Hawaii governor takes on 'birthers'

HONOLULU - Frustrated by what he sees as a never-ending campaign to undermine President Obama, Hawaii's new governor says he plans to use his post to counter conspiracy theorists who continue to allege that the president was not born in the United States.

Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat who took office Dec. 6, has known Obama since the president was growing up in Honolulu. He is also one of the few people who knew both Obama's father, Barack Sr., and his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham.

That long-standing relationship is a major reason why Abercrombie, 72, takes umbrage with the persistent effort by Obama's most ardent foes to assert that Obama was born in Kenya. "Now that I'm governor, I'm going to do something about that," Abercrombie vowed, though he acknowledged he had not yet determined a specific remedy.

Obama was born at Kapi'olani Maternity and Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961. Abercrombie said, "Maybe I'm the only one in the country that could look you right in the eye right now and tell you, 'I was here when that baby was born.' " - Los Angeles Times

Museum to return stolen art item

TOLEDO, Ohio - A museum is returning to Germany an 18th-century porcelain centerpiece believed to have been stolen from a castle where it was hidden by a museum during World War II.

The Toledo Museum of Art and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Nereid Sweetmeat Stand would go back to the Dresden Museum. Customs officials said the family of the former prime minister of Saxony, which owned the piece, gave it to the German museum in 1920 on permanent loan.

It depicts a mermaid holding a shell and was part of a 2,200-piece dinner set commissioned in 1737. The Toledo museum bought the item in 1956 from a New York gallery.

Toledo museum spokeswoman Kelly Garrow told the Toledo Blade that the piece was purchased for less than $10,000. The museum estimates its current value at $300,000; customs officials value it at more than $1 million. - AP

For pregnant vets, mental-health risk

LOS ANGELES - Female veterans who become pregnant may be at more risk for mental-health disorders, a study found.

Researchers looked at data on 43,078 women who were veterans of the Afghanistan or Iraq wars and were treated at the Veterans Health Administration for five years. Among the participants, 32 percent of women who were pregnant had a mental-health diagnosis, while 21 percent of women who were not pregnant got that diagnosis.

Pregnant vets were more apt to be diagnosed with major or mild depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia, and alcohol or drug abuse or dependence during the study.

The study was published recently in the Journal of Women's Health. - L.A. Times

Elsewhere:

The Muslim cleric who hopes to build an Islamic center in New York City near the World Trade Center site is planning to tour the nation to promote the project. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf will first speak Jan. 15 in Detroit, which has North America's largest Muslim population.