soccer team from Donetsk plays far from home. SENT: 1,150 words slugged UKRAINE-DISPLACED TEAM, photos, video.
MYANMAR STUDENT PROTEST - Myanmar police stop student protesters from marching to Yangon in opposition to academic law. SENT: 13 photos, 300 words.
COMING UP LATER TODAY:
WIRELESS SHOW - The Mobile World Congress will see keynote addresses by Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Google's senior vice president. UPCOMING: 13 words after Google keynote starts at 1215 GMT, 300 words after Zuckerman address at noon.News Topics: General news, International relations, Supreme courts, Government and politics, National courts, National governments, Courts, Judiciary
People, Places and Companies: Facebook Inc, Google Inc, Prince William, Mark Zuckerberg, Myanmar, Southeast Asia, Asia
KRALJEVO, Serbia (AP) — Marin Cilic has failed to recover from injury and will miss Croatia's Davis Cup tie against Serbia next weekend.
Croatia team captain Zeljko Krajan said Monday "we had expected a miracle, but Cilic is not ready for five-sets matches."
U.S. Open champion Cilic has not played this season because of a right shoulder injury.
In his absence, teenager Borna Coric leads a Croatia team that includes Mate Delic and Marin Draganja.
Serbia will be led by top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the match that starts Friday in the central Serbian town of Kraljevo. Viktor Troicki returns for Serbia after a one-year doping suspension
The last time Serbia played Croatia was in an away tie in 2010, when it won 4-1.News Topics: Sports, Davis Cup, Men's sports, Athlete injuries, Men's tennis, U.S. Open Tennis Championships, Tennis, Events, Athlete health
People, Places and Companies: Marin Cilic, Borna Coric, Mate Delic, Marin Draganja, Novak Djokovic, Viktor Troicki, Croatia, Serbia, Eastern Europe, Europe
TORONTO (AP) — Police in Toronto say they have identified the builders of a mysterious tunnel and say there was no criminal intent.
Police said in a statement Monday that two men told investigators they built the tunnel for "personal reasons." Police investigators verified their account and are satisfied there was neither criminal intent nor any threat to the public. Police say they received information about the builders last Friday. Police didn't' specify who built it or why.
Police had asked for the public's help in trying to determine who built the mysterious tunnel near York University.
The tunnel was 10 meters (10 yards) long and two meters (two yards) high.
The chamber was discovered Jan. 14 in a secluded wooded area by a conservation officer.News Topics: General news
People, Places and Companies: Canada, Toronto, North America, Ontario
In this photo by Gemunu Amarasinghe, a student protester lies on the floor of a monastery in Letpadan, Myanmar, after police stopped protesters from continuing their march toward Yangon, the country's largest city. The students have been rallying for a month in protest of an education law passed in September that puts all decisions about academic policy and curriculum in the hands of a body made up largely of government ministers. It bans students from forming unions and ignores calls for local languages to be used in instruction in ethnic states. Students say the law undermines the autonomy of universities, which were shuttered or rigidly controlled during five decades of military rule because the junta considered them hotbeds of discontent. The threat of an expanded protest is sensitive in part because students were at the forefront of pro-democracy protests in 1988 that were crushed by a bloody military crackdown.News Topics: General news, Protests and demonstrations, Political and civil unrest
People, Places and Companies: Myanmar, Yangon, Southeast Asia, Asia
"Lies That Blind" (Minotaur Books), by Maggie Barbieri
Family relationships can be complicated, tangled up with love, loyalty and support in the best situations and, in the worst cases, hostility, resentment and revenge. While secrets can be part of a family's emotional fabric, how people react to these revelations says volumes about a person.
Maggie Barbieri takes a close look at family ties — good, bad and toxic — in "Lies That Bind," her second novel featuring Maeve Conlon. "Lies That Bind" is a strong story about a woman trying to uncover long-buried secrets about her family while maintaining a shroud around her own life. But the novel falls short of being as emotionally involving as "Once Upon a Lie," which introduced Maeve.
During a wake for her father, Maeve is stunned when a former neighbor, a nasty gossip, tells her that she has an older sister. Maeve was close to her father, and to think that he would keep something so important from her is unfathomable.
Maeve learns that she has a sister, Evelyn, who was born with development challenges and placed in an institution that was closed because of reports of abuse. She doesn't know if Evelyn is alive, and the only link she has is a support group for relatives of patients who were never found after the facility closed.
Meanwhile, Maeve is attacked in the bakery she owns shortly after finding evidence that someone has been breaking in at night.
The novel delivers a perceptive look at families, and it's easy to think of Maeve only in terms of that "nice lady," as a customer at her bakery calls her. But Maeve burns with a rage that erupts when she or someone she loves is threatened.
"Lies That Bind" is a good story, but it lacks the impact that infused Barbieri's first novel, and it doesn't do justice to the complicated Maeve.News Topics: Arts and entertainment, Books and literature, Flour and baked goods manufacturing, Entertainment, Food manufacturing, Food, beverage and tobacco products manufacturing, Consumer product manufacturing, Consumer products and services, Industries, Business
BANKSO, Bulgaria (AP) — Lindsey Vonn has criticized the International Ski Federation for allowing skiers to race in foggy conditions in Bulgaria.
The 30-year-old American, who missed nearly two seasons of competition after injuring her right knee in Austria in 2013, said FIS restarted the super-G leg of Sunday's combined race too soon.
Vonn says "I don't think the conditions were safe enough to be racing."
Vonn made skiing history on the World Cup circuit in January with a record 63rd win. On Monday, she finished third in the super-G, behind overall title chasers Anna Fenninger and Tina Maze.News Topics: Sports, Alpine skiing, Women's alpine skiing, Skiing, Women's skiing, Women's sports
People, Places and Companies: Lindsey Vonn, Bulgaria, Eastern Europe, Europe