By Jon Herskovitz AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas county issued a marriage license to a same-sex couple on Thursday, the first legal certification for a gay couple in the state since its voters about a decade ago approved a measure defining marriage as only being between a man and a woman. A Travis County clerk said the marriage license was given to just one couple, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, after a court order earlier in the day and the county, home to the state capital Austin, is not planning to issue more licenses to same-sex couples. Legal experts said there was at least one case of a marriage between a same-sex couple in the early 1970s and none since the voter-approved constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage went into effect. A U.S. district judge in Texas last year ruled the state's bans on gay marriage unconstitutional because it denied the couples equal protection under the law.
A grand jury indicted Sheldon Silver, the former New York State Assembly speaker and one of the most powerful state politicians for two decades, on federal corruption charges on Thursday, federal prosecutors said. Silver, who has resigned as speaker but remains the assemblyman for Manhattan's Lower East Side, was indicted on two counts of "honest services mail fraud" and one count of using his office for extortion. Silver's lawyers said in a statement on Thursday that he is not guilty. Silver was originally charged with five counts relating to bribery and kickback schemes on Jan. 22 and it was not immediately clear why two of the counts appear to have been dropped.
By Mary Wisniewski CHICAGO (Reuters) - Bone-chilling cold in the U.S. Midwest shattered records in Chicago on Thursday, closing schools and starting its trudge eastward to an already frozen Boston and New York. Arctic air was expected to keep its grip on the nation's midsection on Friday morning, a day after the minus 8 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 22 Celsius) measured in Chicago broke the low temperature record of minus 7 degrees for the day set in 1936, said National Weather Service meteorologist Bob Oravec. The wind chill made temperatures in Chicago feel like minus 25, he said. Chicago public schools, serving 396,000 students in the third largest U.S. school district, canceled classes on Thursday and many commuters there were bundled so heavily that only their eyes could be seen.
By Scott Malone BOSTON (Reuters) - Attorneys for the accused Boston Marathon bomber on Thursday will make their case to a three-judge appellate panel to move his trial out of the city that was the site of the largest mass-casualty attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's lawyers for months have been trying to have the trial moved out of Boston, arguing that too many residents of the area were directly affected by the April 15, 2013, attack and by the massive manhunt four days later to allow for an impartial jury to be seated.
People in the small Texas town where “American Sniper” Chris Kyle and his best friend were slain want justice, but say celebrity murder cases are meant for Hollywood, not rural hideaways. “It's different than normal life in Stephenville,” longtime resident Chick Elms said of the trial now in its second week.
In the last year or so, Barack Obama’s team has deployed the presidential summit as a central response to just about every topic of national significance. At this late stage of Obama’s presidency, the idea seems to be that talking about a policy — or at least being seen talking about it — is a kind of policy in itself.
The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to sue the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over allegations of racially discriminatory practices unless the police force agrees to make changes, CNN reported on Wednesday. The network, citing sources, said the Justice Department would not charge the white Ferguson police officer involved in the fatal shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown last August but was expected to outline allegations of discriminatory Ferguson police tactics. The department would file suit if Ferguson police did not agree to review and change those tactics, CNN reported. The shooting of Brown last August by officer Darren Wilson led to months of sometimes violent protests in Ferguson and galvanized critics of the treatment by police and the U.S. criminal justice system of blacks and other minority groups.
By Dan Whitcomb and Alex Dobuzinskis LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Public health officials said on Wednesday that six more cases of measles had been confirmed in California, bringing to 119 the total number of people infected by a strain of the virus that has also been linked to a large outbreak in the Philippines. More than 150 people across the United States have been diagnosed with measles, many of them linked to the wave of illness that authorities believe began when an infected person from out of the country visited Disneyland in late December. California Department of Public Health researchers, in a report to federal officials released on Friday, said that specimens from 30 of the state's measles patients had been genotyped and that all were of the same strain that has caused an outbreak in the Philippines.