Big GOP donors in gay marriage push
As gay rights advocates intensify their campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in New York, the bulk of their money is coming from an unexpected source: a group of conservative donors to the Republican Party. Their behind-the-scenes financial support — about $1 million in recent weeks — could alter the political calculus of Republican state senators in whose hands the fate of gay marriage rests. The donors are among New York's wealthiest and most politically active figures and include Paul Singer, a hedge fund manager and top-tier Republican donor, as well as financiers Steven Cohen and Clifford Asness. And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman and a major contributor to legislative Republicans in New York, is giving at least $100,000 of his own money.
News Corp. to disclose political donations
Beginning this summer, News Corp., the media company controlled by Rupert Murdoch, will announce each year all the political contributions it has made. The move comes after the company was highlighted for donating $1.25 million to the Republican Governors Association and $1 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ahead of the midterm elections last year. Critics of the company seized on the donations — which were made public only in news reports — as evidence of bias on the part of News Corp., which owns the Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal, and Murdoch, long a supporter of conservative causes.
Nuclear plant worker dies of heart attack
A worker at Japan's crippled nuclear plant died Saturday of causes that appeared to be unrelated to radiation, the plant's operator said. The Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the contract worker, who was in his 60s, died after carrying heavy equipment in a waste disposal building of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. Tepco said that he was wearing protective clothing when he collapsed, and that his body did not show high levels of radioactive contamination. Japanese media later quoted a doctor at the plant as saying the man had apparently suffered a heart attack.
New York: Federal and state judgeships held by women rose slightly this year to almost 27 percent, a report from the Albany-based Rockefeller College of Public Affairs & Policy shows. Vermont was first at almost 40 percent, unchanged from a year earlier, and Idaho remained last at 11.3 percent.
ASHEVILLE, N.C.: Doctors said Saturday that the Rev. Billy Graham, 92, is responding well to antibiotics as he recovers from pneumonia, but he is still too weak and will stay at least another night in the hospital.
Mexico: Violence motivated by an electoral dispute between indigenous communities in the Mexican state of Oaxaca left at least eight people dead, state authorities said Saturday.
Nicaragua: A Nicaraguan court again postponed a hearing for American Jason Puracal, who is accused of laundering money for organized crime, his lawyer said Saturday. The 33-year-old man from Washington state has been jailed since Nov. 11.
Cuba: Cubans held a short but colorful parade in Havana on Saturday to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. Former leader Fidel Castro's niece Mariela Castro said the march was meant to raise awareness about discrimination.
Nigeria: Nigerian authorities said 18 people were killed when a bus crashed head-on with a car in the country's northeast.