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In brief

Traffic control training A soldier trains in Bela Vista, Brazil, near the border with Paraguay, Friday. The four-day training operation, called ‘Atalaia,’ focuses on traffic control and anti-smuggling operations.

AP PHOTO
SEOUL, South Korea Keeping watch on satellites

Spy satellites trained high-resolution cameras on a coastal North Korean launch pad. U.S., Japan and South Korea deployed warships with radar and other surveillance equipment in the waters near the communist nation — all for one of the most closely watched rocket launches ever.

North Korea plans to launch what it says is an experimental communications satellite — perhaps as early as Saturday — from its Musudan-ri facility in the northeastern part of the country.

Washington, Seoul and Tokyo suspect North Korea’s real motive is to test its long-range missile technology. The planned launch has sparked alarm because North Korea has admitted it has nuclear weapons and has repeatedly broken promises to shelve its nuclear program or halt rocket tests.

President Barack Obama, appearing Friday with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Strasbourg, France, called the launch “provocative” and said it should be stopped.

DES MOINES, Iowa Iowa legalizes gay marriage

Iowa’s Supreme Court legalized gay marriage Friday in a unanimous and emphatic decision that makes Iowa the third state — and first in the nation’s heartland — to allow same-sex couples to wed.

Iowa joins only Massachusetts and Connecticut in permitting same-sex marriage. For six months last year, California’s high court allowed gay marriage before voters banned it in November.

The Iowa justices upheld a lower-court ruling that rejected a state law restricting marriage to a union between a man and woman.

The county attorney who defended the law said he would not seek a rehearing. The only recourse for opponents appeared to be a constitutional amendment, which could take years to ratify.

HAVANA Caucus to improve relations

Seven members of the Congressional Black Caucus arrived in Cuba on Friday to discuss improving relations with the communist government amid speculation that Washington could ease travel restrictions to the island.

Delegation leader Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, said President Barack Obama has ushered in “a new era in our foreign policy” that could mean a thaw in ice-cold bilateral relations.

“We really hope to begin some dialogue so that members of Congress can understand some of the issues that we have to address when we get back,” she said.

NEW YORK Police up security at sites

The New York Police Department has prepared plans to beef up security at the city’s synagogues and other Jewish sites amid escalating tensions between Israel and Iran, officials confirmed Friday.

Concerns that Muslim extremist groups might retaliate against civilians in New York City’s Jewish community if Israel were to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities prompted the NYPD to put together a response plan that includes deploying extra officers, including heavily armed “Hercules Teams,” to synagogues, Jewish community centers and Israeli diplomatic offices.

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