Violence Against Women Act — The House gave final approval to a renewal of the Violence Against Women Act on Thursday, sending a bipartisan Senate measure to President Barack Obama after a House plan endorsed by conservatives was defeated. The legislation passed on a vote of 286-138, with 199 Democrats joining 87 Republicans in support of the reauthorization of the landmark 1994 law, which assists victims of domestic and sexual violence. It amounted to a significant victory for the president and congressional Democrats who have assailed Republicans for months for stalling the legislation. The successful measure passed the Senate last month with 78 votes — including those of every woman, all Democrats and just over half of Republicans.
Aid to Syrian rebels — Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday announced the first direct U.S. aid to Syrian opposition fighters, but the more than $60 million package will not include the arms or high-tech gear the rebels have long coveted. Kerry, on his first trip abroad as chief U.S. diplomat, said the United States would supply food rations and medical supplies to the military wing of the opposition and $60 million to its political arm to help provide basic government services in the areas controlled by forces opposed to President Bashar Assad.
Mississippi killing — A 22-year-old man was charged with murder Thursday in the death of an openly gay mayoral candidate, whose body was found near a river levee in the Mississippi Delta this week. The Coahoma County Sheriff's Department said in a news release that Lawrence Reed, of Shelby, was charged in the death of Marco McMillian, 34, a candidate for mayor of Clarksdale. McMillian's body was found Wednesday. A spokesman for the Mississippi Department of Public Safety said no cause of death would be released until the medical examiner's report was completed.
Dispute over islands — China accused Japan on Thursday of escalating maritime tensions that have dogged their relationship by harassing Chinese ships, continuing a succession of tit-for-tat accusations that reflect increasing distrust between the two countries. A spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, Geng Yansheng, made the accusations on the same day that the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, likened recent intrusions by Chinese ships into Japanese-controlled waters near contested islands to Argentina's 1982 invasion of the Falkland Islands, which set off a brief war with Britain.
South Africa dragging death — Police face possible murder charges in South Africa for allegedly handcuffing a man to a van and dragging him along a road, after the popular tabloid the Daily Sun posted a video of the incident online. Commuter mini-bus driver Mido Macia allegedly was accosted by several officers Tuesday evening after blocking traffic with his white Toyota Avanza minivan. The video footage showed the 27-year-old Mozambican resisting the police as they muscled him toward the police van, while a crowd of people watched and shouted. The video shows Macia being handcuffed by police to the van with his hands above his head before an officer drives the van away, dragging him along the road until the vehicle is out of sight.
Vegas Strip shooting — A self-described pimp was arrested Thursday in Los Angeles, ending a manhunt that began after a vehicle-to-vehicle shooting and spectacular, fiery crash that killed three people on the Las Vegas Strip a week ago, police said. Ammar Harris, 26, surrendered to a team of police and federal agents who found him inside a North Hollywood apartment after a woman answered the door, authorities said. Court documents allege Harris was driving his black Range Rover SUV when he fired into a Maserati sports car, killing self-promoted rapper Kenneth Wayne Cherry Jr. The Maserati with Cherry mortally wounded at the wheel sped forward and slammed into a taxi that burst into flames. The cabbie, 62-year-old Michael Boldon, and his passenger, 48-year-old Sandra Sutton-Wasmund, of Maple Valley, Wash., were killed.
Missing woman — A missing Minnesota woman's husband was charged Thursday with murder, after investigators found blood on the floor, furniture, walls and stairs of the couple's home as well as evidence of an extensive effort to cover it up. Authorities said they have not found 30-year-old Kira Trevino's body, but they believe she's dead because of the amount of blood found in her car and in the couple's St. Paul home. Jeffery Dale Trevino, 39, made an initial court appearance Thursday on two counts of second-degree murder in his wife's death, which investigators believe happened last Thursday or Friday. Bail was set at $1 million. Trevino's attorney, John Conard, said he believes his client is innocent and that Trevino has no idea where his wife is.