REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- Call her the girl with no name.
A 15-year-old is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name given to her by her mother. The problem? Blaer, which means "light breeze" in Icelandic, is not on a list approved by the government.
Like a handful of other countries, including Germany and Denmark, Iceland has official rules about what a baby can be named. In a country comfortable with a firm state role, most people don't question the Personal Names Register, a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules and that officials maintain will protect children from embarrassment. Parents can take from the list or apply to a special committee that has the power to say yea or nay.
In Blaer's case, her mother said she learned the name wasn't on the register only after the priest who baptized the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it.
"I had no idea that the name wasn't on the list, the famous list of names that you can choose from," said Bjork Eidsdottir, adding she knew a Blaer whose name was accepted in 1973.
This time, the panel turned it down on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland's revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness.
General allowed to retire as 3-star: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has permitted Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly, a three-star Army general accused of bullying subordinates, to retire without a demotion in rank, the Pentagon said Wednesday. A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, said O'Reilly was placed on the retirement rolls Tuesday. A Pentagon inspector general's investigation last year found that O'Reilly regularly yelled and screamed at subordinates, often in public, demeaned and belittled employees and behaved in such a way as to result in the departure of at least six senior staffers from the Missile Defense Agency during his time as its director. Panetta determined that O'Reilly had met the basic standard for being allowed to retire without a loss in rank, which is that he "served satisfactorily" as a three-star.
Obama signs $633B defense bill: President Barack Obama has signed a $633 billion defense bill for next year that tightens penalties on Iran and bolsters security at diplomatic missions worldwide after the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya. Obama had threatened to veto the measure because of a number of concerns, including limits on his authority to transfer terrorist suspects from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for one year. But Obama said that although he continued to oppose certain sections of the bill, "the need to renew critical defense authorities and funding was too great to ignore." The bill includes cuts in defense spending that the president and congressional Republicans agreed to in August 2011, along with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan.
Urge focus on U.S. deficit: The nation's two largest credit rating agencies urged Congress on Wednesday to go beyond its deal and come up with a plan to shrink the budget deficit. Moody's Investors Services said in a statement that it expects lawmakers in the coming months will take additional steps needed to lower the deficit, which has topped $1 trillion annually in each of the past four years. But if it fails to do so, the government's "Aaa" credit rating could be at risk. In a separate statement, Standard & Poor's warned that the budget agreement did little to put the government's finances on a "more sustainable footing." S&P said it would not change its rating based on the deal. In August 2011, the credit rater stunned investors by lowering its rating on long-term U.S. government debt to "AA+" and assigned a negative outlook to the rating. That followed a contentious battle to raise the government's borrowing limit.
Armed guards at N.Y. paper: The Journal News, a suburban New York newspaper that unleashed a public outcry after it published online maps with the names and addresses of Westchester and Rockland residents with pistol permits is being protected by armed guards. Newspaper publisher Janet Hasson says the guards have been posted at its White Plains headquarters and in a satellite office in West Nyack since last week. She told the New York Times, (http://nyti.ms/10QbMyS ) "The safety of my staff is my top priority."
Suspended priest gets 8 years: Rev. Bartley Sorensen, a suspended Pittsburgh-area priest, will serve more than eight years in prison for collecting thousands of images of child pornography on his computer, books and compact discs. The sentence Sorensen received Wednesday was more than the five-year mandatory minimum he sought but less than the 10-year maximum he faced. The 63-year-old Roman Catholic priest was arrested by Allegheny County authorities in December 2011 after an employee at St. John Fisher Parish in Churchill noticed him looking at a photo of a pantsless young boy on his computer. Federal officials took over the investigation after a computer search turned up thousands of child pornography images, some of them sadomasochistic. Sorensen pleaded guilty in May. At his sentencing, he expressed remorse to everyone but the young boys depicted in the pornography.
To visit final frontier of cyberspace: Google's executive chairman is preparing to travel to one of the last frontiers of cyberspace: North Korea. Eric Schmidt will be traveling to North Korea on a private, humanitarian mission led by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson that could take place as early as this month, according to two people familiar with the group's plans who asked not to be named because the visit had not been made public. The trip would be the first by a top executive from U.S.-based Google, the world's largest Internet search provider, to a country considered to have the most restrictive Internet policies on the planet.