Utah asks Supreme Court to restore ban on gay marriage
WASHINGTON — Utah’s attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday to restore a state law banning same-sex marriages by issuing an emergency stay of a lower court’s ruling that held gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.
For the high court, which has not been asked to rule on the topic since issuing two landmark rulings in June, Utah’s request could trigger a closely watched decision with nationwide implications on the future of gay marriage in the U.S.
In considering Utah’s request, justices are in effect being asked to make a quick assessment of whether gays and lesbians should have an equal right to marry under the Constitution, a question they carefully dodged in June.
—Tribune Washington Bureau
Hospital fights in court to remove brain-dead girl from ventilator
OAKLAND, Calif. — The family of a brain-dead Oakland girl has had ample time to find another facility to take over her care and she should be removed from a ventilator, attorneys for Children’s Hospital Oakland argued in a motion filed with a state appellate court on Tuesday.
The struggle over whether to keep Jahi McMath on a ventilator continued in courts Tuesday, when the 40-page motion from the hospital’s attorneys was filed to oppose attempts by the girl’s family to keep her on the breathing machine at the North Oakland hospital.
“Very sadly she’s deceased and there’s nothing anyone can do to change that status,” hospital spokesman Sam Singer said.
Last 3 Uighurs leave Guantanamo
The Obama administration sent three ethnic Uighur Muslim captives from Guantanamo to Slovakia, the Defense Department said Tuesday, ending one of the saddest and longest-running chapters of unlawful detention at the U.S. prison camps in Cuba.
Yusef Abbas, 38, Hajiakbar Abdulghuper, 39, and Saidullah Khalik, 36, left the remote U.S. Navy base in a secret operation on Monday, according to U.S. government sources. They had spent about a dozen years in U.S. military custody.
Their transfer reduced the prison camp population to 155 captives, 11 fewer than when the year started. It was the government’s latest incremental step toward reaching President Barack Obama’s mandate to close the detention center.
—The Miami Herald
Antonio Augusto Villareal, former Cuban political prisoner, dies at 63
MIAMI— Cuban dissident Antonio Augusto Villarreal Acosta, who began suffering from psychiatric problems during his seven years in island prisons, has died in Miami. He was 63.
Miami police said they found Villareal’s body Saturday in his Little Havana apartment but declined to comment on the cause of death.
Villarreal was one of the 75 democracy activists swept up in a harsh crackdown in 2003 known as Cuba’s Black Spring. He was freed in 2010 and went directly from prison to Havana’s airport for a flight to exile in Spain. He moved to Miami months later.
—El Nuevo Herald
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South Sudan rivals agree to peace talks
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — Rebel and government forces in South Sudan have agreed to begin peace talks, mediators said Tuesday.
The violence in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation, flared two weeks ago between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar, whom Kiir sacked in July.
Fighting has spread to six out of 10 states, killing hundreds and displacing some 120,000 others.
The Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African regional organization, said that the two sides have appointed representatives to negotiate a cessation to hostilities but did not give a timetable.
Schumacher’s condition better after operation but still critical
GRENOBLE, France — Michael Schumacher's condition has slightly improved but remains critical after he underwent another operation overnight to further reduce pressure on his brain, doctors said Tuesday.
"He is in a critical condition but it is not the same as yesterday," Jean-Francois Payen, head of the intensive care unit at Grenoble's university hospital, where the Formula One champion is being treated over injuries sustained in a ski accident, told a news conference.
"The situation is better controlled than yesterday. We can't say he's out of danger, but we now have a bit more time."
Payen said "the hours to come are crucial for the outcome" and that Schumacher will remain in an induced coma as long as necessary.
Russia’s Putin vows ‘destruction’ of terrorists as Olympics near
Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed in his New Year’s address to fight terrorists “until their total destruction,” his first public comment on twin suicide bombings in Volgograd this week that killed 34 and stirred fears for the safety of athletes and visitors at the Olympic Winter Games.
Putin traditionally gives his annual New Year’s speech from the Kremlin, but this year traveled to the Far East city of Khabarovsk to share the holiday with victims of massive flooding that hit the region in August and September.
He asked Russians to bow their heads in memory of both flood and bombing victims and declared he was “confident that we will continue to fight against terrorists until their total destruction.”
—Los Angeles Times
Israeli right simmers over reports of US framework for peace
JERUSALEM — Ahead of another visit by Secretary of State John F. Kerry, reports that he plans to present a framework for peace to Israeli and Palestinian leaders are causing growing unrest among Israeli opponents of a two-state solution.
Vandals on Tuesday torched cars and property in the Palestinian village of Jilazoun, spray-painting walls with messages warning that “much blood will be spilled” over Judea and Samaria, the biblical term for the West Bank. The perpetrators, suspected to be Jewish extremists, left another message: “Regards to John Kerry.”
—Los Angeles Times
Iraqi premier says army to leave Anbar cities after crackdown
BAGHDAD — Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Tuesday that the army will leave cities in the western province of Anbar, after security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in the provincial capital Ramadi.
Al-Maliki called on "the armed forces to devote themselves to continue operations pursuing al-Qaida hideouts in the desert of Anbar."
He said the military would "turn over the administration of the cities to the local and federal police," according to a statement from his office.
Distributed by MCT Information Services