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Briefs

Officer’s firing re-examined

– The hunt in the snowy mountains for a former Los Angeles police officer suspected in three killings continued Saturday as police announced they will reopen the disciplinary proceedings that led to the fugitive’s firing.

Officials will particularly re-examine Christopher Dorner’s allegations that his law enforcement career was undone by racist colleagues, Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck told KCBS-TV. He also urged Dorner to surrender.

“If he was to give himself up, we’d be happy to hear what he has to say,” Beck said.

Authorities suspect Dorner in a series of attacks in Southern California over the past several days that left three people dead, including a police officer. Authorities say he has vowed revenge against several former LAPD colleagues whom he blamed for ending his career.

A scaled-back search party took advantage of a break from stormy weather to hunt for Dorner in the San Bernardino mountains using heat-sensing helicopters.

Nation

Curiosity drills into rock, gathers dust

In a Mars first, the Curiosity rover drilled into a rock and prepared to dump an aspirin-sized pinch of powder into its onboard laboratories for closer inspection.

The feat marked yet another milestone for the car-size rover, which landed last summer to much fanfare on an ambitious hunt to determine whether environmental conditions were favorable for microbes.

Mother convicted of prostituting girls

A mother convicted of prostituting her 7- and 14-year-old daughters using online ads across south-central Nebraska has received up to 60 more years in prison in her last round of sentencing.

The 36-year-old woman was sentenced Thursday for nine charges in Franklin relating to the prostitution of the girls, the Kearney Hub reported.

The woman already had been sentenced to several decades in prison for similar charges in other counties. The Associated Press is not using the woman’s name to protect the identity of the girls.

World

Troops, rebels fight for Damascus road

Syrian troops backed by warplanes battled rebels for control of a key highway in Damascus on Saturday, a day after opposition forces cut the strategic artery as part of what they say are efforts to lay the groundwork for an eventual assault on the heavily defended capital.

Rebels have been on the offensive in Damascus since launching a series of attacks on government positions Wednesday. They brought their fight to within a mile of the heart of the capital on Friday, seizing army checkpoints and cutting a key highway as they pressed their campaign for the city, the seat of President Bashar Assad’s power.

Jihadists putting up fight in Malian city

Malian soldiers are fighting jihadists in their desert hideouts just outside Gao, the country’s defense minister said Saturday, a day after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint on the city’s outskirts.

Defense Minister Yamoussa Camara said at least two militants were killed during the fighting that took place Saturday several miles outside northern Mali’s largest town.

While Friday’s attack killed only the bomber, it has raised concerns about the future strategy of the militants, who initially appeared to put up little resistance to the French and Malian military advance.

German official 2nd to lose doctorate

Germany’s education minister resigned Saturday after a university withdrew her doctorate, finding that she plagiarized parts of her thesis – an embarrassment for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government as it prepares for elections later this year.

Merkel said she had accepted “only with a very heavy heart” the resignation of Annette Schavan, who has been her education and research minister since 2005 and was considered close to the chancellor.

Schavan denied the finding and said she was resigning to spare her political party while she mounts a legal fight.

Two years ago, Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg lost his doctorate and quit when it emerged that he copied large parts of his doctoral thesis.

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