An Alabama appeals court ruled on Friday that the state must recognize the out-of-state adoption of three children by the estranged wife of their birth mother, lawyers for the plaintiff said. The decision comes as a handful of Alabama judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of a federal ruling, and as another same-sex couple in Mobile has sued seeking similar adoption rights. Alabama this month became the 37th state where gay marriage is legal after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay a federal ruling that struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. Despite that, Roy Moore, the conservative chief justice of the state's Supreme Court, has directed judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
International monitors said Friday the conflict in Ukraine was at a "crossroads" as further losses among government forces rattled a two-week-old truce just as it seemed to be gaining traction. The envoy to Ukraine for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the peace deal, told the UN Security Council that while there were encouraging signs, the country still risked all-out war. Russia formally annexed the territory in March 2014, triggering an international furore. The uprising in Ukraine's east, which has claimed at least 5,800 lives, began the following month.
By David Lawder and Richard Cowan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress on Friday appeared to be headed toward approving a three-week-long stopgap funding bill for the domestic security agency that postpones the threat of a partial shutdown, but moves lawmakers no closer to a permanent solution. With only hours remaining before Department of Homeland Security funding expires at midnight, the House of Representatives was pursuing a short-term funding extension. It would give Republicans more time to agree on a way to keep the agency open over the long term, while still fighting Democratic President Barack Obama over his immigration order lifting the threat of deportation for millions of undocumented residents. The measure would then go to the Senate for expected approval on Friday afternoon.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas used a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday to rail against the party establishment, calling himself a “disruptive app” like Uber that would upend the political system. Delighting the assembled conservative shock troops, Cruz castigated the Republican leadership for selling out their principles by separating a funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security from a measure that would roll back President Obama’s executive action on immigration
Eight people were found dead overnight in an apparent mass murder and suicide in rural southern Missouri, the Missouri State Highway Patrol said on Friday. The events unfolded around 10 p.m. Thursday night when the Texas County Sheriff’s Department responded to a call about a disturbance involving a weapon at a residence in Tyrone. After further investigation, authorities said they found five other victims and one person who was wounded in three other homes in Tyrone. Houston School District Superintendent Scott Dill said the killings shocked the small community.
Shopping mall operators need to increase security through more staff, cameras and other techniques in light of threats made against the Mall of America in Minnesota and other shopping centers by Somali-based Islamist militants this week, outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said. "I certainly think we have to step up our sensitivities to what goes on in these commercial enterprises," Holder said in an interview with CNN that aired on Friday. "It would be the responsible thing for operators of these malls to increase their capabilities when it comes to keeping people safe who are just going about their everyday lives." In a separate interview with Politico, also published on Friday, Holder said he would push in his final weeks in office to lower the standard of proof for civil-rights offenses that would make it easier for the federal government to bring charges in future cases. The Justice Department recently closed its investigation into the shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, without filing charges against gunman George Zimmerman because of "insufficient evidence." "I think that if we adjust those standards, we can make the federal government a better backstop - make us more a part of the process in an appropriate way to reassure the American people that decisions are made by people who are really disinterested," he told Politico.