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In brief: Federal court refuses to halt same-sex marriages in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that gay marriages can continue in Utah, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings that have been occurring at a rapid rate since last week.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Utah’s request for an emergency stay marks yet another legal setback for the state. The same federal judge who ruled that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights previously denied the state’s request to halt the marriages. The appeals court said in its short ruling that a decision to put gay marriage on hold was not warranted, but said it put the case on the fast track for a full appeal of the ruling.

Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s what the Utah Attorney General’s Office is prepared to do, spokesman Ryan Bruckman said. “We’re disappointed in the ruling, but we just have to take it to the next level.”

Judge says girl can be taken off life support

OAKLAND, Calif. – A judge on Tuesday ruled that a 13-year-old Northern California girl declared brain dead after suffering complications following a tonsillectomy can be taken off life support.

But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Evelio Grillo gave Jahi McMath’s family until 5 p.m. Dec. 30 to file an appeal. She will stay on life support until then.

Relatives said the family has not decided if they would keep fighting.

“It’s Christmas Eve, there is still time for a miracle,” said Omari Sealey, the girl’s uncle. He said the family would discuss and decide later whether to appeal or to allow the hospital to remove the girl from the ventilator.

Children’s Hospital of Oakland, where Jahi is hospitalized, asked that the girl be taken off life support after doctors there concluded she was brain dead.

Anonymous donor gives $650,000 for bridge

LINCOLN, Neb. – Three years after a flood wiped out a 100-year-old bridge spanning the Elkhorn River in Neligh, residents of the small northeastern Nebraska city received a festive surprise: an anonymous, $650,000 donation to rebuild the structure.

The city received a check from the donor’s Chicago-based attorney last week for use on the condition that residents never try to uncover the donor’s identity. If they discover the name by accident, city officials must stay sworn to secrecy.

A flood swept away a section of the steel-truss bridge in 2010 and devoured a chunk of the river’s south bank. Residents tried to raise the money for repairs but collected only a few thousand dollars.


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Police: Man killed deputy, stole his car and robbed store

new  NORRIDGEWOCK, Maine – A gunman in Maine killed a sheriff’s deputy, stole his cruiser and robbed a convenience store early Wednesday, triggering an intensive manhunt in a heavily wooded rural town, officials said. Somerset County Cpl. Eugene Cole was killed around 1:45 a.m. on U.S. Route 2 in Norridgewock, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) west of Bangor, state police said. His cruiser was driven to a Cumberland Farms store, which was robbed.