LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The Arkansas Supreme Court refused Wednesday to put on hold a ruling that overturned the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, but the short-lived ability for same-sex couples to wed in the state still came to a halt amid confusion about what comes next.
The justices in their decision offered no direction to the state’s county clerks, some of whom had raised concerns about a conflicting state law.
Last Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza threw out a 10-year-old ban that voters placed in the state constitution and a separate state law barring same-sex marriages. But he didn’t rule on a third law that threatens fines against clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Wildfires destroy 3 homes in Southern California
Flames engulfed suburban homes and shot up along canyon ridges in the worst of a half-dozen blazes that broke out Wednesday in Southern California during a second day of a sweltering heat wave, destroying three homes and damaging a dozen others.
Thick black smoke darkened blue skies over the Pacific coast city of Carlsbad, about 30 miles north of San Diego.
Thousands were asked to evacuate their homes – including in Carlsbad – after the blaze erupted at 10:34 a.m. Wednesday and spread through rapidly heavy brush before jumping into residential areas.
‘Miracle baby’ survives fall from 11-story building
A young boy who survived an 11-story fall from a Minneapolis high-rise has been dubbed the miracle baby and was recovering in a hospital Wednesday.
Fifteen-month-old Musa Dayib suffered a broken spine and ribs as well as a concussion and a punctured lung. Musa’s relatives believe he slipped through the railing of his family’s apartment balcony Sunday evening.
Obama implores Congress to OK transportion funds
President Barack Obama on Wednesday called on Congress to act swiftly to approve billions of dollars in funding for the nation’s aging roads, bridges and rail systems, warning that a failure to do so may cost the economy 700,000 jobs.
Obama said no sector suffered more in the recession than the construction industry, arguing that new public works projects would help put many back to work and attract businesses deciding whether to locate in the United States or overseas.
Pentagon seeks to transfer document leaker Manning
The Pentagon is trying to transfer convicted national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where she can get treatment for a gender-identity condition. But her lawyer said Wednesday that a move from a military prison would make Manning choose between the treatment and her safety.
Two Pentagon officials told The AP that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave the Army approval last month to try to work out a plan to transfer Manning from Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, to a federal prison.
Manning, formerly known as Bradley, has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man’s body. Civilian prisons can provide treatment, but the Defense Department does not, and a transfer would allow her to see whether she wants to complete the transformation to being a woman.
Washington Monument elevator malfunctions
Two days after the gala reopening of the Washington Monument, its elevator malfunctioned twice Wednesday, briefly stranding passengers and forcing one group of visitors to walk down the 896 steps from the observation level.
The glitches came two days after the earthquake-damaged 555-foot-tall national landmark reopened following a $15 million repair job that took 32 months and had the stone obelisk closed to visitors.
New York Times names new executive editor
The New York Times on Wednesday announced that executive editor Jill Abramson is being replaced by managing editor Dean Baquet after 2 1/2 years on the job.
The company didn’t give a reason for the change.
Kentucky fights federal holdup on hemp seeds
Kentucky’s Agriculture Department sued the federal government Wednesday, seeking the release of imported hemp seeds that have been held up by customs officials.
The state said it needs to get the seeds in the ground for the spring season.
Hemp production was banned decades ago when the federal government classified the crop as a controlled substance related to marijuana. Hemp and marijuana are the same species, but hemp has a negligible amount of the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high.
The Kentucky Agriculture Department wants to use the seeds in pilot projects to study hemp’s potential in a state where it once flourished as a cash crop. Hemp was historically used for rope but can also be fashioned into clothing, food such as hemp milk and cooking oil from the seeds, and creams, soap and lotions.
2 people killed during protests in Thailand
Explosions and an overnight shooting attack on anti-government demonstrators in Thailand’s capital killed at least two people early today, authorities said, the latest political violence to hit Bangkok over the last six months.
The city’s Erawan Medical Center, which tracks casualties, said 22 people were also wounded in the assault before dawn near the city’s Democracy Monument, where protesters are camping out.
The casualties bring the toll in political violence since protests began to oust the government in November to 27 dead and 800 wounded.
Pistorius will undergo psychiatric evlauation
Oscar Pistorius will undergo psychiatric evaluation after the judge ruled at his murder trial Wednesday that his state of mind when he killed his girlfriend should be assessed by experts, possibly delaying court proceedings for two months.
The ruling was prompted by testimony by a psychiatrist on behalf of the defense that the double-amputee Olympic athlete has generalized anxiety disorder and that this may have influenced his judgment when he fatally shot Reeva Steenkamp through a toilet door in his home on Feb. 14, 2013.
The chief prosecutor, Gerrie Nel, then requested psychiatric testing. Judge Thokozile Masipa agreed with the prosecutor, saying it was important to independently assess Pistorius’ state of mind because the defense might now argue that he was not criminally responsible for the shooting because of his anxiety disorder.