AP News


Arizona governor's veto aimed at own party's right PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by BOB CHRISTIE, Associated Press   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 06:59

PHOENIX (AP) — Republican Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer slapped down the right wing of her own party, vetoing a bill pushed by social conservatives that would have allowed people with sincerely held religious beliefs to refuse to serve gays.

The conservative governor said she could not sign a bill that was not only unneeded but would damage the state's improving business environment and divide its citizens.

Senate Bill 1062 had set off a national debate over gay rights, religion and discrimination and subjected Arizona to blistering criticism from major corporations and political leaders from both parties.

Loud cheers erupted outside the Capitol building immediately after Brewer made her announcement Wednesday night.

Brewer pushed back hard against the GOP conservatives who forced the bill forward by citing examples of religious rights infringements in other states.

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Ukraine: Pro-Russia gunmen seize offices in Crimea PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by DALTON BENNETT, Associated Press   
Thursday, 27 February 2014 06:57

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of heavily armed gunmen seized control of local government buildings in Ukraine's Crimea region early Thursday and raised the Russian flag, mirroring the three-month protest movement that drove Ukraine's pro-Russian president into hiding last week.

The moves escalated tensions in Ukraine, whose population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West. Some 150,000 Russian soldiers carried out military exercises and fighter jets patrolled the border, as a respected Russian newspaper reported that Moscow is sheltering fugitive Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

In a statement published by three Russian news agencies, the fugitive president said he is asking Russia's protection from "extremists" and that he still considers himself to be Ukraine's legitimate leader. An unnamed Russian official said that his request was "satisfied in the territory of Russia," the Russian agencies said.

Oleksandr Turchynov, who stepped in as acting president after Yanukovych's flight, warned that any move by Russian troops off of their base in Crimea "will be considered a military aggression."

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California storms bring rain, threat of floods PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by Associated Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 17:31

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Much-needed rain fell on downtown San Francisco and elsewhere in California on Wednesday at the outset of what the parched state hopes is the start to a one-two punch of stormy weather.

The storm was expected to move down the coast, dumping a half-inch to an inch of rain in southern areas late in the day, forecasters said.

A potentially stronger storm moving in late Thursday could bring thunder and dump up to 2 inches of rain in central and southern valleys, 2 to 4 inches in the foothills and up to 6 inches in some mountain spots.

State water officials plan Thursday to survey the anemic mountain snow pack, and will likely find that California's precipitation is badly lagging what's needed to quench the region's thirst.

After 2013 ended as the state's driest year on record, all that predicted rain and snow should be nothing but good news. But there also was a risky side of the downpours.

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Even GOP leaders say tax overhaul not likely in 2014 PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 17:28

WASHINGTON (AP) — A sweeping House Republican plan to overhaul the nation's tax laws would wipe out a slew of popular tax breaks to help pay for lower overall tax rates, a politically risky move in an election year that drew quick opposition Wednesday.

The plan would repeal deductions for state and local taxes, medical expenses and moving expenses. Tax credits for child care, adoption services and energy-efficient upgrades to homes would be gone. The mortgage interest deduction would be reduced for people buying houses costing more than $500,000.

In exchange, income tax rates would be cut and the standard deduction, which is used by most taxpayers, would be nearly doubled. The child tax credit would be increased and a complicated series of tax breaks for education expenses would be consolidated and simplified.

The plan borrows ideas from President Barack Obama and other Democrats. But here's a reality check: It has almost no chance of becoming law this year. Even House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, distanced himself from the details Wednesday.

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Texas gay marriage ban latest to be struck down PDF  | Print |  E-mail
Written by CHRIS TOMLINSON, Associated Press   
Wednesday, 26 February 2014 17:27

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A federal judge declared a same-sex marriage ban in deeply conservative Texas unconstitutional on Wednesday, but will allow the nation's second-most populous state to enforce the law pending an appeal that will likely go to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Judge Orlando Garcia issued the preliminary injunction after two gay couples challenged a state constitutional amendment and a longstanding law. His ruling is the latest in a tangled web of lawsuits across the country expected to end up in the Supreme Court next year.

"Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our United States Constitution," Garcia wrote. "These Texas laws deny plaintiffs access to the institution of marriage and its numerous rights, privileges, and responsibilities for the sole reason that Plaintiffs wish to be married to a person of the same sex."

Garcia said the couples are likely to win their case and the ban should be lifted, but said he would not enforce his ruling pending one by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which already is hearing two other states' cases. He also will give Texas time to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

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