Liu withdraws court nomination

WASHINGTON - A liberal legal scholar is withdrawing his appeals court nomination after Senate Republicans blocked a vote last week on his confirmation.

Goodwin Liu, 40, said Wednesday in a letter to President Obama that he and his family needed "to make plans for the future" now that there was little prospect of a Senate vote on his nomination.

Obama nominated Liu, a Berkeley law professor, last year to the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Liu is seen as potentially the first Asian American Supreme Court nominee, and time as an appeals judge would have burnished his credentials.

Republicans objected to his record and to his 2006 testimony opposing the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel A. Alito Jr. - AP

House OKs ban on teaching abortions

WASHINGTON - The House voted Wednesday to ban teaching health centers from using federal money to teach doctors how to perform abortions, the latest in a series of antiabortion measures pushed by the Republican majority.

The measure's author, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R., N.C.), said she wanted to make "crystal clear that taxpayer money is not being used to train health-care providers to perform abortion procedures."

The proposal was an amendment to the latest of several GOP bills to restrict funding for the 2010 health-care law. The amendment passed, 234-182, despite objections by some Democrats that it would prevent health centers from teaching a basic medical technique that can be critical to saving a woman's life during emergencies.

The amendment and the overall bill to restrict the health-care law are both likely to die in the Senate. - AP

Guilty in 2 soldiers' slayings in Iraq

FORT STEWART, Georgia - An Army sergeant was found guilty Wednesday of two counts of premeditated murder in the 2008 slayings of his squad leader and another U.S. soldier at a patrol base in Iraq, but was spared the death penalty when the military jury's verdict was not unanimous.

Sgt. Joseph Bozicevich, 41, of Minneapolis, faces life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole. He admitted during the trial that he shot Staff Sgt. Darris Dawson, 24, of Pensacola, Fla., and Sgt. Wesley Durbin, 26, of Dallas at a patrol base outside Baghdad on Sept. 14, 2008, after they criticized him for making mistakes in an unforgiving war zone.

He testified he fired only because the two soldiers aimed rifles at his head and threatened to kill him if he didn't sign off on their reports about him. A sentencing hearing is to begin Thursday. - AP

Elsewhere:

Planned Parenthood of Indiana said it would keep serving Medicaid patients through at least June 15 after receiving more than $100,000 from donors in 46 states and several countries. Indiana recently enacted a law cutting off much of the group's public funding.

Tine Valencic, 13, of Colleyville, Texas, won the National Geographic Bee on Wednesday, correctly identifying the country that is home to the Tungurahua volcano (it's Ecuador).