Nation and world news in brief, Friday, Feb. 16, 2024

Supporters of same-sex marriage bill take part in a rally Thursday at central Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece. (AP Photo/Michael Varaklas)

Greece legalizes same-sex civil marriage

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece has become the first Orthodox Christian country to legalize same-sex civil marriage, despite opposition from Church officials. A cross-party majority of 176 lawmakers in the 300-seat parliament voted late Thursday in favor of the bill drafted by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ center-right government. Another 76 rejected the reform while two abstained from the vote and 46 were not present in the house. The new law recognizes parental rights for same-sex couples, but will not allow gay men to acquire biological children through surrogate mothers in Greece.


Israeli forces storm main hospital in southern Gaza

RAFAH, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israeli forces stormed the main hospital in southern Gaza on Thursday, hours after Israeli fire killed a patient and wounded six others inside the complex. The Israeli army said it was seeking the remains of hostages taken by Hamas.

The raid on Nasser Hospital came after troops had besieged the facility for nearly a week, with hundreds of staff, patients and others inside struggling under heavy fire and dwindling supplies, including food and water. A day earlier, the army ordered thousands of displaced people who had taken shelter there to leave the hospital in the city of Khan Younis, the focus of Israel’s offensive against Hamas in recent weeks.

The war shows no sign of ending, and the risk of a broader conflict grew as Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group stepped up attacks after a particularly deadly exchange on Wednesday.

US lunar lander rockets toward the moon

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Another private U.S. company took a shot at the moon Thursday, launching a month after a rival’s lunar lander missed its mark and came crashing back.

NASA, the main sponsor with experiments on board, is hoping for a successful moon landing next week as it seeks to jumpstart the lunar economy ahead of astronaut missions.

SpaceX’s Falcon rocket blasted off in the middle of the night from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, dispatching Intuitive Machines’ lunar lander on its way to the moon, 230,000 miles (370,000 kilometers) away.

The lander resembled a stunning six-pointed star jewel — each point a leg — as it successfully separated from the upper stage and drifted off into the black void with the blue Earth far below.

If all goes well, a touchdown attempt would occur Feb. 22, after a day in lunar orbit. Only five countries — the U.S., Russia, China, India and Japan — have scored a lunar landing and no private business has yet done so. The U.S. has not returned to the moon’s surface since the Apollo program ended more than five decades ago.

6 killed by missile strike in Russian city of Belgorod

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Officials say a missile strike on the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border has killed six people, including a child, and injured 18 others, in what appears to be the latest exchange of long-range missile and rocket fire between the two countries.

Hours earlier, Russia fired cruise and ballistic missiles at a broad area of Ukraine, hitting multiple regions after a midnight strike in Ukraine’s northeast killed four people in an apartment building. Russian officials say five of the 18 people injured in Belgorod were children and a shopping center and a school stadium were hit in the attack. Russia’s Ministry of Defense says air defense systems destroyed 14 missiles over the Belgorod region that were launched by Ukraine.

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