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Judge blocks new Texas rule forcing the burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages

A federal judge on Thursday blocked until at least next month hotly debated Texas rules mandating burial or cremation of fetal remains that were set to go into effect within days.

The ruling by Austin-based U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks begins the latest legal battle for a state whose tough anti-abortion laws were largely struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer.


Gov.-elect Cooper threatens to sue over N.C. GOP 'power grab'

Roy CooperNorth Carolina Gov.-elect Roy Cooper, a Democrat, on Thursday threatened to sue North Carolina's GOP-dominated state Legislature over the Republicans' push to sharply limit gubernatorial powers before Cooper takes office.

"If I believe these measures are unconstitutional, they will see me in court and they don't have a good track record there," Cooper, currently the state attorney general, said at a news conference. Cooper said the Legislature was pushing to pass major changes to the state's laws "in the dark of night with little debate." The new bills are being considered as part of a special session originally convened to consider disaster relief.


Massachusetts Tiptoes Into Marijuana Legalization

Ppot leglization in MassachusettsMassachusetts on Thursday became the first state in the densely populated U.S. Northeast to legalize marijuana for recreational use, a step that advocates say could help spread the drug’s acceptance across the United States.

The state is one of three where ballot measures legalizing recreational use of the drug passed on Nov. 8, along with California and Nevada, while voters in Arizona rejected it and a Maine ballot is still being recounted.


Ex-Milwaukee officer charged in fatal shooting of black man

Dominique Heagan-BrownA prosecutor has charged a former Milwaukee police officer in a fatal shooting of a black man that sparked two nights of riots.

District Attorney John Chisholm charged Dominique Heaggan-Brown with first-degree reckless homicide. Chisholm didn't announce the charge, but it appeared in online court records that also showed Heaggan-Brown made an initial court appearance Thursday.


Alan Thicke, '80s Sitcom Dad And Theme Song Composer, Dies At 69

Alan ThickeAlan Thicke, a versatile performer who gained his greatest renown as the beloved dad on a long-running sitcom, has died at age 69.

Carleen Donovan, who is a publicist for Thicke's son, singer Robin Thicke, said the actor died from a heart attack on Tuesday in Los Angeles. She had no further details.

Thicke was a Canadian-born TV host, writer, composer and actor well-known in his homeland before making his name in the United States, most notably with the ABC series "Growing Pains."


Louisiana judge throws out executive order to protect LGBT rights

La Judge throws out law to protect LBGT citizensA Louisiana judge on Wednesday threw out an order from the state's Democratic governor aimed at protecting the rights of gay and transgender people, ruling that the governor had overstepped his authority.

In addition to protecting LGBT rights, the executive order from Governor John Bel Edwards protected state employees against discrimination based on race, religion, disability and age. It banned state agencies from discrimination, while offering an exemption for churches and religious organizations.


Justice Department sues Virginia county that refused permit to mosque

Mosque refused permitThe Justice Department is suing a Virginia county accused of discriminating against Muslim residents who want to build a small mosque.

Federal prosecutors said that authorities in Culpeper violated the rights of the Islamic Center of Culpeper when it denied the sewage permit for their new house of worship.

The county had never denied an application in 26 attempts since 1992, according to the suit filed Monday, which says the county violated a federal law on religious discrimination and land use passed in 2000.


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