International / National / News / February 2, 2011

News Briefs: Jan. 27-Feb. 2

CHICAGO—Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill on Tuesday recognizing civil unions for same-sex partners. The new law will guarantee same-sex couples the same rights afforded to heterosexual couples. Heterosexual couples are also able to join in civil union without entering into a marriage contract. Among other things, a civil union will allow partners to visit one another in the hospital and make end-of-life decisions for one another, as well as prevent them from having to testify against one another in a courtroom. It will also expand employment benefits such as insurance to cover a partner. (

CAIRO—Riots in Egypt’s capital have turned violent as crowds opposing President Hosni Mubarak clashed with Mubarak supporters. Many Mubarak supporters, whom the opposition claims were hired by the government, attacked with clubs and whips; both sides threw ce

ment and rocks at each other. In an effort to control the protests, the government shut down the internet but restored it early on Wednesday. Anti-Mubarak protestors are calling for Mubarak to step down immediately, rather than wait eight months until after elections are held as the president has promised to do. (

PUNXSUTAWNEY, PA—Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog whom legend says can predict the arrival of spring, emerged from his hole on Wednesday morning and saw his shadow, indicating that spring will be arriving early this year. This is Phil’s 125th prediction. (

SWITZERLAND—Although problems with debt in several European countries have led to questions about the viability of the euro, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to maintain the currency. Sarkozy argued that the euro, which is the currency used by many countries in the European Union, had to be maintained to prevent a larger economic cri

sis. The remarks came during the World Economic Forum, held in Davos, Switzerland. Sarkozy also warned that imbalances between the euro, the U.S. dollar and China’s currency would lead to major future financial disruptions. (

GULF OF MEXICO—According to a new report released by Kenneth R. Feinberg, who administers the BP oil spill compensation fund, the Gulf of Mexico will be able to recover from any environmental damage faster than was previously anticipated. The report will likely affect the amount of compensation received by victims of the spill, as longer-lasting damage would have resulted in higher payments. The report suggests that the gulf should be back to normal (excluding oyster beds) by 2012, and that 2011 catches will be equivalent to pre-spill rates. Lawyers of the plaintiffs have filed complaints that Feinberg is not actually independent from BP. Already, 85,000 people have reached a settlement from the $20 billion fund. (

Katy Sutcliffe

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