The Supreme Court put a hold Wednesday on gay marriages in Virginia, as it weighs whether to legalize same-sex marriage across the United States. The decision blocked a federal appeals court ruling last month that struck down the southern state's ban on same-sex marriage in what had been hailed as a landmark victory for the gay rights movement. In making its decision last month, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had said Virginia's ban violated the US Constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law by infringing on the right to wed.
Outrage over the fatal shooting of an African-American teenager is giving way to anger that the white police officer who pulled the trigger might never face justice. Several dozen protesters gathered Wednesday outside the St Louis County prosecutor's office, calling for Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson to stand trial for the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. Potentially, it could invite Wilson to appear, county prosecutor Robert McCulloch told St Louis news media. Nearby, US Attorney General Eric Holder, on a day trip from Washington, mingled with Ferguson community leaders and residents, as a federal Justice Department civil rights investigation into Brown's death rolls on.
Jihadists told the family of American journalist James Foley this month that he would be executed, one of the media outlets he worked for said Wednesday, after he was beheaded. Philip Balboni, chief executive of news site GlobalPost, to which Foley contributed while covering the war in Libya and then Syria before his abduction there in 2012, said the journalist's captors had been in touch in the weeks before his murder. "We've had communication with the captors, and there was at one time a receptivity to a negotiation that would lead to a release," Balboni told MSNBC television. Balboni then stated that, after the beginning of US air strikes in Iraq -- the first since the end of the Iraq war -- the Islamic State warned the Foleys that their son would be killed.
Brazil's central bank said Wednesday it would ease banks' reserve requirements for the second time in less than a month, freeing up $4.5 billion to stimulate lending and boost the sluggish economy. Under the new rules, banks will be allowed to use up to 60 percent of reserves for credit operations, an increase from the 50-percent limit announced on July 25. The bank said the move would free up an additional 10 billion reals ($4.5 billion) in credit. It comes on the heels of the July 25 stimulus measures, which the bank said would free up $13 billion in additional credit.
A British couple's dream of a quiet retirement in the sun of southern France turned into a nightmare when their neighbours walled them into their home. Locals in the village of Brugairolles in the foothills of the Pyrenees were so appalled by the immurement, they rose up to rescue the elderly couple, tearing down a wall from the front of the house and ripping open windows and doors that had been nailed shut. "We could not accept that they should continue to live under such terror," declared retired Republican Guard Jeannot Gach, who helped lead the operation to free Faith and John Dyson, both in their 70s, from their home. The Dysons' tormentors were not jealous locals resentful of outsiders pushing up property prices, but another British couple furious that they had apparently trespassed on a shared lane they claimed to own.
Egypt's prime minister said Wednesday he hoped severe power cuts across the country will be reduced next week, after widespread complaints over unprecedented blackouts of up to eight hours a day. The intermittent power cuts -- often lasting for an hour each and up to seven or eight times a day -- come during the peak of the blistering summer when temperatures can hover around 40 degrees Celsius (104 Fahrenheit). President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government has been mindful of the potential for unrest. Power cuts in 2013 added to widespread grievances against Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, toppled by the military then led by Sisi after massive protests.
Syrian troops battled Wednesday to hold onto their last stronghold in the northern province of Raqa, under fierce attack from Islamic State jihadists, a monitoring group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS fighters had been attacking Tabqa military airport for around 10 days, but the fighting overnight from Tuesday was the heaviest yet. Tabqa airport is the last remaining stronghold of Syrian troops in Raqa province, which has been largely overrun by IS fighters. The extremist group controls the provincial capital, which was captured by other rebel groups in March 2013 but later seized by IS.
A Ukrainian warplane was blown out of the sky over rebel-held territory Wednesday as fierce clashes between government troops and pro-Russian insurgents left dozens of civilians dead. Fighting intensified as Kiev appeared to ramp up a deadly offensive to crush the ailing rebellion in the east ahead of a fresh round of diplomacy that will see the presidents of Russia and Ukraine meet next week for the first time in months. Military spokesman Andriy Lysenko said a Su-25 jet was shot close to the second-largest insurgent bastion of Lugansk, where government forces claim to have battled back control over several districts in the past few days. Clashes in and around the other major rebel stronghold of Donetsk killed 43 civilians in the past 24 hours, local authorities said.
US President Barack Obama on Wednesday demanded the world take action against the "cancer" of jihadist extremism in Iraq, after militants murdered an American reporter. As US jets continued to strike jihadist targets despite a threat to kill a second reporter, Obama said: "When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done." Shortly after he spoke, the State Department asked for 300 more US troops to be sent to Iraq to protect US facilities. Obama was speaking after the so-called "Islamic State," which has seized much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, released a video showing a masked militant beheading US reporter James Foley.
Guatemalan army chief of staff Rudy Ortiz and four other military officers died Wednesday when their helicopter crashed in a mountainous region where drug traffickers operate, the government said. The crash occurred in the Huehuetenango department on the Mexican border as the officers carried out a routine inspection of the area, where unrest has also erupted over hydroelectric dams and mining projects, said Defense Minister Manuel Lopez.
By Gary Robertson RICHMOND Va. (Reuters) - Prosecutors in the bribery and corruption trial of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell tried on Wednesday to cast doubt on an accountant’s testimony for the defense that the governor's personal finances were sound. Attorney Ryan Faulconer presented documents showing McDonnell and his wife, Maureen, had used loans from businessman Jonnie Williams to pay off credit card and other debt and make it seem as if their finances were in good order. District Judge James Spencer also questioned Connecticut accountant Allen Kosowsky about numbers and examples he used to conclude that the McDonnells were on solid financial footing. Kosowsky asserted that the ex-governor’s ability to write cash advances, transfer money from one credit card to pay off another and to borrow money from credit card accounts was a sign of financial well-being.
The armed wing of Hamas warned foreign airlines against flying into Tel Aviv on Wednesday and declared truce talks in Cairo over as a six-week war with Israel spirals into further bloodshed. Israeli warplanes carried out dozens of air strikes across Gaza again on Wednesday in response to multiple rocket attacks on southern Israel, as nine days of calm exploded into bloodshed. Several thousand furious mourners poured onto the streets of Jabaliya refugee camp to bury the wife and infant son of the top commander of Hamas's armed wing, baying for revenge. Mohammed Deif, who has topped Israel's most wanted list for more than a decade, escaped the assassination attempt, Hamas said.