Casino worker suspected in killing
LAS VEGAS – Police suspect that a casino worker killed a 10-year-girl before going to a Las Vegas resort and allegedly slashing the face of a co-worker with razor blades.
The search for Jade Morris ended Friday afternoon when officials confirmed that it was her body that was found a day earlier in an undeveloped housing tract.
The Clark County coroner's office said she died of multiple stab wounds.
Jade was last seen Dec. 21 with family friend Brenda Stokes Wilson, who picked her up to go Christmas shopping.
Wilson, 50, returned the car she had borrowed for the outing to a friend two hours later. Jade never came back. Investigators later found blood on the driver's door and steering wheel of the 2007 Saab sedan.
Later that night, Wilson was wrestled to the ground with razors in each hand after allegedly slashing the face of a female co-worker at the Bellagio casino.
Police said she offered no help in the search for the missing girl. Murder and kidnapping charges could get her life in prison without parole or the death penalty.
Maine same-sex couples get married
PORTLAND, Maine – Arriving in a limo, Donna Galluzzo and Lisa Gorney had all the trappings of a traditional wedding: rings, flowers, wedding vows, an entourage and a friend to officiate.
With tears in their eyes, they were among the first gay couples to exchange wedding vows early this morning after Maine's same-sex marriage law went into effect at midnight.
“We're paving the way for people to go after us. I think it's just amazing. It's freeing. It's what's right,” an emotionally drained Gorney said after their ceremony in front of City Hall.
After waiting years and seeing marriage rights nearly awarded and then retracted, gay couples in Maine's largest city didn't have to wait a moment longer than necessary to wed, with licenses issued at the stroke of midnight as the law went into effect.
Dockworkers strike averted for now
NEW YORK – Dockworkers along the East Coast and the Gulf of Mexico agreed Friday to extend their contract for more than a month, averting a weekend strike that could have crippled major ports from Boston to Houston and bottled up billions of dollars' worth of cargo.
Talks aimed at reaching a new contract covering the 14,500 longshoremen will continue during the extension, which runs through Feb. 6.
The dockworkers' union and an alliance of port operators and shipping lines agreed to the extension after resolving one of the stickier points in their negotiations, involving royalty payments to longshoremen for each container they unload. Details were not disclosed.
A walkout would have crippled the loading and unloading of a vast number of products, including electronics and clothing, and made it more difficult for U.S. manufacturers to get parts and raw materials at a time when the economy is in shaky condition. The ports involved handle about 40 percent of all U.S. container cargo.
India rape suspects to face murder charges
NEW DELHI – Indian police charged six men with murder today, hours after a woman who was gang-raped and beaten on a bus in New Delhi nearly two weeks ago died in a Singapore hospital.
New Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said the six face the death penalty if convicted, in a case that has triggered protests across India for greater protection for women from sexual violence and raised questions about lax attitudes by police toward sexual crimes.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was aware of the emotions the attack has stirred, adding it was up to all Indians to ensure that the young woman's death will not have been in vain.
The victim “passed away peacefully” early today at Mount Elizabeth hospital in Singapore with her family and officials of the Indian Embassy by her side, Dr. Kevin Loh, the chief executive of the hospital, said in a statement.
After 10 days at a hospital in New Delhi, the Indian capital, the woman was brought Thursday to Mount Elizabeth, which specializes in multi-organ transplants. Loh said the woman had been in extremely critical condition since Thursday, and by late Friday her condition had taken a turn for the worse, with her vital signs deteriorating.
The woman and a male friend, who have not been identified, were on a bus in New Delhi after watching a film on the evening of Dec. 16 when they were attacked by six men who raped her. The men beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into the woman's body, resulting in severe organ damage. Both were then stripped and thrown off the bus, according to police.
Designer McCartney, ‘God particle’ scientist get royal honors
LONDON – Stella McCartney, who designed the uniforms worn by Britain's record-smashing Olympic team, and Scottish physicist Peter Higgs, who gave his name to the so-called “God particle,” are among the hundreds being honored by Queen Elizabeth II this New Year.
The list is particularly heavy with Britain's Olympic heroes, but it also includes “Star Wars” actor Ewan McGregor, eccentric English singer Kate Bush, Roald Dahl illustrator Quentin Blake and Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, the royal aide who helped organize the watched-around-the-world wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.
McCartney was honored with the title of Officer of the Order of the British Empire, or OBE, in part for her work creating the skintight, red-white-and-blue uniforms worn by British athletes as they grabbed 65 medals during the 2012 games hosted by London.
Higgs' achievements, which made him a Companion of Honor, touch on the nature and the origins of the universe. The 83-year-old researcher said it was while walking through the Scottish mountains that he hit upon the concept of what would later become known as the Higgs boson, an elusive subatomic particle that gives objects mass and combines with gravity to give them weight.
Philippine leader OK’s contraceptives law
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine president has signed a law that will promote contraception, sexual education and family planning programs vigorously opposed by the country's Roman Catholic Church.
President Benigno Aquino III signed the law Dec. 21 and his administration announced it only today because of the “sensitivity” of the issue, said deputy presidential spokeswoman Abigail Valte.
Valte said the passage of the law “closes a highly divisive chapter of our history” and “opens the possibility of cooperation and reconciliation” among those who oppose and support the “Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012.”
Under the law, the government will hire more village health workers who will distribute contraceptives, especially to the poor, and provide instructions on natural family planning methods that the Church approves.
The government will also train teachers who will provide age- and development-appropriate reproductive health education to adolescents — youth age 10 to 19 years old. This will include information on protection against discrimination and sexual abuse and violence against women and children, teen pregnancy, and women's and children's rights.
UN envoy says Syrian collapse threatens the entire region
MOSCOW – The United Nations envoy for Syria warned today that the country's civil war could plunge the entire region in chaos by sending an unbearable stream of refugees into neighboring countries, but his talks in Moscow brought no sign of progress toward settling the crisis.
Lakhdar Brahimi and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov both said after their meeting that the 21-month Syrian crisis can only be settled through talks, while admitting that the parties to the conflict have shown no desire for compromise.
Neither has hinted at a solution that would persuade the government and the opposition to agree to a ceasefire and sit down for talks on political transition.
Brahimi, who arrived in Moscow on one-day trip after his talks in Damascus with Syrian President Bashar Assad earlier this week, voiced concern about the escalation of the conflict, which he said is becoming “more and more sectarian.”