BY Wire reports
Thursday, January 10, 2013
1/10/13 at 3:21 AM
Famous church's bells to ring for same-sex couples
WASHINGTON - The Washington National Cathedral had been ready to embrace same-sex marriage for some time, though it took a series of recent events and a new leader for the prominent, 106-year-old church to announce Wednesday that it would begin hosting such nuptials.
The key development came last July when the Episcopal Church approved a ceremony for same-sex unions at its General Convention in Indianapolis, followed by the legalization of gay marriage in Maryland, which joined the District of Columbia. The national church made a special allowance for marriage ceremonies in states where gay marriage is legal.
Longtime same-sex marriage advocate the Very Rev. Gary Hall took over as the cathedral's dean in October.
The Episcopal bishop of Washington, the Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde, authorized use of the new marriage rite in December for 89 congregations in D.C. and Maryland. Each priest then decides whether to marry same-sex couples.
"This was something that was brewing in the cathedral. We were really waiting for him," Budde told The Associated Press.
Flu season sees Boston declare health emergency
BOSTON - Boston declared a public health emergency Wednesday as flu season struck in earnest and the state reported 18 flu-related deaths so far.
The city is working with health care centers to offer free flu vaccines and also hopes to set up places where people can get vaccinated. The city said there had been four flu-related deaths, all elderly residents, since the unofficial start of the flu season Oct. 1.
"The best thing you can do to protect yourself and your family is to get the flu shot," said Boston Mayor Thomas Menino.
The city was experiencing its worst flu season since at least 2009, Menino said, with about 700 confirmed cases of the flu, compared with 70 all of last season.
Massachusetts was one of 29 states reporting high levels of "influenza-like illness," according to the most recent weekly flu advisory issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NYC crane collapses; 7 people hurt, 3 seriously
NEW YORK - A 200-foot crane collapsed onto a building under construction near the East River waterfront Wednesday, injuring seven people, three of them seriously.
A two-story framework for the residential building in the New York City borough of Queens had been erected when the crane toppled and went sprawling across it.
Two cranes collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing a total of nine people and spurring new safety measures.
Sandusky due in court for defense claims hearing
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky is expected to appear in court Thursday for a hearing about whether his lawyers had enough time to prepare for his child sex abuse trial and other defense claims about the fairness of his proceedings.
The hearing in Bellefonte was scheduled to take up a set of legal challenges filed by Sandusky's lawyers, including their claim that a deluge of prosecution materials swamped the defense.
Sandusky, who was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse, arrived Wednesday at the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte. He is serving a 30- to 60-year state prison sentence at Greene State Prison in the state's southwest corner, nearly 200 miles away. The 68-year-old maintains his innocence.
In a recent brief, Sandusky's lawyers said the state Supreme Court has ruled that defense attorneys have to undertake "reasonable investigations" or make decisions that those investigations aren't needed.
"Given the vast amount of material the prosecution turned over at the 11th hour, it is clear counsel could not come close to fulfilling this obligation," wrote attorneys Joe Amendola and Norris Gelman.
Float driver won't face charges in train crash
MIDLAND, Texas - A grand jury on Wednesday declined to indict the driver of a float involved in a train collision that killed four U.S. military veterans in a West Texas parade.
Dale Andrew Hayden, the driver of the truck pulling the float, will not face charges stemming from the Nov. 15 accident that killed four veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sixteen other people were injured.
The 12-person grand jury "has not concluded its review of the incident," according to a news release issued by Midland County District Attorney Teresa Clingman.
It wasn't clear what that could mean, but the grand jury did not indict Hayden and Midland police already have said they don't plan to pursue criminal charges against him.
The veterans were riding on a flatbed truck that was hit by a Union Pacific train traveling at 62 mph. The truck was the second float in a parade organized to honor wounded veterans and their wives.
The accident remains under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Police: Fla. clerk's gun beats thief's cattle prod
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida Panhandle man has been arrested after he tried to rob a convenience store with a cattle prod but was thwarted by a clerk with a gun, authorities said Wednesday.
The Leon County Sheriff's Office said Lance Tomberlin, 26, went into a store just outside Tallahassee on Jan. 2, produced the cattle prod and demanded money from the clerk. Officials say he shocked the clerk several times before the clerk pulled a handgun.
Authorities said Tomberlin fled in his truck after another employee unsuccessfully tried to restrain him. Deputies stopped Tomberlin's truck but he fled on foot.
The Sheriff's Office said Tomberlin was arrested Tuesday and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery.
The Rev. Gary Hall, dean of the Washington National Cathedral, stands outside the church in Washington on Wednesday. The cathedral will soon be the site of same-sex marriages. EVAN VUCCI/Associated Press