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Associated Press
A student holds up a poster that says “peace” in Spanish during a protest Thursday in Caracas, Venezuela, a day after violent clashes killed 3 people.

Va. gay marriage ban reversed

– A federal judge has ruled that Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s decision Thursday makes Virginia the second state in the South to issue a ruling recognizing the legality of gay marriages. A judge in Kentucky ruled Wednesday that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

The Virginia judge’s ruling also follows similar decisions in Utah and Oklahoma federal courts.

Wright stayed her decision until an appeals court rules, meaning that gay couples will not be able to marry in the state immediately.


NJ traffic jam was not life-or-death

A traffic jam deliberately orchestrated by members of Gov. Chris Christie’s staff that caused days of gridlock in northern New Jersey appeared not to lead to anyone’s death or seriously compromise anyone’s medical care, according to a comprehensive review by The Associated Press of five hours of emergency dispatch audio, interviews and dozens of pages of call logs.

The lack of life-or-death consequences reflects good fortune, not good planning. But the AP’s real-world findings could affect the political repercussions for Christie, a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2016.

California handgun limits overturned

In a surprising ruling, a federal appeals court Thursday declared unconstitutional the restrictions that many California counties have used to sharply limit the right to carry a concealed handgun.

The 2-1 ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a San Diego case could be appealed. But if it stands, “California will join the vast majority of other states that now (freely) issue permits to people for self-defense,” said Chuck Michel, attorney for the California Rifle and Pistol Association.

Doctor convicted of waterboarding girl

A Delaware jury has convicted a pediatrician of waterboarding his companion’s daughter by holding the child’s head under a faucet.

The jury returned the verdict Thursday against 60-year-old Melvin Morse. He was convicted of one felony and five misdemeanors and will be sentenced April 11. Morse could face several years in prison.

Morse has researched near-death experiences involving children. He denied police claims that he may have been experimenting on the girl. Defense attorneys argued that “waterboarding” was a term jokingly used to describe hair-washing that the girl did not like.

‘Waltons’ father Ralph Waite dies

Ralph Waite, who played the kind patriarch of a tight-knit rural Southern family on the TV series “The Waltons,” has died, his manager said Thursday. He was 85.

Waite, who lived in the Palm Springs area, died midday Thursday, said his manager, Alan Mills. He did not know the cause of death.

Mills said Waite had been in good health and still working. He appeared last year in episodes of the series “NCIS,” “Bones” and “Days of Our Lives.”


Venezuela activists fear crackdown

Members of Venezuela’s opposition said Thursday they were bracing for a crackdown after authorities tried to search the offices of a political party and blamed a hard-line leader for inciting violence that led to three deaths during anti-government street protests.

A day after more than 10,000 people marched against President Nicolas Maduro’s 10-month-old government, a swirl of rumors hung over much of Caracas.

A group of about 200 students occupied the city’s main highway for two hours before rejoining a peaceful protest in the city’s wealthy eastern district to demand justice for a 24-year-old anti-government demonstrator who was killed Wednesday.

Volcanic ash covers swath of Indonesia

Volcanic ash from a major eruption in Indonesia shrouded a large swath of the country’s most densely populated island early today, closed three major airports and sent thousands fleeing.

First light brought clear the extent of the overnight explosive eruption at Mount Kelud on Java Island, though there was no immediate word on any casualties.

Booms from the mountain could be heard 80 miles away in Surabaya, the country’s second-largest city, and even further afield in Jogyakarta.

Doctor: Survivor won’t return to sea

Doctors say the Salvadoran fisherman who apparently drifted at sea for more than a year is vowing never to return to the ocean and even plans to avoid the beach.

Fredy Sermeno, head of psychiatry at the San Rafael hospital, said sailor Jose Salvador Alvarenga has no serious mental problems, but “what has stayed with him is fear of the sea, he doesn’t want to know anything about the sea. He wants to avoid, in any way possible, being in front of the sea.”

Alvarenga, 37, underwent a battery of tests after returning home from the Marshall Islands, where he showed up after what he called a 6,500-mile journey from Mexico that began when his small fishing boat was thrown off course by bad weather.