By Patty Henetz SALT LAKE CITY (Reuters) - Utah's attorney general instructed county clerks on Tuesday to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples requesting them, as ordered by the federal judge who overturned a state ban on same-sex weddings, or risk being held in contempt of court. The admonishment from Attorney General Sean Reyes' office came shortly before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied for a third time a state request to put the judge's ruling on hold while the case remained under court review. Ryan Bruckner, a spokesman for the attorney general, said the instruction was not intended as an official dictate but to advise county clerks "if they continue to deny (applicants), they could have problems with being in contempt of court." "I would not expect to see much of a problem past Thursday," said Bruckner, adding that he expected all 29 of Utah's counties to comply with the court order. State and county government offices are closed on Wednesday in observance of the Christmas holiday. Utah became the 18th state to extend marriage rights to gays and lesbians when U.S. District Judge Robert Shelby on Friday sided with three same-sex couples in their lawsuit challenging a voter-passed amendment to the Utah Constitution that defined marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman. Shelby's finding that the exclusion violated gay couples' rights to due process and equal protection marked a major victory for gay rights activists in a conservative state, and it appears to have taken some people by surprise in Utah. At least four counties were still refusing to issue marriage licenses as of Monday, according the Salt Lake City-based gay rights group Utah Pride. It was unclear how many counties were continuing to do so on Tuesday, or if any had changed course due to the message from the attorney general's office. Salt Lake County, the state's most populous county, began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex applicants within hours of Shelby's ruling on Friday. Utah County, the second most populous county in the state, was among the jurisdictions that did not immediately follow the federal court's order. On Monday, Salt Lake City television station KUTV followed a lesbian couple into the Utah County clerk's office, where they were denied, according to the station. Officials in rural Cache County issued a statement on Monday saying they had closed the clerk's office there "until further notice" so that they could "sort out the legal issues and confusion created in the wake of Judge Shelby's opinion." The office remained closed on Tuesday. San Juan County Commission Chairman Bruce Adams said before the advisement from the attorney general that his office was waiting for legal direction from the state. "There's no effort to deny anybody, we're just waiting," he said. Utah Governor Gary Herbert has already filed a formal notice of his intention to appeal Shelby's ruling on its merits. On Monday, Shelby denied a request from the state to put his own ruling on hold pending appeal. The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in Denver, has likewise declined to issue an emergency stay of the ruling, as requested by the state. "Having considered the district court's decision and the parties' arguments concerning the stay factors, we conclude that a stay is not warranted," Circuit Judges Jerome Holmes and Robert Bacharach wrote on Tuesday in the court's third denial. President Barack Obama in 2011 nominated Shelby to be a federal judge in Utah, and he won confirmation from the U.S. Senate in 2012 with Utah's two Republican senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, lending their support. (This story was refiled to remove extraneous letters from headline) (Additional reporting by Robert Boczkiewicz in Denver; Writing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Steve Gorman; Editing by Edith Honan, Steve Orlofsky and Bill Trott)
- Yahoo News
U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., told the Yahoo News "Skullduggery" podcast that President Trump's supporters claiming voter fraud share a lot in common with the people searching for Bigfoot.
The prominent pro-democracy supporter's detention comes a day after several activists were jailed.
- Associated Press
The leader of a pro-gun group that stages armed protests against police violence has been charged with pointing a rifle at federal officers while in Kentucky for a demonstration. John F. Johnson, who calls himself “Grandmaster Jay,” is facing a federal charge of assaulting task force officers. A complaint filed in federal court in Louisville said Johnson pointed a rifle, which had a flashlight mounted to it, at officers who were on a roof in downtown Louisville on Sept. 4.
- Yahoo News 360
Media reports suggest President Trump is eyeing another bid for the White House in four years. Will Trump 2024 become a reality?
He is the first to be arrested under a controversial anti-conversion law passed last month.
- The Telegraph
Murderers and rapists could be barred from claiming asylum as part of Priti Patel's crackdown on immigration
Murderers and rapists to be prevented from claiming asylum, says Priti Patel, after the Jamaican deportation flight row. In an interview with The Telegraph, the Home Secretary said it was “completely wrong” that convicted killers and rapists released from jail should be able to exploit the asylum system to remain in the UK. She also indicated that asylum will be “streamlined” to prevent migrants making multiple claims that can be lodged and heard hours or even minutes before their removal. It will be part of a major reform of Britain’s “completely broken” asylum system, which is due to be unveiled in the new year. Her comments came after a murderer, two rapists and two would-be killers were among 23 criminals who escaped deportation to Jamaica early on Wednesday morning after lodging 11th hour appeals including claims for asylum. One was removed from the flight just minutes before the flight after a judge granted a stay.
- Associated Press
Vice President-elect Kamala Harris has named Tina Flournoy, a veteran Democratic strategist and aide to the Clintons, as her chief of staff, the transition team announced Thursday. Flournoy's appointment as Harris' top staffer adds to a team of advisers led by Black women. Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian heritage, is the nation's first female vice president.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden has settled on a team to lead the U.S. through its biggest ongoing crisis, two people familiar with the decision tell Politico.Jeff Zients, who headed the National Economic Council under former President Barack Obama and is co-chair of Biden's transition team, will reportedly be named the White House's COVID-19 coordinator. Vivek Murthy, the surgeon general under Obama, will reportedly return to his role with more responsibilities, and Biden's coronavirus advisory board co-chair Marcella Nunez-Smith will get a special role focused on health disparities.Zients "isn't a health care guru, and he's the first to say that," one source close to Biden told Politico. But his managerial experience is seen as an asset as the U.S. prepares to roll out a vaccine and combat the coronavirus-induced economic crisis — "he's essentially playing that role with the transition now," the source said. Zients will reportedly be paired with health experts including Murthy, who has already been a part of Biden's coronavirus plans. Nunez-Smith, a Yale University associate professor of medicine, will meanwhile help address how COVID-19 and other health care issues disproportionately affect people of color.The left wing of the Democratic party isn't expected to be thrilled with Zients' selection, The New York Times reports. Progressive groups such as Revolving Door Project and Justice Democrats have already pointed out his corporate record, and the fact that an anesthesia company managed under the investment firm Zients ran had poor reviews. Under Obama, "his role was essentially to be a management consultant for the executive branch: cutting costs, finding efficiencies and looking at things like a businessman," Revolving Door said in a document about Zients' background.More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
The United States on Thursday imposed fresh Iran-related sanctions, blacklisting an entity and an individual as Washington continues to ramp up pressure on Tehran during U.S. President Donald Trump's final months in office. The U.S. Treasury Department in a statement said that it had slapped sanctions on Shahid Meisami Group and its director, accusing the entity of being involved in Iran's chemical weapons research and linked to the Iranian Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, blacklisted by Washington and formerly headed by the Islamic Republic's top nuclear scientist killed last week.
- Architectural Digest
From a private island to a tiny Vermont tree houseOriginally Appeared on Architectural Digest
- Associated Press
The European Union’s aviation safety agency has extended a ban imposed on Pakistan's state-run airline this year barring it from flying to Europe after a plane crash that killed 97 people in the port city of Karachi, a spokesman said Friday. At the time — and while the probe into the May 22 Airbus A320 crash was still underway — authorities acknowledged that nearly a third of Pakistani pilots, 260 out of 860, had cheated on their pilot’s exams. Pakistan International Airlines subsequently grounded 150 of its pilots while a probe by the country’s Civil Aviation Authority into the other pilots is still ongoing.
- The Week
There appears to be growing support among Senate Republicans for a bipartisan coronavirus relief bill introduced earlier this week, reports The Washington Post.The $908 billion package — championed by moderate Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Susan Collins (D-Maine), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) — is in between what Democratic leadership is pushing for and what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has suggested. The moderates suggested an unemployment boost and money for state governments, but no stimulus checks.While McConnell on Thursday continued to resist the bipartisan bill, pushing instead for his version, which the White House has endorsed, other Republican senators got on board with the package. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), John Cornyn (R-Tex.), and Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) signaled they were open to the bipartisan bill.Democratic leaders said they believed the $908 billion package should be the basis for negotiations. Several Republicans echoed that, saying it wasn't exactly what they wanted but it made for a good starting point.McConnell didn't comment directly on the bipartisan proposal, but instead urged lawmakers to pull the trigger on his version, which he called "a serious and highly targeted relief proposal including elements which we know the president is ready and willing to sign into law."More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
A bilateral trade deal between Taiwan and the United States would reinforce U.S. support for the democratic island in the face of "unrelenting intimidation" from China, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said on Friday. Taiwan, claimed by China as its own territory, has long angled for a trade deal with its most important diplomatic and military backer, and in August Tsai announced a relaxation on imports of U.S. pork and beef, removing a stumbling block.
- The Daily Beast
Earlier this week, Project Veritas released the first of what it promised would be many shocking revelations from CNN’s internal editorial meetings, which founder James O’Keefe appears to have infiltrated and recorded over the course of several weeks.First, the right-wing group tried to make hay out of the fact that one high-level CNN staffer considered Fox News host Tucker Carlson to be racist—while simultaneously misidentifying the staffer in question. Their latest bombshell? CNN President Jeff Zucker thinks Rudy Giuliani is “crazy.”According to Project Veritas’ website, O’Keefe believes it will be “virtually impossible for the American public to take CNN’s reporting seriously after listening to these tapes.” And yet, once again, nothing that Zucker has said should surprise anyone who has been paying attention to Giuliani, especially in the weeks since Trump lost the presidential election to Joe Biden.“There is a term for what Rudy Giuliani is suspected of being, which is ‘useful idiot,’” a voice identified as Zucker’s can be heard saying in a tape made just a couple of days after the man formerly known as “America’s mayor” started pushing material supposedly obtained from Hunter Biden’s laptop.He goes on to call Giuliani’s efforts to undermine the election a “really important story,” adding, “It gets tied to the Hunter Biden email disinformation campaign. That’s the way we do this, because it’s all tied and part-and-parcel of one. I know Washington is working on putting that all together.”In a more recent call, when another staff member suggests that the “real craziness is the client,” referring to President Trump, “not the lawyers,” the voice ID’d as Zucker agrees before saying, “I think you raise a good point about not just pawning it off on the crazy legal team, but the client is the one who is directing the crazy legal team.”Other comments from Zucker that seem to have outraged Project Veritas concern the baseless allegations of pedophilia against Biden that circulated online, especially among QAnon Facebook groups, in the run-up to the election.“The president of the United States has just retweeted a post accusing Joe Biden of being a pedophile to his 86 million followers which is just beyond,” he says on another tape. “You know it also is just unacceptable that the president of the United States is trafficking in this and doing it.”Once again, an exposé intended to make Zucker and CNN look bad has only revealed that they are simply adhering to reality.Project Veritas’ CNN Sting Uncovers Explosive News That Tucker Carlson Is RacistRead more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Yahoo News Video
Joe Biden said Thursday that he will ask Americans to wear masks for 100 days as one of his first acts as president, stopping short of the nationwide mandate he's promoted before to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
- Associated Press
A council of Kentucky prosecutors said Friday it does not have the legal authority to appoint another special prosecutor in the police shooting of Breonna Taylor, despite a plea from Taylor's mother. Tamika Palmer had petitioned the Kentucky Prosecutors Advisory Council in October for a new special prosecutor to investigate police actions in her daughter’s death. In September, a grand jury declined to indict any Louisville police officers on charges connected to Taylor's shooting death during a warrant search.
As 300 UK troops arrive in Mali, the BBC's Frank Gardner looks at the role of Islamist militants across Africa.
Philippine police on Friday threatened to cane people who violate social distancing protocols as the Southeast Asian nation fights the spread of the coronavirus during the festive season. The Philippines celebrates one of the world's longest Christmas seasons, starting as early as September, and crowds have started to flock to sprawling malls and shopping centres despite the pandemic. Police general Cesar Binag, commander of the coronavirus task force, told a news conference that police and soldiers would patrol in public areas in the capital Manila, the hotspot of COVID-19 cases, carrying 1 meter rattan sticks to measure distancing.
- The Week
President-elect Joe Biden said when it comes to the Department of Justice, he is "not going to be telling them what they have to do and don't have to do."Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris were interviewed by CNN's Jake Tapper on Thursday, and the discussion turned to reports that President Trump is contemplating preemptively pardoning his adult children, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Biden said this "concerns me in terms of what kind of precedent it sets and how the rest of the world looks [at] us as a nation of laws and justice."Biden promised that he is "not going to be saying, 'Go prosecute A, B, or C,' I'm not going to be telling them. That's not the role, it's not my Justice Department, it's the people's Justice Department. So the persons or person I pick to run that department are going to be people who are going to have the independent capacity to decide who gets prosecuted, who doesn't."Harris, who once served as California's attorney general, added that the administration will assume that "any decision coming out of the Justice Department ... should be based on the law, it should not be influence by politics, period."More stories from theweek.com What Trump is doing isn't politics. It's something much worse. 5 absurdly funny cartoons about Trump's desperate fraud claims The Donald goes down to Georgia
- Associated Press
Israeli police said Friday they arrested a Jewish man after he poured out a “flammable liquid” inside a church near Jerusalem’s Old City, in what they described as a “criminal” incident. The police did not provide further details about the motive, but past attacks on churches in the Holy Land have been blamed on Jewish extremists. Friday’s incident took place at the Church of All Nations, a Catholic church built on the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Christians believe Jesus was betrayed by Judas, one of his followers, and arrested by the Romans before being crucified.