Gay marriage bill passes in state house
The Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed legislation Thursday to allow gays and lesbians to marry in the only New England state where they can't. The House voted 51-19 after an often emotional debate that touched on civil rights, religion and the nature of marriage. The bill now moves to the Senate, where both supporters and opponents say its fate is difficult to predict.
Syria bombs rebel areas near capital
Syrian warplanes bombed rebel areas near Damascus on Thursday as President Bashar Assad's troops battled opposition fighters for control of the road linking the capital to the country's largest airport. Though the capital remains secure, conditions have worsened with prices for basic goods rising and fuel in short supply. U.S. officials said Thursday they think Assad's sister and mother have left the country, suggesting hardship has reached even the leadership's families. France's foreign minister, meanwhile, suggested Assad's fall was not imminent, a stark admission by a country that ardently supports the rebels.
Principal failed to report abuse claim
A now-retired principal twice failed to report accusations of sexual misconduct by a teacher arrested this week on suspicion of molesting 19 students at a Wilmington, Calif., elementary school, officials said. In 2002 and 2008, principal Irene Hinojosa was told that teacher Robert Pimentel, 57, inappropriately touched a student. But the principal failed to tell law enforcement authorities, as required by law, L.A. schools superintendent John Deasy said. Police began investigating Pimentel only last year when they learned of more recent allegations. Detectives will investigate whether Hinojosa should face charges.
Al-Qaida's No. 2 in Yemen is killed
Saeed Ali al-Shihri, Al-Qaida's No. 2 in Yemen, died of wounds sustained in a U.S. drone attack Oct. 28 in southern Yemen, the country's official news agency and a security official said Thursday. The SABA news agency said he had been in a coma since then. The CIA and Pentagon recently have escalated drone strikes against militants. Separately, a U.N. panel began investigating drone warfare and targeted killings.
Five go on trial in brutal gang rape
The trial of five men accused in the gang rape of a 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus and her later death began Thursday in a special fast-track court. The presiding judge said there would be a blanket ban on reporting on the trial. If convicted, the five could be hanged.
Islamic militant group splits in two
Ansar Dine, one of the main Islamic militant groups fighting to control Mali, split in two Thursday when one of its leaders said in a statement published by Radio France International that he would form his own group to seek negotiations to settle the country's crisis. The new group calls itself the Islamic Movement for the Azawad and is led by Alghabass Ag Intalla, a prominent leader of the Tuareg ethnic group. It becomes at least the sixth group fighting to control northern Mali.