Nation, World Briefs: Court official quits after marriage dispute

BATON ROUGE, La. — A Louisiana justice of the peace who refuses to marry interracial couples resigned Tuesday, after weeks of calls for his ouster from civil rights groups and several public officials, including the governor. Bardwell, who is white, acknowledged he routinely avoids marrying interracial couples because he believes children born to them end up suffering. Keith Bardwell quit with a one-sentence statement to Louisiana Secretary of State Jay Dardenne: “I do hereby resign the office of Justice of the Peace for the Eighth Ward of Tangipahoa Parish, Louisiana, effective November 3, 2009.” Gov. Bobby Jindal called Bardwell’s resignation “long overdue.”

D.C.: Sick leave for flu sought

A senior House lawmaker is asking Congress to guarantee paid sick leave to workers if their employer asks them to stay home with swine flu or a similar contagious illness. House Education and Labor Committee chairman George Miller said his measure would protect about 50 million workers with no paid sick leave. Many of those employees work in low-wage jobs in food service and hospitality, where they could make others sick. Miller said those workers shouldn’t have to choose between their paychecks and the health of co-workers or customers.

Missouri: Flier sentenced

A Turkish-Canadian man was sentenced Tuesday to two years in federal prison for stealing a plane in Canada and flying over three states before landing along a dark southern Missouri highway. Adam Dylan Leon might have received only 12 to 18 months. But the U.S. District judge went beyond federal sentencing guidelines in deciding punishment. He said the 31-year-old’s actions posed risks to himself and others, cost the government $230,000 to keep fighter jets in the air for seven hours tracking him, and caused the Madison, Wis., capitol to evacuate.

California: Guns, cash seized

U.S. authorities said they are seizing significantly more illicit cash and guns along the Mexican border. Three federal agencies that police the border said Tuesday that $40 million in Mexico-bound cash was seized on the southwest border from mid-March through September. That is nearly double the amount from the same period in 2008. The agencies say officers also seized nearly 600 illegal weapons headed for Mexico, up more than 50 percent from last fiscal year.

Rhode Island: Hooker bill

Gov. Don Carcieri has signed legislation closing a loophole that made indoor prostitution legal and allowed more than 30 suspected brothels to operate around the state. The bills signed Tuesday end Rhode Island’s status as the only state that allowed indoor prostitution statewide. Lawmakers inadvertently created the loophole in 1980 when they passed a law cracking down on prostitutes and their customers who operated in public. But it was silent on paid sex in private. The new law took effect immediately.

Mexico: Jet turbulence blamed

Investigators have confirmed that turbulence from a Boeing 767 caused the crash of a government jet that killed Mexico’s interior secretary and 15 other people a year ago. The lead government investigator said the pilots of the Learjet 45 were too slow to reduce their speed and came up too close behind the jetliner, which was on the same flight path to Mexico City’s international airport. He presented the final report of the investigation on Tuesday.

Italy: Ruling irks the Vatican

The Vatican on Tuesday denounced a ruling by the European court of human rights that said the display of crucifixes in Italian public schools violates religious and education freedoms. In a decision that could force a review of the use of religious symbols in government-run schools across Europe, the court ordered Italy to pay a $7,390 fine to a mother in northern Italy who fought for eight years to have crucifixes removed from her children’s public school classrooms. The Italian government said it would appeal.

Norway: Flu medicine sales

Norway is allowing over-the-counter sales of flu medicines Tamiflu and Relenza in response to the rapid spread of swine flu. The health minister said Tuesday that abolishing the need for prescriptions will allow Norway to “more easily handle” the pandemic. The policy goes into effect Thursday and will last until the middle of 2010. Officials estimate that more than 100,000 Norwegians have been infected with swine flu. Fifteen have died.

From Herald news services

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