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In brief: France triples its force in Mali

BAMAKO, Mali – After a punishing bombing campaign failed to halt the advance of al-Qaida-linked fighters, France pledged Tuesday to triple the size of its force in Mali, sending in hundreds more troops as it prepared for a land assault to dislodge the militants occupying the northern half of the country.

The move reversed France’s earlier insistence on providing only aerial and logistical support for a military intervention led by African ground troops.

Despite five days of airstrikes the rebels have extended their reach, taking over a strategically important military camp in the central Malian town of Diabaly on Monday.

On Tuesday, France announced it was increasing the number of troops from 800 to 2,500. The offensive was to have been led by thousands of African troops pledged by Mali’s neighbors, but they have yet to arrive, making it increasingly apparent that France will be leading the attack rather than playing a supporting role.

Houseboats covered by local home laws

WASHINGTON – A house that sits on the water is a floating home, not a vessel, the Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

The 7-2 decision upholds laws in California, Washington and other states that say houseboats are governed by local laws applying to homes, not maritime law that regulates vessels.

Justice Stephen Breyer said a vessel is something that is “actually used for transportation.” It is not “anything that floats,” he added.

The high court ruling is a victory for a Florida man who parked his two-story houseboat at a marina in Rivera Beach, Fla. City officials later seized it for unpaid fees and had it destroyed. Their decision was upheld under federal maritime law.

The owner, Fane Lozman, appealed to the Supreme Court, arguing that his home would have been protected from seizure under ordinary laws governing real estate. The justices agreed and sent the case back to Florida, where Lozman can seek to recover a $25,000 bond that was set aside.

Two killed, one hurt in college shooting

HAZARD, Ky. – Two people were killed and one teen was critically injured in a parking lot shooting at Hazard Community and Technical College on Tuesday.

Hazard Police Chief Minor Allen said the shooting just before 6 p.m. “could be related to a domestic-type situation” that was unrelated to the school. The victims had not been identified as of 9 p.m., but Allen said those who died were a man in his mid-50s and a woman in her late 20s. A juvenile girl who was critically injured in the shooting was taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

The alleged shooter turned himself in to Kentucky State Police.

Gunman shoots man, self at school

ST. LOUIS – A part-time student strode into the office of a longtime administrator at a downtown St. Louis business school Tuesday and shot the man in the chest, creating panic in the school before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Both men were in surgery Tuesday afternoon at Saint Louis University Hospital.

Police did not identify either man, but said the administrator was a longtime employee in his late 40s. He said the suspect had been attending Stevens Institute of Business & Arts off and on for four years.


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