BISMARCK, N.D. – A federal judge Monday temporarily blocked a new North Dakota law that bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected – as early as six weeks into pregnancy – calling the law “clearly invalid and unconstitutional.”
U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland in Bismarck granted a temporary injunction Monday that blocks the Aug. 1 enactment of the law that abortion rights advocates call the most restrictive in the nation.
New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing the state’s lone abortion clinic, Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, filed the lawsuit in June after the law was passed this year by the North Dakota legislature.
Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the state will ask the court for a trial and already has hired an attorney to help argue the case.
Zimmerman helps car accident victims
George Zimmerman helped rescue four people from an overturned vehicle in central Florida last week, just days after he was cleared of all charges in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, officials said Monday.
Seminole County Sheriff’s spokeswoman Kim Cannaday said in a statement that deputies responding last Wednesday afternoon to the wreck in Sanford – the Orlando suburb where Martin was shot – found Zimmerman and another man had already helped a couple and their two children out of a flipped SUV off the road near Interstate 4. They were not hurt.
This is believed to be the first time Zimmerman, 29, has been seen publicly since his acquittal on a second-degree murder charge in the 17-year-old Martin’s death in February 2012.
Flemmi: I watched Bulger kill my child
Stephen “The Rifleman” Flemmi, the former partner of reputed gangster James “Whitey” Bulger, testified Monday that he watched as Bulger strangled Flemmi’s stepdaughter, a woman who had called him “Daddy” since she was a toddler.
Flemmi, testifying during Bulger’s racketeering trial, said Bulger killed Deborah Hussey because she was using drugs, getting arrested and dropping their names when she got in trouble.
Bulger, 83, is accused of participating in 19 killings during the 1970s and ’80s while leading the notorious Winter Hill Gang. He fled Boston in 1994 and was one of the nation’s most-wanted fugitives until he was captured in Santa Monica, Calif., two years ago.
Flemmi, 79, pleaded guilty to 10 murders and is serving a life sentence.
Military chief warns on US action in Syria
Establishing a no-fly zone to protect Syrian rebels would require hundreds of U.S. aircraft at a cost as much as $1 billion per month and no assurance that it would change the momentum in the 2-year-old civil war, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday in a cautionary assessment of more aggressive American military action.
In a letter, Gen. Martin Dempsey outlined the risks, costs and benefits of action as the Obama administration weighs its next move to help the opposition battling the forces of President Bashar Assad. The sectarian conflict has killed an estimated 93,000 and displaced millions, prompting more calls on Capitol Hill for greater American action.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels went on the offensive in Syria’s north Monday, seizing three villages and attacking a main supply road, trying to counter government advances in recent weeks throughout the country.
Public vote sought for Israeli peace deal
Israel’s premier announced Monday he is fast-tracking legislation that would allow him to put any peace deal with the Palestinians to a national referendum – an apparent attempt to silence hard-liners in his party and coalition government.
Benjamin Netanyahu spoke three days after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said progress has been made toward a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, stalled for five years.
Kerry has invited Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington for preliminary talks, though wide gaps remain on the framework of the actual negotiations.
Netanyahu said Monday that a referendum is necessary to prevent a rift in Israeli society.
EU puts Hezbollah on its terror list
The European Union placed the military wing of Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group and political party, on its terror list Monday in a major policy change toward the Middle East.
The EU’s 28 foreign ministers reached the decision unanimously at their monthly meeting, swiftly swaying the last nations that had expressed opposition by committing to continued political dialogue with Beirut.
The action came after prolonged diplomatic pressure from the United States, the Netherlands and Israel, which consider Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
Iraqi prison locked down after attack
Iraqi security forces locked down areas around the infamous Abu Ghraib prison and another high-security detention facility on Baghdad’s outskirts Monday to hunt for escaped inmates and militants after daring insurgent assaults set hundreds of detainees free.
The carefully orchestrated late-night attacks killed dozens Sunday, including at least 25 members of the Iraqi security forces. Insurgents fired dozens of mortar shells and detonated suicide and car bombs, drawing Iraqi forces into firefights that lasted more than an hour.
Attacks elsewhere claimed at least 18 more lives Monday, many of them soldiers, highlighting the rapidly deteriorating security conditions across Iraq.
Crowd frees woman from train platform
Dozens of Japanese train passengers pushed a 32-ton train carriage away from the platform to free a woman who had fallen into the 8-inch gap between the train and platform during Tokyo’s busy morning rush hour Monday.
A public announcement that a passenger was trapped prompted about 40 people to join train officials to push the carriage, whose suspension system allows it to lean to either side, according to the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan’s largest daily.
The unnamed woman in her 30s was then pulled out uninjured to applause from onlookers at JR Minami-Urawa station, just north of Tokyo.
After just an eight-minute delay, the train went on its way.
Mother of alleged art thief backtracks
The mother of a man charged with stealing works by Picasso, Monet and Matisse has apparently backtracked on a confession that she burned the paintings in order to protect her son.
Olga Dogaru told a Bucharest court Monday that she did not burn the paintings in her stove, contradicting earlier statements, news agencies reported. The court was ruling on whether to keep her under arrest. Her lawyer, Catalin Dancu, said in televised statements that he did not believe that the paintings – stolen in a daring heist in the Netherlands – were burned. He could not be reached for comment.