HONOLULU — Hawaii lawmakers declined to vote Friday on a bill that would have allowed same-sex civil unions, effectively killing the measure. State House leaders said a narrow majority of representatives would have voted for civil unions, but they decided to indefinitely postpone a decision on whether to grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits the state provides to married couples. Civil union supporters in the crowded House gallery on Friday shouted, “Shame on you!” while opponents cheered.
Utah: Shuttle mission layoffs
The company that builds booster rockets for the space shuttle is laying off an additional 420 workers. ATK Space Systems cited the phase-out of the space shuttle and Minuteman III ballistic missile program. That’s the same reason it gave for laying off 550 of its 4,450 Utah workers in October. A spokesman said Thursday’s layoffs hit factory workers, engineers and administrative workers at a plant in Clearfield that refurbishes spent booster rockets, a manufacturing and test facility in Promontory, and a factory in Magna that made Minuteman missiles.
Indiana: Lawmaker retires
Republican Rep. Steve Buyer announced Friday that he will not seek re-election this fall and will leave Congress after 18 years because his wife is ill. Buyer choked back tears as he stood next to his wife, Joni, on Friday, saying she had been diagnosed with an incurable autoimmune disease. “As part of her prognosis she has been advised to de-stress her life,” he said. “Now is the time for me to step back. It’s been an honor.” Buyer, 51, is the top Republican on the House Veterans Affairs Committee.
California: Megachurch woes
The megachurch founded by televangelist Robert H. Schuller Sr. is selling property, laying off workers and pulling its signature TV program “Hour of Power” from some markets to offset a nearly $8 million drop in revenue. The Crystal Cathedral saw revenue drop 27 percent from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009, a church spokesman said. The church had projected an 18 percent revenue drop. Church leaders blamed the decline on the struggling U.S. economy.
Nevada: Deputy not guilty
A federal jury in Reno has acquitted a former sheriff’s deputy of bribery charges after she was accused of accepting nearly $10,000 in gifts to give special treatment to the jailed founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” video empire. Ex-Washoe County Sheriff’s Sgt. Michon Mills embraced her attorney and broke into tears as the foreman of the jury read the “not guilty” verdict Friday after six hours of deliberations. Mills had been accused of accepting a $4,500 watch and a $5,000 gift card from an associate of Joe Francis while he was jailed in Reno on tax charges.
Afghanistan: Three are dead
Two U.S. service members and one U.S. employee were killed Friday in Afghanistan, pushing the American death toll this month to 29. NATO announced the deaths in a statement that did not say whether the three were killed by hostile fire or an accident. It said the incident was under investigation and no further information was available. The number of American dead as January draws to a close is more than double the 14 reported in the same month last year, reflecting warnings that more U.S. casualties were expected with an influx of 37,000 coalition forces.
Indonesia: Rocket hits farm
A test rocket fired by Indonesia’s state-run weapons manufacturer crashed into a farm and seriously wounded the owners. A Research and Technology Ministry spokesman said Friday 10 rockets were fired earlier this week in East Java by developer PT Pindad. He said one 9-foot long RKN 200 rocket missed its target because of high winds and the couple were hit by shrapnel.
Mexico: Decapitated bodies
Authorities found the decapitated bodies of six men Friday in the state of Michoacan, a hotspot of drug violence where armed men later ambushed a federal police patrol, killing five officers and wounding seven. State prosecutors said six bodies and severed heads were discovered at the entrance to the town of Acahuato. Later Friday, state Public Safety Secretary Minerva Bautista said a group of at least a dozen armed men attacked a federal police convoy, opening fire on the vehicles from a highway overpass near the city of Maravatio.
From Herald news services