Briefs 1210


Same-sex couples tie the knot in Wash. for the first time

SEATTLE — Scores of same-sex couples crowded Seattle City Hall for a day of wedding ceremonies on Sunday, the first day they could marry after the state’s voter-approved gay marriage law took effect.

While numerous weddings were taking place across the state, both private and public, the city hall weddings were the largest public event, with about 140 couples taking part. The city set up five separate chapels to accommodate the revelers. Starting at 10 a.m., cheers and applause regularly broke out as another couple’s marriage became official. Weddings at city hall were to continue through 5 p.m.

After couples married, they exited city hall, greeted by a steady rain and by dozens of supporters who cheered them with shouts of “congratulations” and flowers as they descended a large staircase down to the street.

Mayor Mike McGinn, who greeted couples at they arrived, called it a “great day, a joyous day.”

Chavez’s cancer relapse has Venezuela on edge

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was heading back to Cuba on Sunday for a third cancer surgery after naming his vice president as his choice to lead the country if the illness cuts short his presidency.

Chavez’s announcement on Saturday night unleashed new uncertainty about the country’s future, and his supporters poured into city plazas across the nation to pray for his recovery from what appears to be an aggressive type of cancer.

He acknowledged the seriousness of his health situation in a televised address, saying for the first time that if he suffers complications Vice President Nicolas Maduro should be elected as Venezuela’s leader to continue his socialist movement.

Several outside medical experts said that based on Chavez’s account of his condition and his treatment so far, they doubt the cancer can be cured.

Clinton has strong backing for 2016 bid

WASHINGTON — Democrats overwhelmingly want Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to run for president in 2016, former Clinton adviser James Carville said Sunday.

“I don’t know what she’s going to do, but I do know this: The Democrats want her to run,” Carville, a friend of both Bill and Hillary Clinton, said on ABC’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos.”

According to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, two in three Americans said they hold a favorable impression of Clinton, while 57 percent of Americans say they would back a 2016 Clinton presidential candidacy.

Mary Matalin, a Republican strategist and Carville’s wife, rejected the notion that Clinton would instantly clear the Democratic field.

“It defies human nature to think that Democrats, even though they are redistributionist and utopians, would not be competitive,” she said.

Man pleads guilty to smuggling Cuban birds

MIAMI — A Miami man faces up to 20 years in prison for allegedly trying to smuggle birds from Cuba into the United States in his pants.

The U.S. Attorney’s office says Alberto Diaz Gonzalez, 76, pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to import undeclared wildlife from the Caribbean island. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.

Diaz’s federal public defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.

Diaz returned to Miami from Havana on Oct. 20. Court documents show he told U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials in Miami that he was not carrying any wildlife.

But authorities say when officers searched Diaz, they found 16 Cuban bullfinches hidden in his pants. They say Diaz admitted the birds were from Cuba and that he planned to sell them.

By wire sources