Ariz. gov. vetoes bill for refusing service to gays

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PHOENIX -- Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday vetoed a Republican bill that set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

Loud cheers erupted outside the Capitol building immediately after Brewer made her announcement.

"My agenda is to sign into law legislation that advances Arizona," Brewer said at a news conference. "I call them like I see them despite the cheers or the boos from the crowd. After weighing all the arguments, I have vetoed Senate Bill 1062 moments ago."

The Republican governor said she gave the legislation careful deliberation in talking to her lawyers, citizens, businesses and lawmakers on both sides of the debate. Her office said it received more than 40,000 calls and emails on the legislation, with most of them urging a veto.

Brewer said the bill "could divide Arizona in ways we could not even imagine and no one would ever want." The bill was broadly worded and could result in unintended negative consequences, she added.

Struck down by federal judge: Federal Judge Orlando Garcia declared a same-sex marriage ban in deeply conservative Texas unconstitutional on Wednesday, but will allow the nation's second-most populous state to enforce the law pending an appeal that will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court. Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. His ruling is the latest in a tangled web of lawsuits across the country expected to end up in the Supreme Court next year.

Gives birth in NYC crosswalk: A New York City woman and her newborn are doing well after the baby girl made a surprise entrance on a busy street. The open-air birth happened Monday afternoon on Manhattan's Upper East Side. According to New York's Fox 5 News (http://fxn.ws/1hUk96g ), the woman left her building to go to the hospital and her doorman tried to hail a taxi for her. But the baby couldn't wait, and the woman lowered herself onto the ground in the crosswalk. One witness told the TV station, "She was like, 'Oh my God, the baby's coming.' " Several people stopped to help until police and medics arrived. Women offered scarves to wrap the baby. An ambulance took the mother and baby to nearby Lenox Hill Hospital. A hospital spokesman said they went home Wednesday.

Dempsey sees grim future: Depicting a grim future for Afghanistan without U.S. help, the top U.S. military officer said Wednesday that Afghanistan's refusal to sign a security agreement with the United States may make the fight more difficult this year, embolden the enemy and prompt some Afghan security forces to cooperate with the Taliban to "hedge their bets." Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spent the day with his commanders and troops in Afghanistan working to manage the after-effects of President Barack Obama's order Tuesday to begin actively planning for a total withdrawal of U.S. troops by the end of the year. In back-to-back meetings, he urged them to focus on the considerable military work they have to do and not worry about next year.

Russia orders war games: Russia ordered 150,000 troops to test their combat readiness Wednesday in a show of force that prompted a blunt warning from the United States that any military intervention in Ukraine would be a "grave mistake." Vladimir Putin's announcement of huge new war games came as Ukraine's protest leaders named Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a millionaire former banker, to head a new government after the pro-Russian president went into hiding. The new government, which is expected to be formally approved by parliament today, will face the hugely complicated task of restoring stability in a country that is not only deeply divided politically but on the verge of financial collapse. Its fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, fled the capital last week.

Sentenced for fraud of church, investors: Gregory Loles, a former Connecticut securities broker, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal charges that he swindled investors, including a Greek Orthodox church, out of more than $27 million. Loles of Easton pleaded guilty in 2011 to single counts of mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud and money laundering. He was sentenced Wednesday in Hartford. Prosecutors said Loles stole from more than 50 victims over nearly a decade. He allegedly took about $14 million from a family in Greece and about $2 million from St. Barbara church in Orange, whose investments he managed. Prosecutors said Loles' broker registration had been cancelled but he convinced the victims he was an investment manager and misrepresented his successes.

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