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Dec. 14, 2012 at 10:31 PM   |   Comments

28 dead after Connecticut massacre

NEWTOWN, Conn., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Adam Lanza killed his mother Friday, then went to the Newtown, Conn., grade school where she taught and killed 26 people, 20 of them children, police said.

A law enforcement official said the 20-year-old gunman took his own life after he inflicted the horrible carnage at Sandy Hook Elementary School, The New York Times reported.

"Evil visited this community today," Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said. "We are all in this together."

Another adult was wounded in the shooting spree at the school. Police found the body of his mother, Nancy Lanza, shot dead at the residence in town that they were believed to have shared.

Residents of the shattered community of about 27,500 people and the surrounding region gathered for a vigil Friday night to pray and support the grieving families, the Hartford (Conn.) Courant reported.

"We might not be able to make sense of this today or tomorrow, but it's not impossible for us to come together to show our children that we love them," Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said.

Lanza, described variously as dressed in black or combat gear, used two handguns, a Sig Sauer and a Glock, the Times said. Police also found a Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine rifle at the scene that they believed he had brought along, the newspaper said.

A motive, however, had not been determined, the Courant said.


Pope: Same-sex marriage threat to justice

VATICAN CITY, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Endorsing same-sex marriage is an "offense against the truth of the human person," Pope Benedict XVI said Friday in a Vatican message.

The pope's statement was tied to World Day of Peace, which is celebrated Jan. 1, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

Benedict said the Roman Catholic position on same-sex marriage is based not on church teaching but on the principles of natural law, "inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity."

He said that makes the church's opposition more important.

"Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offense against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace," Benedict said.

The pope's message was titled "Blessed are the peacemakers," a phrase from Jesus Christ's Sermon on the Mount.


Ill. legislature may vote on gay marriage

SPRINGFIELD, Ill., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- The Illinois legislature could legalize same-sex marriage in the state during its lame-duck session, two lawmakers say.

State Sen. Heather Steans, D-Chicago, and Rep. Greg Harris, D-Chicago, said Thursday they plan to introduce a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage and ensure religious groups aren't forced to perform gay weddings, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Steans and Harris said they are "within striking distance" of majority support in the Assembly, although they refused to say how many representatives are committed to their side.

"Public sentiment is moving fast on this," Steans said, pointing to support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. President Barack Obama. "It's just a wave now."

With referendums in November that legalized gay marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington state, same-sex couples can marry in nine states and the District of Columbia. In six states, gay marriage became legal through court decisions, starting with Massachusetts in 2004, or through legislative action.

Quinn has said he would sign an Illinois bill. The state recognized civil unions for same-sex couples last year.


Palestinians clash with Israeli forces

RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Angry Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails Friday at Israeli soldiers on the West Bank.

The clashes occurred during rallies to mark the 25th anniversary of Hamas, the Israeli news website Ynetnews reported.

In Hebron, a major Palestinian commercial center 19 miles south of Jerusalem, thousands of people marched to the city hall after Friday prayers. In the city's Palestinian section, protesters threw stones at Israeli soldiers patrolling the neighborhood.

Hebron has been tense since a young Palestinian was shot and killed Wednesday. He was threatening soldiers with what turned out to be a toy gun.

Protests were held in 10 other places in the West Bank. No injuries were reported, but at least three military vehicles were damaged.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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