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briefs

Custody case led to courthouse deaths

– A bitter custody battle that included an international kidnapping and prison sentences for a former optometrist and his mother ended in gunfire at a Delaware courthouse, with the doctor’s father killing his former daughter-in-law and another woman before fatally shooting himself.

Delaware State Police said 68-year-old Thomas Matusiewicz walked into the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse on Monday, pulled out a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol and shot 39-year-old Christine Belford and her 47-year-old friend Laura Mulford. He then exchanged fire with police, hitting two officers who were protected by armored vests.

Authorities were working Tuesday to understand how the killings were planned, questioning former optometrist and convicted kidnapper David Matusiewicz about his father and searching the older man’s home in Edcouch, Texas.

The yard of the small single-story home was filled with a crime scene investigation truck and unmarked gray pickup trucks commonly driven by federal agents.

Cruise passengers face dirty conditions

Passengers onboard a disabled cruise ship being towed to shore in the Gulf of Mexico told relatives they are using plastic bags to do “their business” and are otherwise trying to make the best of a bad situation by sleeping under the stars instead of in their stuffy, hot cabins.

“He said up on deck it looks like a shanty town, with sheets, almost like tents, mattresses, anything else they can pull to sleep on,” Jimmy Mowlam, 63, said his 37-year-old son, Rob Mowlam, told him by phone. Rob got married onboard Saturday.

The ship left Galveston, Texas, Thursday carrying 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members. On Sunday, the ship was about 150 miles off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula when an engine room fire knocked out its primary power source, crippling its water and plumbing systems and leaving it adrift on only a backup power.

There were no reported injuries caused by the fire, but Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said Tuesday that a passenger with a pre-existing medical condition was taken off the ship as a precaution.

Everyone else will likely have to remain onboard until the ship reaches Mobile, Ala., which is expected to happen Thursday, weather permitting.

Study questions kidney treatment

In a stunning example of when treatment might be worse than the disease, a large review of Medicare records finds that older people with small kidney tumors were much less likely to die over the next five years if doctors monitored them instead of operating right away.

Even though nearly all of these tumors turned out to be cancer, they rarely proved fatal. And surgery roughly doubled patients’ risk of developing heart problems or dying of other causes, doctors found.

Procession escorts SEAL Kyle to burial

After a 200-mile journey, former Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle was buried Tuesday in Austin as his family members and fellow SEALs looked on amid the sounds of drums and bagpipes.

A giant Texas flag flew at half-staff over the Texas State Cemetery as Kyle was laid to rest. Kyle, considered to be the deadliest sniper in U.S. military history, was killed along with a friend this month while at a North Texas gun range.

A white hearse carrying Kyle’s flag-draped coffin was among 200 vehicles in a procession that left Tuesday morning from Kyle’s hometown of Midlothian, about 25 miles southwest of Dallas, to travel to Austin. Many motorists pulled to the side of roads to watch the procession that included motorcycles, motor coaches, police cruisers and other vehicles.

WORLD

Rebels advance on Aleppo airport

Rebels captured a small military base near Aleppo on Tuesday and stormed another in the same area that protects a major airport, a day after seizing Syria’s largest dam.

With the back-to-back blows to President Bashar Assad’s regime, the opposition appears to be regaining momentum, expanding its northern zone of control and pushing deeper into the heart of the capital, Damascus.

Rebels have been attacking Aleppo’s civilian airport, which remains in regime hands, for weeks. They now appear to have removed the main defenses around the facility. Civilian flights stopped weeks ago because of the intensity of the fighting.

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