By Jonathan Stempel NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Thursday upheld New Jersey's ban on counseling intended to change the sexual orientation of gay and lesbian children. Circuit Court of Appeals said the ban, which Republican Governor Chris Christie signed into law in August 2013, did not violate the free speech or religious rights of counselors offering "gay conversion therapy" to convert homosexual minors into heterosexuals. The panel also said the plaintiffs, who included licensed therapists and a Christian counseling group, lacked standing to pursue claims on behalf of their minor clients. Circuit Judge D. Brooks Smith said the ban, the second in the country after California's, appropriately advanced New Jersey's legitimate interest in protecting people under the age of 18 from harmful or ineffective professional treatment.
South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell suspended himself from the state legislature on Thursday, a day after he was indicted on nine criminal charges related to misuse of campaign money and misconduct in office. Harrell, a Republican, said in a letter that he was taking the step proactively and, according to House rules, had asked the speaker pro tempore to take charge of the legislative body. ...
Twenty-eight preschoolers and two adults mistakenly drank bleach at snack time at a New Jersey day care center on Thursday and were taken to a hospital after some complained their stomachs were burning. The children, aged 3 and 4, and adult staff members of the Growing Tree Learning Center in downtown Jersey City were transported in five ambulances to the Jersey City Medical Center after a late-morning call to 911, said Mark Rabson, a hospital spokesman. "There was a poisoning and many children were injured," he said, adding the children were walking on their own or were being carried out by their parents and "have smiles on their faces." Keith Kearney, executive director of United Cerebral Palsy of Hudson County, which runs the day care center that is open to all community members and serves 65 children from infants to age 4, said he had heard no reports of injuries and that the hospital visits were a precaution.
Warmer air triggered the collapse of a huge ice shelf off Antarctica in 2002, according to a report on Thursday that may help scientists predict future break-ups around the frozen continent. Antarctica is a key to sea level rise, which threatens coastal areas around the world.. It has enough ice to raise seas by 57 meters (190 feet) if it ever all melted, meaning that even a tiny thaw at the fringes is a concern. Until now, the exact cause of the collapse of the Larsen-B ice shelf, a floating mass of ice bigger than Luxembourg at the end of glaciers in the Antarctic Peninsula, had been unknown.
By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - A pharmacist who worked for the Massachusetts company that sparked a 2012 U.S. Glenn Adam Chin, 46, said in U.S. District Court in Boston that he was "not guilty" of charges he knowingly shipped a tainted steroid that sickened 700 people in 20 states. He has been confined to his Canton, Massachusetts, home since officials pulled him off a plane last week at the start of what was to be a family trip to Hong Kong for a wedding.
Cameroon's claims this week that two Tuareg fighters were among the dead when troops bombarded Boko Haram positions have sparked fresh interest in the group's links to the wider jihadi network. Boko Haram was designated an Al-Qaeda-linked terror group earlier this year while its recent land grab in Nigeria's northeast has prompted comparisons to Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq. Andrew Noakes, co-ordinator of the Nigeria Security Network of analysts, said it was "plausible" that Boko Haram had fighters from beyond the lands populated by its Kanuri tribal base. "There is most likely a relationship of convenience between Boko Haram and AQIM (Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb), which may stretch to sourcing militants from outside the insurgency's traditional area of recruitment," he told AFP by email.