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Briefs

North Dakota abortion bills signed

– North Dakota’s governor positioned the oil-rich state Tuesday as a primary battleground in the decades-old fight over abortion rights, signing into law the nation’s toughest restriction on the procedure and urging lawmakers to set aside cash for an inevitable legal challenge.

Minutes after Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple signed three anti-abortion measures – one banning them as early as six weeks into a pregnancy – unsolicited donations began pouring into the state’s lone abortion clinic to help opponents prove the new laws are unconstitutional.

Dalrymple seemed determined to open a legal debate on the legislation, acknowledging “the constitutionality of this measure is an open question.” He asked the legislature to set aside money for a “litigation fund” that would allow the state’s attorney general to defend the measure against lawsuits.

Nation

Secret Service gets first female director

President Obama on Tuesday named veteran Secret Service agent Julia Pierson as the agency’s first female director, signaling his desire to change the culture at the male-dominated service, which has been marred by scandal.

Pierson, who most recently served as the agency’s chief of staff, will take over from Mark Sullivan, who announced his retirement last month. The agency faced intense criticism during Sullivan’s tenure for a prostitution scandal during preparations for Obama’s trip to Cartagena, Colombia, last year.

Drilling blamed for ’11 Oklahoma quake

An unusual and widely felt 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma in 2011 was probably caused when oil drilling waste was pushed deep underground, a team of university and federal scientists concluded.

That would make it the most powerful quake to be blamed on deep injections of wastewater, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Geology. The waste was from traditional drilling, not from the hydraulic fracturing technique, or fracking.

Not everyone agrees, though, with the scientists’ conclusion: Oklahoma’s state seismologists say the quake was natural.

The Nov. 6 earthquake near Prague, Okla., injured two people, damaged 14 houses and was felt for hundreds of miles in 14 states, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Mark Kelly’s family can’t save sea lion

The daughter of former astronaut Mark Kelly was walking her dog Shiner on Goff Island Beach near Laguna Beach, Calif., when the dog bolted, ripping the leash from her hand and fatally attacking a beached baby sea lion.

Video showed the owner and two other women struggling several minutes in vain to pull the bulldog mix off the sea lion. As his daughter Claudia screamed and cried, Kelly arrived and grabbed the collar. He shook the dog’s head until it released the bloodied mammal, which later died.

Kelly is married to former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., in 2011. His daughters, Claudia and Claire, are from a previous marriage.

‘It’s a Small World’ mishap settled

An attorney says a disabled man was awarded $8,000 by Disneyland after the “It’s A Small World” ride broke, stranding him for three hours while the theme song played continuously.

Lawyer David Geffen says Jose Martinez was the only passenger not evacuated when the ride broke down in 2009, and staffers failed to call the fire department to free him. The ride’s familiar song couldn’t be turned off the entire time Martinez was stuck.

Geffen says Martinez uses a wheelchair, suffers from panic attacks and high blood pressure and needed to urinate for much of the time he was stranded.

World

Myanmar violence leads to curfew

Authorities in Myanmar imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew in three townships after anti-Muslim religious violence touched new parts of the country, edging closer to the main city of Yangon.

State television Tuesday reported incidents in the three townships in Bago region, all within 100 miles of Yangon. The latest attack Monday night was in Gyobingauk, where it said “troublemakers” damaged a religious building, shops and some houses.

The report said similar attacks on religious buildings, shops and houses occurred in nearby Otepho and Min Hla on Sunday night.

Official reports use the term “religious buildings” in an apparent attempt to dampen passion, though in most cases the targets were reportedly mosques.

Peru resumes draft; dodge it for $700

Facing a shortage of recruits, Peru’s government has reinstated selective, obligatory military service. But it can be avoided by paying a $700 fine, prompting accusations that what is really being imposed is a draft for the poor.

Military service had been voluntary since 1998, but meager wages, scant job training and a lack of other incentives amid an improving economy left Peru’s armed forces short 30,000 recruits this year.

Military chief Adm. Jose Cueto announced over the weekend that a draft would be held in May. It applies to all 18- to 25-year-old males chosen by lottery. Parents and university students are exempt.

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