Judge upholds abortion law, but gives clinic time

A federal judge on Friday allowed Mississippi’s anti-abortion law to take effect but said the state’s only clinic can remain open and will not face any penalties as it tries to comply with new requirements.

U.S. District Judge Daniel P. Jordan III gave the clinic and the state each a partial victory with his ruling on the clinic’s request for a preliminary injunction. The law requires anyone who does abortions at the clinic to be an OB-GYN with privileges to admit patients to a local hospital. The clinic’s two out-of-state OB-GYNS don’t have those privileges and have had difficulty getting them from local hospitals.

“We do not yet know whether the clinic will obtain admitting and staff privileges,” the judge wrote. “As both parties stated during the hearing, the resolution of that issue will impact the ultimate issues in this case.”

The clinic, Jackson Women’s Health Organization, has said it could be forced out of business, making it nearly impossible to get an abortion in Mississippi.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled states can’t place undue burdens on, or create substantial obstacles to, women seeking abortions.�


Shrines spring up at tree with Virgin Mary-like image

People are flocking to a tree in northern New Jersey where some say they see the image of the Virgin Mary.

Makeshift shrines have sprung up by the tree in West New York. People have been praying, crying and leaving flowers and candles as they look at the small opening where the bark was stripped away.

A fence and other barricades also have been set up around the tree, which is in a sidewalk along a commercial strip.

Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness tells The Journal of Jersey City the image is likely “some discoloration that resembles Our Lady of Guadalupe.”


U.N. blames government for massacre in Syria

The U.N. singled out government forces Friday for blame in the latest massacre in Syria, a frenzy of killing that raises new questions about whether diplomacy has any chance to end the crisis more than 16 months into the bloodiest revolt of the Arab Spring.

As the violence turns ever more chaotic, analysts warn the effort by special envoy Kofi Annan has become nothing more than a pretense, with government forces, rebels, jihadists and others fighting for power.

“Violence and escalation have outpaced political and international diplomacy,” said Fawaz A. Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics.

“I don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. … All I see is more violence and more escalation, and this horrible massacre is another sign that Syria is spiraling out of control.”

Scores of people were killed Thursday when Syrian gunners bombarded the impoverished village of Tremseh with tanks and helicopters in what rebels claim was among the worst single days of bloodshed in the uprising against President Bashar Assad.


Socialite’s husband arrested on suspicion of her murder

The billionaire husband of a socialite known for supporting substance-abuse charities while battling her own addiction to drugs has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with her unexplained death this week, police said Friday.

Hans Kristian Rausing, 49, has been in custody since Monday, when police arrested him on suspicion of drug possession. Later that day, officers discovered the body of his wife, Eva Rausing, in the couple’s luxurious London townhouse, leading to further investigation of the heir to the Tetra Pak fortune.

“He has been arrested on suspicion of her murder,” Detective Inspector Sharon Marman said in court Friday during a preliminary inquiry into the death. However, no cause of death has yet been identified and could take weeks to establish.

Marman said police have still to interview Hans Rausing because he is not in a fit state to be questioned. Media reports say he is undergoing treatment for withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.

The case has caused a stir because the Rausings were well-known philanthropists whose charitable work earned praise from Prince Charles.

— From news service reports