In brief | Nation & World | 8-14-14


Kurdish forces say they urgently need more weapons

MAKHMOUR, Iraq — The Kurdish commander stared down a road shimmering in the heat, then gestured to where the Islamic militants were deployed, plotting their next advance on this dusty Iraqi frontier town.

There was very little his Kurdish fighters could do about it.

“They have better weapons,” Lt. Col. Saadi Soruchi said of the insurgents. “American weapons.”

The Kurdish forces trying to defend frontline towns like Makhmour in their autonomous region of northern Iraq have felt the brunt of the Islamic extremist fighters’ attacks and know how ferocious they are. The militants are bristling with American weapons and armored Humvees looted from Iraqi arsenals, giving them a powerful edge.

After Washington’s promises to arm them, the Kurds say they badly need heavier weapons from the United States to stem the expansion of the Islamic State group.

Withheld identity of suburban St. Louis officer who shot, killed unarmed teen festering issue

FERGUSON, Mo. — In the days since an unarmed black teenager was shot dead by a white police officer in a St. Louis suburb, a big question that’s smoldered amid the outrage of many is who the officer is.

Authorities have refused to release the name of the officer who shot 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson. Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson has said he’s concerned about the officer’s safety amid numerous death threats. Computer hackers have also targeted the city’s website and released details online about individual city employees.

But civil rights activists and the attorney for Brown’s family, all pressing for calm amid nights of unrest since Saturday’s shooting, counter that knowing the officer’s name may help the area to heal, allowing the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and others to dig into the officer’s background for any prior brutality.

“We don’t want anyone’s life threatened. If someone like this officer is killed, then there is no justice,” said John Gaskin III of St. Louis County’s NAACP chapter. “What the officer may have done is certainly unacceptable, and we are outraged. But we want to be realistic here: This is a man with a family.”

Investigators have released few details, saying only that a scuffle unfolded after the officer asked Brown and another man to get out of the street, and that the officer’s weapon fired at some point inside a patrol car. Witnesses say Brown had his hands raised when the officer repeatedly shot him.

Federal court refuses to delay Virginia gay marriage ruling; couples could marry by next week

RICHMOND, Va. — Same-sex couples could begin marrying as early as next week in Virginia after a federal appeals court refused Wednesday to delay its ruling that struck down the state’s gay marriage ban.

The state would also need to start recognizing gay marriages from out of state next Wednesday, though the U.S. Supreme Court could effectively put same-sex marriages on hold again if opponents of same-sex marriage are able to win an emergency delay.

A county clerk in northern Virginia had asked the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond to stay its decision striking down the ban, issued in late July, while it is appealed to the high court. The appeals court’s order did not explain why it denied that request.

The 4th Circuit decision “shows that there’s no longer a justification to keep same-sex couples from marrying,” said Nancy Leong, a law professor at the University of Denver. “Given how many different judges in so many different parts of the country … have reached the same result, it seems highly likely that the plaintiffs will ultimately prevail on the merits, and I think that, in turn, explains why the 4th Circuit was not willing to grant a stay.”

While clerks in other states within the 4th Circuit — West Virginia and the Carolinas — wouldn’t technically have to begin issuing licenses as well, federal courts in the state would likely make them if they don’t, Leong said.

By wire sources