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Prince Harry passes key helicopter test

Prince Harry makes pre-flight checks from Camp Bastion, southern Afghanistan. (Associated Press)
Prince Harry makes pre-flight checks from Camp Bastion, southern Afghanistan. (Associated Press)

Britain’s defense ministry says Prince Harry has qualified to command an Apache attack helicopter – the culmination of his training over the last three years.

Harry, known as Capt. Wales in the army, earlier this year completed a 20-week deployment in Afghanistan as a co-pilot gunner on an Apache and since then has flown missions in the U.K. His commanding officer, Lt. Col. Tom de la Rue, called the qualification a “tremendous achievement,” saying in a statement Friday that 28-year-old Harry had passed with “flying colors.”

Miss USA ex-contestant loses appeal

A federal judge in New York has upheld an arbitrator’s ruling that a Pennsylvania beauty queen must pay the Miss USA pageant $5 million for defaming Donald Trump’s pageant organization.

Sheena Monnin resigned as Miss Pennsylvania last year, saying the Miss USA contest was rigged. She claimed another contestant learned the names of the top five finishers hours before the show was broadcast.

She posted a series of messages on Facebook and spoke publicly about her claims. Trump’s Miss Universe Organization sued Monnin for defamation and an arbitrator ruled against her in December. The arbitrator said Monnin’s allegations cost the pageant a $5 million fee from a potential 2013 sponsor.

Singer’s father celebrates wedding

Beyonce has a stepmother. Her father and former manager, Mathew Knowles, got married last Sunday to former model Gena Charmaine Avery in Houston, Texas.

The 61-year-old Knowles guided his daughter to superstardom with the group Destiny’s Child and later in her solo career; she released her father as her manager in 2011. Knowles, head of Music World Entertainment, still manages several gospel acts including Grammy-winner Le’Andria Johnson. Knowles and Beyonce’s mother, Tina, divorced in 2011 after 31 years of marriage.

The birthday bunch

Former first lady Nancy Reagan is 92. Singer-actress Della Reese is 82. Actor Ned Beatty is 76. Former President George W. Bush is 67. Actor-director Sylvester Stallone is 67. Actress Shelley Hack is 66. Actor Geoffrey Rush is 62. Rapper 50 Cent is 38. Actress Eva Green is 33.


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.