After years of waiting, same-sex couples marrying in New Jersey face planning on a deadline
Couples who have dreamed for years, even decades, of being able to legally wed in New Jersey are getting their wish after the state Supreme Court on Friday refused to delay a lower-court order for the state to recognize same-sex marriages starting Monday.
Because of the unexpected decision, same-sex couples who want to be the first to get married in New Jersey are in a scramble to plan ceremonies.
Newark Mayor Cory Booker and David DelVecchio, mayor of the gay-friendly community of Lambertville, both plan to lead ceremonies for gay couples at 12:01 a.m. Monday. A handful of towns, including Hoboken and Collingswood, are opening offices Saturday to accept applications for marriage licenses from same-sex couples.
Amy Quinn and Heather Jensen applied for a marriage license at 8 a.m. Friday in Asbury Park, the town where they live and where an influx of gay couples during the last decade has been a major part of the area's revival. Their plan was to be married the second they were eligible to do so.
But by Friday afternoon, Quinn said she didn't know precisely when that would be, or where. She's spending the weekend doing wedding planning on the fly.
Syrian activists: Suicide vehicle bombing of checkpoint outside Damascus kills 16 soldiers.
BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels assaulted a checkpoint in a pro-government suburb of Damascus on Saturday, setting off a suicide vehicle bomb that killed 16 soldiers, activists said.
The violence came a day after nine Shiite pilgrims from Lebanon kidnapped in Syria last year were freed as part of a negotiated hostage deal that could see two Turkish pilots held by Lebanese militants and dozens of Syrian women held in Syrian government jails released.
Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that the Syrian opposition had demanded that the female detainees be taken to Turkey. He said once that that issue was resolved then the complicated, multilateral exchange would be complete.
"We are speaking with the Syrians about this issue and, God willing, when this logistical matter ends the whole process will end," Charbel told the Al-Manar TV channel of Lebanon's Hezbollah group.
While details about the deal remained murky, it appeared to represent one of the more ambitious negotiated settlements to come out of Syria's civil war, now in its third year, where the contenting sides remain largely opposed to any bartered peace.
Egypt's Brotherhood faces possible wave of trials as authorities seek to link it to violence
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood faces a wave of trials unlike any it has seen in its history, threatening to put a large number of its senior leadership behind bars for years, even life, as military-backed authorities determined to cripple the group prepare prosecutions on charges including inciting violence and terrorism.
The prosecutions are the next phase in the wide-scale crackdown on the Brotherhood following the military's July ouster of President Mohammed Morsi, who goes on trial next month.
Morsi's trial, the most high-profile case, is setting the pattern for the others, aiming to show the Brotherhood leadership as directing a campaign of violence. Morsi is charged with inciting murder in connection to a protest during his year in office in which his supporters attacked protesters outside his palace.
But leaders may also be charged with fomenting violence in post-coup protests by Morsi's Islamist supporters demanding his reinstatement. Security forces have cracked down heavily on the protests, claiming some participants were armed, and have killed hundreds of Morsi backers. With each new round of protests and violence, prosecutors consider new charges that include incitement and arming supporters, Brotherhood lawyers say.
From nine to more than a dozen cases so far are being put together, each with multiple defendants, according to a prosecution official and Brotherhood lawyers. So far four cases, including Morsi's, have been referred to trial with a total of at least 34 defendants, though a few are being tried in absentia. Ahmed Seif, a human rights lawyer following the investigations, predicted around 200 Brotherhood leaders and senior officials could eventually end up in court.
Away from the public eye, Obama quietly nurtures an evolving sense of spirituality
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is not an overtly religious man. He and his family rarely attend church, and he almost never elaborates in public about his own relationship to his Christian faith.
But far away from the public eye, his longtime advisers say, the president has carefully nurtured a sense of spirituality that has served as a grounding mechanism during turbulent times, when the obstacles to governing a deeply divided nation seem nearly insurmountable.
Every year on Aug. 4, the president's birthday, Obama convenes a group of pastors by phone to receive their prayers for him for the year to come. During the most challenging of times, prayer circles are organized with prominent religious figures such as megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist.
And each morning for the past five years, before most of his aides even arrive at the White House, Obama has read a devotional written for him and sent to his BlackBerry, weaving together biblical scripture with reflections from literary figures like Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis.
"I've certainly seen the president's faith grow in his time in office," said Joshua DuBois, an informal spiritual adviser to Obama who writes the devotionals and ran Obama's faith-based office until earlier this year. "When you cultivate your faith, it grows."
2 Florida prisoners registered as felons within days of being released by bogus documents
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — As authorities search for two convicted killers freed by bogus paperwork, questions linger about who created the legitimate-looking documents that exposed gaps in Florida's judicial system.
Within days of walking out of prison, Joseph Jenkins and Charles Walker, who had been sentenced to life, traveled about 300 miles to a jail an Orlando and registered as felons. They signed paperwork. They were fingerprinted, and they were even photographed before walking out of the jail without raising any alarms. Had one of the murder victim's families not contacted prosecutors, authorities might not have known about the mistaken releases.
"We're looking at the system's breakdown, I'm not standing here to point the finger at anyone at this time," Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings said Friday as he appealed to the public to help authorities find the men. He said he believed they were still in the central Florida area.
In light of the errors, the Corrections Department changed the way it verifies early releases and state legislators promised to hold investigative hearings to figure out how the documents — complete with case numbers and a judge's forged signature — duped the system.
Jenkins was released Sept. 27 and registered at the Orange County jail in Orlando on Sept. 30. Walker was set free Oct. 8 and registered there three days later.
Shutdown showdown widened GOP-tea party rift ahead of tough debates, 2014 midterm elections
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Republicans' clear defeat in the budget-debt brawl has widened the rift between the Grand Old Party and the blossoming tea party movement that helped revive it.
Implored by House Speaker John Boehner to unite and "fight another day" against President Barack Obama and Democrats, Republicans instead intensified attacks on one another, an ominous sign in advance of more difficult policy fights and the 2014 midterm elections.
The tea party movement spawned by the passage of Obama's health care overhaul three years ago put the GOP back in charge of the House and in hot pursuit of the law's repeal. The effort hit a wall this month in the budget and debt fight, but tea partyers promised to keep up the effort.
Whatever the future of the law, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell vowed he would not permit another government shutdown.
"I think we have now fully acquainted our new members with what a losing strategy that is," McConnell said in an interview with The Hill newspaper.
Obama and Hill Dems unified during budget battle, but tough tests await in next round
WASHINGTON (AP) — For President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats, this month's budget battles brought about a remarkable period of party unity, a welcome change for the White House after a summer of disputes over possible military action in Syria, government spying programs and the president's pick to lead the Federal Reserve.
But Democratic solidarity will face a tougher test during the broader budget talks following the reopening of the government and the increase of Treasury's borrowing authority. While the prospect of a large-scale agreement is slim, Republicans will try to extract concessions from Obama on spending, deficit reduction and entitlement reform — all areas where Democratic lawmakers have worried the president is willing to give up too much.
"When things get serious, some of these negotiations are going to be awfully tough for people," Jim Manley, former adviser to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said of congressional Democrats.
Throughout the 16-day shutdown and march toward the debt ceiling deadline, congressional Democrats lined up solidly behind Obama and his vow to not negotiate with Republicans. It was a hard-line stance that many in the party wished he had taken during previous fiscal fights.
Democratic unity was further bolstered by the fissures that emerged among Republicans and a burst of polling that showed the GOP was taking the brunt of the public's blame for the shutdown. And in the end, every congressional Democrat voted for the deal that keeps the government open until Jan. 15, lifts the debt ceiling until Feb. 7, and opens two months of budget negotiations.
Autopsy inconclusive for fetus found in girl's shopping bag; NYPD continues to investigate
NEW YORK (AP) — An autopsy of a fetus found in a teenage girl's shopping bag at a New York City lingerie store was inconclusive, and more tests will be needed to determine how the fetus died, the city medical examiner's office said Friday.
The needed tests could take a couple of weeks as police continue to look into the macabre case.
Preliminary reports from detectives suggest the fetus was born alive and possibly had been asphyxiated, but chief New York Police Department spokesman John McCarthy said that the case was still being investigated and that police were awaiting the medical examiners' determination of the cause of death.
The case began Thursday when a security guard stopped two 17-year-old girls to examine their bags at a Victoria's Secret store in midtown Manhattan. The guard found the dead fetus in one of the bags.
The girl who had been carrying the bag containing the fetus told detectives she had delivered a day earlier and didn't know what to do, authorities said. Police believe she delivered at the other girl's house.
Tom Foley, former speaker of the House in a less combative time, dies at age 84
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Tom Foley was born in 1929, the year of the great stock market crash, and grew up in Spokane during World War II. These experiences shaped his viewpoint during a long political career, which culminated with him becoming the first Speaker of the House to hail from west of the Rocky Mountains.
Foley, who died Friday at the age of 84 of complications from a stroke, also became the first speaker to be booted from office by his constituents since the Civil War, suffering defeat during the 1994 "Republican Revolution." Cornell Clayton, director of the Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, said Foley's defeat signaled a change to the more confrontational politics of modern times.
"He was the last major leader to grow up in the Depression and World War II era," Clayton said. "They gave him a different perspective on viewing policy disputes."
Members of that generation worked in a more bipartisan manner, Clayton said. "They saw us all on the same team."
Foley served 30 years in the U.S. House, including more than five years in the speaker's chair. In that job, he was third in line of succession to the presidency, making him the highest-ranking public official in Washington state history.
Cardinals rough up Kershaw and Dodgers in 9-0 rout, World Series-bound for 2nd time in 3 years
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Clayton Kershaw was long gone. Michael Wacha kept Dodgers hitters down, ignoring the surprisingly big lead and pitching as if the opposing ace was still dealing.
The rookie left no doubt in a 9-0 rout Friday night that put the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the second time in three years and kicked Los Angeles' high-dollar roster to the curb.
"Yeah, anytime you're going to face Clayton Kershaw, you're probably going to have to match zeros against him," Wacha said after getting the best of Kershaw for the second time in the series. "You know, our guys just battled out there today.
"It was so much fun to watch in the dugout."
Matt Carpenter's double capped an 11-pitch at-bat that got a sellout crowd for Game 6 into the spirit of things and triggered a four-run third, and the St. Louis offense didn't let up. He'd been just hoping to put the ball in play after striking out in the first.