By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide whether states can ban gay marriage, delving into a contentious social issue in what will be one of the most anticipated rulings of the year. The court, in a brief order, said it would hear cases concerning marriage restrictions in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee. The ruling, due by the end of June, will determine whether 14 remaining state bans will be struck down. The plaintiffs include two nurses from Michigan, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, and Louisville, Kentucky couple Timothy Love and Lawrence Ysunza, who have been in a relationship for 33 years.
By Ginny McCabe CINCINNATI (Reuters) - A U.S. judge ruled on Friday that an Ohio man charged with plotting to attack the U.S. Capitol with guns and bombs be held without bail after prosecutors said he posed a threat to national security. Christopher Cornell, 20, of Cincinnati, was arrested on Wednesday. U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephanie Bowman granted their request to deny bail in a hearing that lasted less than 15 minutes.
Prominent Obama administration official Stephen Rapp, the ambassador-at-large in charge of the State Department’s Office of Global Criminal Justice, who has spoken out against “atrocities” by the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad, confirmed today he is resigning his post in the next few months after a “frustrating” experience trying to hold that government accountable for its actions.
WASHINGTON (AP) — In a show of trans-Atlantic unity, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged a joint effort on Friday to fight domestic terrorism following deadly attacks in France. They also strongly urged the U.S. Congress to hold off on implementing new sanctions on Iran in the midst of nuclear talks.
By David Morgan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration official who oversaw the botched rollout of the Obamacare website, Healthcare.gov, announced on Friday she will resign as head of the agency that also manages the Medicare and Medicaid healthcare programs. "It is with sadness and mixed emotions that I write to tell you that February will be my last month," Marilyn Tavenner, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), said in an email to staff. A former nurse and hospital chain executive, Tavenner, 63, joined CMS in February 2010, a month before President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. An administration official said Tavenner was leaving "at the right time" after her agency had hired capable new officials in leadership positions.
By Robert Galbraith and Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO _ (Reuters) - Activists protesting police shootings of young black men staged demonstrations at three San Francisco rail stations on Friday, forcing officials to divert trains and sending morning commuters miles out of their way. No injuries were reported, and two people were arrested on misdemeanor charges of interfering with the operation of a rail system, Bay Area Rapid Transit police spokesman Jim Allison said. The protests, dubbed "BART Friday: No Business as Usual," targeted a commuter rail system that serves more than 400,000 riders a day in San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley and surrounding suburbs.
A U.S. woman who is being tried in Indonesia for the murder of her mother on the resort island of Bali has filed a lawsuit seeking money from a trust in her alleged victim's name to pay legal bills, court records showed. The woman, Heather Mack, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, could face the death penalty if found guilty of murdering Sheila von Wiese-Mack, whose battered body was found in a bloody suitcase outside a luxury hotel in August. Mack filed a suit in Chicago on Thursday seeking to transfer $150,000 out of her mother's $1.6 million trust fund to pay her legal expenses, according to her attorney, Anthony Scifo. Mack is the sole beneficiary of the trust, administered by William Wiese, the dead woman’s brother, Scifo said.
Saudi Arabia postponed Friday the next round of flogging for a blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes for insulting Islam because his wounds from last week's beating have not yet healed, his wife said. The public flogging of Raef Badawi, who is also serving a 10-year jail sentence, has sparked an international outcry and a campaign by Amnesty International and other rights groups to free him. Badawi received the first 50 lashes of his sentence outside a mosque in the Red Sea city of Jeddah on January 9. He is expected to undergo a total of 20 flogging sessions until his punishment is complete, but his wife Ensaf Haidar said the second round of lashes had been postponed on Friday.
Tom Steyer — the San Francisco hedge-fund manager turned environmental activist who has spent the last few election cycles spending vast amounts to influence climate-change policy nationwide — is considering a run to succeed retiring California Sen. Barbara Boxer. One of his advisers agreed to provide Yahoo News with a behind-the-scenes look at Steyer’s decision-making process.