World/nation briefs

  • Updated: February 14, 2013 - 8:31 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.

New vision treatment for blind approved

The FDA on Thursday approved the first treatment to give limited vision to people who are blind, involving a technology called the "artificial retina." With it, people with certain types of blindness can detect crosswalks on the street, burners on a stove, the presence of people or cars, and sometimes even oversized numbers or letters.

ILLINOIS

State Senate approves gay marriage measure

The Democratic-led Senate delivered a Valentine's Day 34-21 victory to gay and lesbian couples, passing legislation for the first time that would allow same-sex marriage in the state. The gay marriage measure now goes to the House, where the fight is expected to be tougher. Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to sign the bill if it reaches his desk.

NEW JERSEY

Lautenberg to retire from U.S. Senate

Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a staunch liberal, an advocate of gun control and public infrastructure, announced he will not seek re-election in 2014. Lautenberg, at 89 the oldest senator and the Senate's last veteran of World War II, has been easily elected five times, but he has had health problems in recent years and was facing a likely challenge from charismatic Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

NEW YORK

Bloomberg targets foam containers

In his 12th and last State of the City address, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he will seek to have the City Council ban polystyrene foam, the ubiquitous, lightweight packaging colloquially known by the brand name Styrofoam. The product has long been criticized by environmentalists. He previously has waged war on smoking, large-size sugary drinks and salt.

PENNSYLVANIA

Student's lawsuit flunks court

An Allentown judge rejected the claims of a Lehigh University student suing over her C+ grade, ruling that the university neither breached contract nor sexually discriminated against Megan Thode. She sought $1.3 million in damages. Thode received a C+ in her master's fieldwork class; she needed a B or higher.

RUSSIA

Foreign minister ignores Kerry's call

Secretary of State John Kerry called all the foreign ministers of countries that deal with North Korea following Monday's nuclear test and all but one of them picked up the phone -- Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Outgoing State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland denied that Kerry was frantically trying to reach Lavrov. Lavrov has been traveling in Africa, she said.

ISRAEL

Prisoner story ignites international furor

The story of an Australian-Israeli citizen suspected of spying for Israel who was found hanged in his high-security isolation cell in an Israeli jail in 2010 has created a firestorm of controversy in both countries. Australian security officials suspect that Ben Zygier, 34, may have been about to disclose information about Israeli intelligence operations. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to quash the story on national security grounds.

EGYPT

Islamists have no love for Valentine's Day

Two Islamist parties expressed objections to Valentine's Day, saying it has nothing to do with religion, the state-run Ahram Gate reported. The holiday is about "vice," Ahmed Badei told the Cairo news website, charging that it runs counter to the traditions of Islam and Christianity.

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