News around the world
Puerto Rico poised to surpass homicide record
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – Puerto Rico is having its deadliest year on record as authorities struggle to control a rampant drug war on the U.S. Caribbean territory.
Police said Wednesday that three people died overnight in separate incidents, raising the year’s homicide toll to 995 on the island of 4 million people. That matches a 1994 record with six weeks left to go in the year.
Local authorities say 70 percent of the killings are drug related, and violence has increased partly because drug traffickers are now being paid with weapons instead of money and because many youths in public housing complexes see selling drugs as a quick way to make money.
Topeka mayor opposes domestic partner registry
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Topeka’s mayor said creating a domestic partner registry for the city would be “the wrong road to go down,” because he believes it would be another step toward legalizing gay marriage.
“I’m afraid I’m too old for this,” Mayor Bill Bunten said. “What I see happening all throughout this city and across this country is a minimizing of the need for a man and a woman to have a family.”
The registry would give couples documented proof of their relationship, which is required by some private businesses that extend benefits to their employees’ domestic partners, said councilman Andrew Gray, who is sponsoring the proposal. Companies would not be required to offer benefits to domestic partners and the registry would not grant the rights or benefits of marriage to the couples, he said.
Stocks fall as oil tops $100 a barrel
NEW YORK (AP) – Stocks fell broadly in midday trading Wednesday as the price of oil topped $100 a barrel for the first time since July.
The jump in the price of crude could weaken the already U.S. fragile economy by raising costs for gas, heating oil and airline fuel. Oil futures jumped 2.7 percent to $102 a barrel as U.S. supplies dropped and a deal for a new pipeline threatened to cut them even more.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell nearly 125 points shortly after the opening bell but trimmed about half of those losses by midday. All 10 industry groups in the S&P 500 index fell.
Eviction notices posted on Occupy London tents
LONDON (AP) – London officials attached eviction notices to protest tents outside St. Paul’s Cathedral on Wednesday, asking the demonstrators to remove the camp within a day or face legal action.
The notices posted by the City of London Corporation said the encampment was “an unlawful obstruction” of a sidewalk, and asked protesters to take down “all tents and other structures” by 6 p.m. Thursday.
If the tents are not removed, the corporation says it will go to court seeking an eviction notice – a process that could take weeks or months.
Kan. seeks to end part of abortion insurance suit
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – Kansas asked a federal judge Wednesday to reject a claim that a new state law restricting insurance coverage for abortion discriminates against women.
U.S. District Judge Wesley Brown, in Wichita, already has rejected the ACLU’s request for an order preventing the state from enforcing the law until the case goes to trial.
The law, which took effect July 1, prohibits insurance companies from offering abortion coverage as part of general health plans, except when a woman’s life is at risk, and patients wanting such coverage must buy supplemental, abortion-only policies.
Praeger’s attorneys said past U.S. Supreme Court rulings have established that opposition to abortion does not represent discrimination against women as a class.
Afghan elders’ grand council considers US presence
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Afghan president told tribal elders on Wednesday that partnership with the United States depends on ending unpopular nighttime NATO raids against insurgents and handing over control of detention centers to Afghan troops.
Hamid Karzai spoke at the opening of a grand council, where the elders are considering the terms of the future U.S. presence in their country.
Karzai told the roughly 2,000 delegates to keep in mind both the need for international help, while seeing to it that Afghans are setting the rules in their own country.