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AROUND THE NATION

New law bans abortion based on race, gender

PHOENIX (AP) -- Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has signed what is likely the first legislation in the nation to ban abortions based on race or gender.

The law makes it a Class 3 felony to knowingly perform or provide financing for an abortion sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or a parent's race. The maximum punishment if convicted is 3 1/2 years in prison.

Supporters said the measure is an important statement against discrimination and for life.

When the bill was being debated, supporters said they wanted Arizona to prevent discrimination-based abortions, and they disagreed with opponents over whether there is evidence that race- and sex selection-based abortions are actually occurring in Arizona.

Planned Parenthood of Arizona said it strongly condemns Brewer's decision.

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First spacecraft to orbit Mercury finds craters

LAUREL, Md. (AP) -- Think the moon has many craters?

New photos from the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury show the tiny inner planet has far more impressive battle scars from regular high-speed peltings by space rocks.

NASA's Messenger spacecraft, which began orbiting the planet less than two weeks ago, reveals a pockmarked planet full of craters from pieces of asteroids and comets.

"Mercury has had an exposed surface for at least 3.5 to 4 billion years, and some of those surfaces are extremely cratered to the point where there are so many craters they start to obscure one another," said mission chief scientist Sean Solomon.

Mercury is also darker and appears more weather-beaten than the moon, because of "the constant bombardment of the surface by dust particles and small meteoroids," Solomon said.

Messenger has been circling Mercury, which is about 36 million miles from the sun, since March 17. In its first day of photo transmission, the space probe sent back 224 pictures, Solomon said. By the end of this week, NASA will have received more than 15,000 pictures.

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Town official held in rape, kidnapping

CONCORD, N.H. -- The New York woman posted a Craigslist ad seeking housing, saying she was looking to make a "fresh start" in New England.

What she found instead, police say, was a New Hampshire town official who held her captive in his home for three days and raped her.

Salem Planning Board member Jeffrey Gray was arraigned Wednesday on rape, kidnapping, false imprisonment and assault charges. He was being held on bond.

Gray, 48, has a record of arrests for criminal threatening and criminal mischief and a history of restraining orders linked to domestic abuse, police said.

The 34-year-old woman went to Gray's rented Windham home voluntarily on March 5 but was not allowed to leave until days later, when Gray drove her to Logan International Airport in Boston, police said. Instead of boarding a plane, she told a Massachusetts state trooper about her ordeal, authorities said.

The woman was treated for minor injuries and released from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston on March 9.

Gray is a self-employed civil engineer who was elected to the Planning Board a year ago.

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