INT'L NEWS in brief

Published: Friday | December 27, 2013 Comments 0


Holdouts in Utah now letting gay couples wed

SALT LAKE CITY (AP):

The last of the Utah counties that were holding out on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples reversed course yesterday and decided to hand out licenses to all eligible applicants.

Officials for the four holdouts - Box Elder, Utah, Piute and San Juan counties -told The Associated Press they made the decision to offer licenses to same-sex couples.

County clerks say they had little choice after an appeals court on Tuesday declined to intervene and halt gay marriage.

US District Judge Robert Shelby on Friday ruled that Utah's ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, sending gay couples rushing to clerk offices for licenses.

The Utah attorney general's office had said counties could be held in contempt of federal court if they refused to comply.

Intelligence officials say al-Qaida leader targeting UN workers

BAGHDAD (AP):

The shadowy leader of a powerful al-Qaida group fighting in Syria sought to kidnap United Nations workers and scrawled out plans for his aides to take over in the event of his death, according to excerpts of letters obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Iraqi intelligence officials offered the AP the letters, as well as the first known photograph of the Nusra Front leader, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, the head of one of the most powerful bands of radicals fighting the Syrian government in the country's civil war.

The officials said they obtained the information about al-Golani after they captured members of another al-Qaida group in September. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorised to speak to journalists.

The officials said other letters detailed the planned kidnapping and killing of other foreigners, and Syrian and Iraqi civilians.

Poll: Americans hopeful for a better 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — Ready to ring in the new year, Americans look ahead with optimism, according to a new AP-Times Square New Year's Eve poll. Their ratings of the year gone by? Less than glowing.

On the whole, Americans rate their own experience in 2013 more positively than negatively, but when asked to assess the year for the United States or the world at large, things turn sour.

—All told, 32 percent say 2013 was a better year for them than 2012, while 20 per cent say it was worse and 46 per cent say the two years were really about the same.

Young people were more apt to see improvement: 40 per cent of people under age 30 called 2013 a better year than 2012, compared with 25 per cent of people age 65 or older.

Today before power returns to parts of US, Canada hit by ice

LITCHFIELD, Maine (AP) — Some people in the United States and Canada who have been without electricity since Saturday may not get their lights back on for another day.

But that could change as more snow creeps into Maine and parts of Michigan and cold temperatures keep ice from melting off power lines and tree branches, posing new risks for outages.

Bangor Hydro Electric in Maine is advising people it will be the end of today before its more than 11,000 customers all are back on line. The number has fluctuated as some people get power back while others lose it. The utility said downed trees are the biggest problem facing line crews.

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