TIME Palestine

U.K. Parliament Votes to Recognize Palestinian State

A pro-Palestine supporter wears a Palestinian and Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London
A pro-Palestine supporter wears a Palestinian and Union flag outside the Houses of Parliament in London Oct. 13, 2014 Luke MacGregor—Reuters

Vote overwhelmingly in favor, although more than half of lawmakers did not participate

(LONDON) — British lawmakers voted Monday in favor of recognizing Palestine as a state, a symbolic move intended to increase pressure for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Legislators in the House of Commons voted 274 to 12 to support a motion calling on the British government to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”

Prime Minister David Cameron and other government leaders abstained, and more than half of the 650 Commons members did not participate in the vote.

But the motion had support from both government and opposition lawmakers, who said it could help kick-start the peace process following a summer war in Gaza that claimed the lives of more than 2,100 Palestinians, the majority civilians, and more than 70 Israelis, most of them soldiers.

Labour Party legislator Grahame Morris said recognizing a Palestinian state could help break the impasse in peace negotiations before it was too late.

Otherwise, he said, “any hope of a two-state solution — the only viable solution — will have disappeared altogether.”

Conservative lawmaker Nicholas Soames — grandson of World War II Prime Minister Winston Churchill — said that “to recognize Palestine is both morally right and is in our national interest.”

The government said the vote would not change Britain’s official diplomatic stance. Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood said the U.K. would recognize Palestinian statehood when it would help bring about peace.

In 2012 the United Nations General Assembly voted to recognize a state of Palestine on territories captured by Israel in 1967. But the United States and many European countries have not followed suit.

But Western politicians have expressed frustration with Israel’s continued settlement-building on West Bank land the Palestinians want for a future state.

Earlier this month Sweden’s new Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said his government would recognize the state of Palestine, an announcement that drew praise from Palestinian officials and criticism from Israel.

TIME Infectious Disease

About 70 Hospital Staffers Cared for Ebola Patient

(DALLAS) — They drew his blood, put tubes down his throat and wiped up his diarrhea. They analyzed his urine and wiped saliva from his lips, even after he had lost consciousness.

About 70 staff members at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital were involved in the care of Thomas Eric Duncan after he was hospitalized, including a nurse now being treated for the same Ebola virus that killed the Liberian man who was visiting Dallas, according to medical records his family provided to The Associated Press.

The size of the medical team reflects the hospital’s intense effort to save Duncan’s life, but it also suggests that many other people could have been exposed to the virus during Duncan’s time in an isolation unit.

On Monday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the infection of the nurse means the agency must broaden the pool of people getting close monitoring. Authorities have said they do not know how the nurse was infected, but they suspect some kind of breach in the hospital’s protocol.

The medical records given to the AP offer clues, both to what happened and who was involved, but the hospital says the CDC does not have them.

Dr. Carole Lieberman, a Beverly Hills psychiatrist who studies mental health epidemiology, said the apparent breach is a grave concern that she compared to “a puddle of gasoline that is spreading out, and the match could be lit at any time.”

Until now, the CDC has been actively monitoring 48 people who might have had contact with Duncan after he fell ill with an infection but before he was put in isolation. The number included 10 people known to have contact and 38 who may have had contact, including people he was staying with and health care professionals who attended to him during an emergency room visit from which he was sent home. None is sick.

The CDC has not yet established a firm number of health care workers who had contact with Duncan.

“If this one individual was infected — and we don’t know how — within the isolation unit, then it is possible that other individuals could have been infected as well,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC. “We do not today have a number of such exposed people or potentially exposed health care workers. It’s a relatively large number, we think in the end.”

Caregivers who began treating Duncan after he tested positive for Ebola were following a “self-monitoring regimen” in which they were instructed to take their temperatures regularly and report any symptoms. But they were not considered at high risk.

Typically, the nurses, doctors and technicians caring for a contagious patient in isolation would be treating other people as well and going home to their families after decontaminating themselves. The hospital has refused to answer questions about their specific duties.

The 1,400-plus pages of medical records show that nurses, doctors and other hospital employees wore face shields, double gowns, protective footwear and even hazmat suits to avoid touching any of Duncan’s bodily fluids. Ebola spreads through direct contact with those fluids, usually blood, feces and vomit. The virus has also been detected in urine, semen and breast milk, and it may be in saliva and tears.

CDC officials said there were chinks in that protection at Texas Presbyterian, but they have not identified them and are investigating.

A CDC spokesman did not dispute that the agency did not have the medical records, and said he would double check. It’s unclear why those reports are not in the hands of federal health investigators.

“Patient had large, extremely watery diarrhea,” a nurse wrote in a report filed the day Duncan tested positive.

Another nurse noted that Duncan’s urine was “darker in color with noted blood streaks.”

It was unclear from the records released to the AP how many of the approximately 70 individuals involved in Duncan’s care had direct contact with his body or fluids.

Dr. Aileen Marty, a World Health Organization doctor who recently returned to Florida International University after a month fighting Ebola in Nigeria, said no amount of protection is going to help if hospital workers do not put on and take off their protective layers carefully.

“The first thing in caring for someone with Ebola is to do everything in your power to never become a victim,” she said.

And tracking all contacts, even within the medical setting, is complicated.

Generally, the first step in locating care providers for isolated infected patients is a personnel log on the door, “that should have everyone going in and out, signing in and out,” said Dr. Lisa Esolen, Geisinger Health System’s Medical Director of Health Services and Infection Prevention and Control. Medical records indicate the Dallas hospital had a log.

On the day before Duncan died, records indicate that at least nine caregivers entered and exited the room.

A spokesman for Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, said the CDC probably has a log from the room door that would list everyone who got close to Duncan.

Dr. Christopher Ohl, who heads Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center’s infectious-disease department and has worked with the CDC in the past, said the expanding monitoring “is an abundance of caution that’s probably beyond what needs to be done” because medical caregivers will notice if they’re getting a fever, and they’re not contagious until that point.

“You start to know when you get those body aches and headaches, most people know that,” he said. “It’s not like you’re surprised by it. Most people can figure out what to do when that happens.”

TIME North Korea

KCNA: North Korean Leader Makes Public Appearance

Update: Oct. 14, 6:24 a.m. ET

(SEOUL, South Korea) — After vanishing from the public eye for nearly six weeks, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is back, ending rumors that he was gravely ill, deposed or worse.

Now, a new, albeit smaller, mystery has emerged: Why the cane?

Kim, who was last seen publicly at a Sept. 3 concert, appeared in images released by state media Tuesday smiling broadly and supporting himself with a walking stick while touring the newly built Wisong Scientists Residential District and another new institute in Pyongyang, part of his regular “field guidance” tours. The North didn’t say when the visit happened, nor did it address the leader’s health.

Kim’s appearance allowed the country’s massive propaganda apparatus to continue doing what it does best — glorify the third generation of Kim family rule. And it will tamp down, at least for the moment, rampant rumors of a coup and serious health problems.

Before Tuesday, Kim missed several high-profile events that he normally attends and was described in an official documentary last month as experiencing “discomfort.”

Archive footage from August showed him overweight and limping, prompting the South Korean media to speculate he had undergone surgery on his ankles. Some experts thought he was suffering from gout or diabetes.

A South Korean analyst said Kim probably broke his media silence to dispel outside speculation that he wasn’t in control and to win sympathy from a domestic audience by creating the image of a leader who works through pain.

The appearance may be a form of “emotional politics meant to appeal to the North Korean people’s sympathy,” said Cheong Seong-chang, at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea.

It was the first time a North Korean leader allowed himself to be seen relying on a cane or crutch, South Korean officials said. Kim’s father, Kim Jong Il, who reportedly suffered a stroke in 2008 before dying of a heart attack in late 2011, was seen limping but never with a walking stick, nor was the country’s founder and Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, Kim Il Sung, said Lim Byeong Cheol, a spokesman from Seoul’s Unification Ministry.

Cheong said Kim appeared in the recently released images to have lost about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) compared to pictures from May. He speculated that since Kim was holding a cane on his left side he may have had surgery on his left ankle.

Kim “appears to want to show people that he’s doing fine, though he’s indeed still having some discomfort. If he hadn’t done so, excessive speculation would have continued to flare up and anxiety among North Korean residents would have grown and calls by outsiders for contingency plans on dealing with North Korea would have gotten momentum,” Cheong said.

The South Korean government has all along seen no signals of any major problems.

In deciding to resume his public activity before fully recovering from his condition, Kim was looking to quickly quell rumors that his health problems were serious enough to threaten his status as North Korean leader, said Lim, the government spokesman.

“The cane aside, he looked to be in good health,” Lim said.

The recent absence was, in part, “probably an attention-getting device — and it certainly works,” Bruce Cumings, an expert on Korea at the University of Chicago, said in an email.

“The North has been on a diplomatic offensive in Europe and elsewhere, it feels isolated — and is, if we’re talking about relations with Washington,” he wrote. “All this puts them back on the front page.”

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AP writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung contributed to this story from Seoul.

Read next: Sorry, North Korea Conspiracists: Kim Jong Un Is Probably Just Sick

TIME South Africa

Psychologist Says Pistorius Is a ‘Broken Man’

Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria
Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius attends his sentencing hearing at the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria, South Africa on Oct. 13, 2014. Marco Longari—Pool/Reuters

The "Blade Runner" is awaiting sentencing for his culpable homicide conviction

(PRETORIA, South Africa) — Oscar Pistorius is a “broken man” after killing girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp because he lost the woman he said he loved as well as his reputation, friends, income and sense of self-worth, a psychologist called by his lawyers testified Monday.

Dr. Lore Hartzenberg gave the testimony ahead of the runner’s sentencing for culpable homicide, and it was almost immediately characterized by the chief prosecutor as unbalanced.

Hartzenberg said the double-amputee runner had sometimes cried, retched, perspired and paced up and down during meetings in which she tried to assist him.

The testimony was part of an effort by the runner’s legal team to persuade Judge Thokozile Masipa that Pistorius has suffered emotionally and materially for what he said was an accident and that he is remorseful. The team hopes the judge will be lenient when she sentences Pistorius after what is expected to be about a week of legal argument and testimony.

Pistorius, once a celebrated athlete who ran in the 2012 Olympics, was charged with premeditated murder but Masipa instead found him guilty last month of the lesser charge of culpable homicide. Sentences for that conviction can range from a suspended sentence and a fine to as many as 15 years in prison.

“We are left with a broken man who has lost everything,” Hartzenberg said during her testimony.

Prosecutor Gerrie Nel criticized her findings, saying Pistorius would likely have the chance to rebuild his life.

Several police officers stood guard on the dais where the judge sat amid concerns about her security. Masipa drew criticism from some South Africans who thought Pistorius could at least have been convicted of a lesser murder charge on the grounds that he knew a person could die when he fired four bullets through a toilet door in his home early on Valentine’s Day last year.

Steenkamp, a 29-year-old model, died in the hail of bullets, and prosecutors said Pistoriushad opened fire in anger after the couple argued. The runner testified that he mistook Steenkamp for an intruder who was about to come out of the toilet and attack him.

Hartzenberg, who described herself as an expert in trauma counseling, said she first met withPistorius on Feb. 25 last year, 11 days after the shooting death of Steenkamp, and had been counselling him since then.

“Some of the sessions were just him weeping and crying and me holding him,” Hartzenberg said, describing Pistorius as overcome with grief and guilt that he had caused Steenkamp’s death.

She said the shooting and Pistorius’ lengthy and high-profile murder trial meant the athlete had also suffered severe loss. He had lost Steenkamp, his “moral and professional reputation,” many of his friends, his career and his financial independence, she said.

“I can confirm his remorse and pain to be geunine,” she said.

Responding to Hartzenberg’s description of a broken man, prosecutor Nel asked the psychologist about Steenkamp’s family.

“Would you not expect a broken family?” Nel asked, saying Steenkamp’s father Barry had suffered a stroke as a result of the killing of his daughter.

Nel said Pistorius also had the opportunity to return to his life and his track career.

“We are now dealing with a broken man, but he is still alive,” the prosecutor said.

Hartzenberg was the first witness called by Pistorius’ defense lawyers to argue in mitigation of sentencing. Defense lawyer Barry Roux said he would likely call four witnesses during the sentencing hearing. Prosecutor Nel said the state would call at least two, with the hearing expected to last a week.

There is no minimum sentence in South Africa for culpable homicide or negligent killing, although some experts say a five-year jail sentence is a guideline when a firearm is used.

Read next: Pistorius and South Africa’s Culture of Violence

TIME russia

Putin Orders Troops Away From Ukraine Border

The withdrawal may be a sign of goodwill ahead of Putin's trip to Milan on Thursday

(MOSCOW) — Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered thousands of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border to return to their usual bases, according to his spokesman.

Dmitry Peskov told Russian news outlets late Saturday in Sochi that Putin had ordered approximately 17,600 troops to return home from Rostov, a southern region that borders east Ukraine, where pro-Russian insurgents have been battling government troops since April.

The Kremlin has said that troops stationed in Rostov were participating in drills, but Ukraine and the West have repeatedly accused Russia of fueling the insurgency with arms, expertise, and fighters, and have slapped Moscow with sanctions in response to its moves in the region.

Previous Russian claims of troop withdrawals have been countered by NATO. In March, Russia announced a troop withdrawal of only one battalion — a unit of about 500 — while NATO insisted that tens of thousands remained near the border.

In the spring, the U.S. and NATO said that Russia had deployed about 40,000 troops near the border, though Putin ordered the troops back to their home bases in late May. While the U.S. and NATO did confirm those moves, in August they said Russia was again bolstering its forces in the region and that Russia had allowed troops and vehicles to cross the border to assist the separatists.

The withdrawal may be a sign of good will ahead of Putin’s trip to Milan on Thursday, where he is set to meet with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and European Union leaders.

As EU and U.S. sanctions against Russia begin to bite and economic growth falters, Moscow may also hope that a troop withdrawal will bolster the chance that Western nations will revoke those measures. Late last month, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the EU was still not considering removing the sanctions because of ongoing fighting in east Ukraine.

In Donetsk, the city center was quiet but explosions still rang out in the direction of the airport, where fighting between government troops and pro-Russian forces has waged despite a cease-fire declared Sept. 5.

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Mstyslav Chernov in Donetsk, Ukraine, contributed reporting.

TIME Bolivia

Quick Count: Bolivia’s Morales Coasts to 3rd Term

BOLIVIA-ELECTION-MORALES
Bolivian President and candidate for re-election Evo Morales votes in Villa 14, Chapare, Bolivia, on Oct. 12, 2014 Aizar Raldes—AFP/Getty Images

Morales has capitalized on his everyman image while his Movement Toward Socialism party has consolidated control over state institutions

(LA PAZ, Bolivia) — Evo Morales easily won an unprecedented third term as Bolivia’s president Sunday on the strength of the economic and political stability brought by his government, according to an unofficial quick count of the vote.

Morales, a native Aymara from Bolivia’s poor, wind-swept Andean plateau, received 59.5 percent of the vote against 25.3 percent for cement magnate Samuel Doria Medina, the top vote-getter among four challengers, according to a quick count of 84 percent of the voting booths by the Ipsos company for ATB television.

If confirmed by partial official results expected after midnight local time Sunday (0400 GMT), it would give Morales an outright victory without the need for a second round of voting.

As the unofficial results were announced, Morales’ supporters ran out into the streets to celebrate the win.

While known internationally for his anti-imperialist and socialist rhetoric, the 55-year-old coca growers’ union leader is widely popular at home for a pragmatic economic stewardship that spread Bolivia’s natural gas and mineral wealth among the masses.

A boom in commodities prices increased export revenues nine-fold and the country has accumulated $15.5 billion in international reserves. Economic growth has averaged 5 percent annually, well above the regional average.

A half a million people have put poverty behind them since Bolivia’s first indigenous president first took office in 2006, with per capital gross national income up from $1,000 that year to $2,550 in 2013, according to the World Bank.

Public works projects abound, including a satellite designed to deliver Internet to rural schools, a fertilizer plant and La Paz’s gleaming new cable car system. His newest promise: to light up La Paz with nuclear power.

“I voted for Evo Morales because he doesn’t forget the elderly,” said Maria Virginia Velasquez, a 70-year-old widow. Universal old-age pensions — Velasquez gets $36 a month — are among the benefits instituted by Morales that have boosted his popularity.

Morales had sought Sunday to improve on his previous best showing — 64 percent in 2009 — and to maintain a two-thirds control of Bolivia’s Senate and assembly. That would let him change the constitution, which restricts presidents to two 5-year terms, so he can run again.

He has not said whether he would seek a fourth term, only that he would “respect the constitution.” He did say in a TV interview last week, however, that he didn’t believe people over the age of 60 should be president.

A court ruled last year that Morales could run for a third term because his first preceded a constitutional rewrite. All seats are up for grabs in the 36-member Senate and 130-member lower house.

Morales’ critics say he spent tens of millions in government money on his campaign, giving him an unfair advantage. And press freedom advocates accuse him of gradually silencing critical media by letting government allies buy them out, a formula also employed by the ruling heirs in Venezuela of the late Hugo Chavez.

Morales didn’t attend the campaign’s lone presidential debate and state TV didn’t broadcast it.

“There is no functional opposition, left, right or otherwise,” said Jim Shultz, executive director of the left-leaning Democracy Center based in Bolivia and San Francisco.

Morales has capitalized on his everyman image while his Movement Toward Socialism party has consolidated control over state institutions. He long ago crushed and splintered the opposition, nationalized key utilities and renegotiating natural gas contracts to give the government a bigger share of profits.

His image-makers have built a cult of personality around him. Stadiums, markets, schools, state enterprises and even a village bear Morales’ name. In the center of the capital, crews are building a second presidential palace, a 20-story center complete with a heliport.

Yet Morales has alienated environmentalists and many former indigenous allies by promoting mining and a planned jungle highway through an indigenous reserve.

And despite Bolivia’s economic advancements, it is still among South America’s poorest countries. Nearly one in five Bolivians lives on less than a dollar a day.

Many analysts think Bolivia depends too much on natural resources and is especially susceptible to the current easing in commodities demand from China.

“Evo’s balancing act will be increasingly tough to maintain,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Washington-based Inter-American Dialogue think tank. “Although Evo has proven to be a resourceful and resilient politician, who knows his country well, it would be surprising if the next five years go as swimmingly as the last five.”

Morales’ dreams of converting its lithium reserves into battery factories have yet to be realized, as are plans to create a major iron foundry.

The underground cocaine economy gets credit for part of the economic boom. Peru’s former drug czar, Ricardo Soberon, estimates its annual revenues at $2.3 billion, equal to about 7 percent of gross domestic product.

Morales promotes coca’s traditional uses and claims zero tolerance for cocaine.

The United States deems Bolivia uncooperative in the war on drugs and has halted trade preferences and cut all counter-narcotics aid. Morales expelled the U.S. ambassador and Drug Enforcement Administration in 2008, accusing them of inciting the opposition.

Last year he threw out the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Ronald Velasquez, a 38-year-old computer specialist, said he voted for Morales because he didn’t trust any of the other candidates. He said he trusts Morales but the president “is surrounded by bad associates.”

“He has had a lot of problems in his government with corruption and influence-peddling,” Velasquez said.

Macario Chambi, a 54-year-old street vendor, said he would not vote for Morales, whose ruling clique he believes is getting rich off the economic bonanza without instituting the type of reforms that will actually create wealth.

“He thinks we’re all sheep, that we don’t realize that they want to buy us with cheap sweets.”

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Associated Press writers Paola Flores contributed from La Paz and Frank Bajak from Lima, Peru.

TIME LGBT

Federal Judge Strikes Down Alaska’s Gay-Marriage Ban

Gay Marriage-Alaska
Lin Davis, of Juneau, Alaska, shown wearing an orange rain coat, holds signs supporting gay marriage during a news conference Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, outside the federal courthouse in Anchorage, Alaska. Mark Thiessen—AP

Update: Oct. 13, 6:21 a.m. ET

(ANCHORAGE, Alaska) — A federal judge on Sunday struck down Alaska’s first-in-the-nation ban on gay marriages, the latest court decision in a busy week for the issue.

The state of Alaska will begin accepting those applications first thing Monday morning, Phillip Mitchell, with the state Department of Vital Statistics, told The Associated Press in an email. Alaska has a three-day waiting period between between applications and marriage ceremonies.

The late Sunday afternoon decision caught many people off guard. No rallies were immediately planned, but some plaintiffs celebrated over drinks at an Anchorage bar.

Matthew Hamby, who along with his husband Christopher Shelden was one of five couples to sue, was “just having drinks with friends, enjoying it.”

He said he was “elated” U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess sided with them, and he planned to among the first in line to apply for a license Monday.

“This is just an amazing day for Alaska. We’re just so fortunate that so many have fought for equality for so long — I mean, decades,” said Susan Tow, who along with her wife, Chris Laborde, were among couples who sought to overturn Alaska’s ban.

Earlier in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear appeals from several states that were seeking to retain their bans on same-sex marriage.

The move on Oct. 6 means that gay marriage is now effectively legal in about 30 states. But much of last week was marked by confusion as lower courts and states worked through when weddings can begin.

On Tuesday, a federal appeals court in the West overturned marriage bans in Nevada and Idaho. On Thursday, West Virginia officials began issuing gay marriage licenses, and Kansas’ most populous county issued a marriage license Friday to a gay couple, believed to be the first such license in the state.

Sunday’s ruling in Alaska came in a lawsuit brought by five gay couples who had asked the state in May to overturn a constitutional amendment approved by voters in 1998. The amendment defined marriage as being between one man and one woman.

The lawsuit sought to bar enforcement of Alaska’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. It also called for barring enforcement of any state laws that refuse to recognize gay marriages legally performed in other states or countries or that prevent unmarried gay couples from marrying.

Burgess heard arguments Friday afternoon and promised a quick decision. He released his 25-page decision Sunday afternoon.

“Refusing the rights and responsibilities afforded by legal marriage sends the public a government-sponsored message that same-sex couples and their familial relationships do not warrant the status, benefits and dignity given to couples of the opposite sex,” Burgess wrote.

“This Court finds that Alaska’s same-sex marriage laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment because no state interest provides ‘excessively persuasive justification’ for the significant infringement of rights that they inflicted upon homosexual individuals,” he wrote.

Gov. Sean Parnell said in a statement Sunday he was appealing to defend and uphold the law and the Alaska Constitution.

“Although the district court today may have been bound by the recent 9th Circuit panel opinion, the status of that opinion and the law in general in this area is in flux,” he said.

State lawyers were reviewing Burgess decision and working on the next steps to appeal.

Joshua Decker, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alaska, said Alaska has no legal chance of prevailing at either the 9th Circuit Court or with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“It’s really unfortunate the governor wants to continue to swim against the tide of history and try to perpetuate discrimination against Alaskans,” said Decker. “We’re disappointed but that’s not going to dampen our elation.”

Hamby said the appeal was “ridiculous and futile.”

He also called it misguided “because it continues to injure same-sex couples who love each other and just want to get married.”

If the state does appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, chances of winning were slim since the federal appeals court already has ruled against Idaho and Nevada, which made similar arguments.

Alaska voters in 1998 approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. But in the past year, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act that prevented legally married same-sex couples from receiving a range of federal benefits. Federal courts also have since struck down state constitutional bans in a number of states.

The plaintiffs are Hamby and Shelden; Laborde and Tow; Sean Egan and David Robinson; Tracey Wiese and Katrina Cortez; and Courtney Lamb and Stephanie Pearson. Lamb and Pearson are unmarried.

Tow on Sunday said she was happy for the children of Alaska gay couples who will now see their parents recognized.

“We never thought we’d see this in our lives,” she said.

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Associated Press writer Rachel D’Oro contributed to this report.

TIME Military

U.S. Says Turkey OKs Use of Bases Against Militants

Turkey Syria
Thick smoke, debris and fire rise following an airstrike by the US-led coalition in Kobani, Syria as fighting intensified between Syrian Kurds and the militants of Islamic State group, as seen from Mursitpinar on the outskirts of Suruc, at the Turkey-Syria border, Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014. Lefteris Pitarakis—AP

(AREQUIPA, Peru) — Turkey will let U.S. and coalition forces use its bases, including a key installation within 100 miles of the Syrian border, for operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq, American defense officials said Sunday.

But progress in negotiations with Turkey — including Ankara’s agreement to train several thousand Syrian moderate rebels — may not be enough to stop the massacre of civilians in Syria’s border town of Kobani, where intense fighting continues.

The Obama administration had been pressing Ankara to play a larger role against the extremists, who have taken control of large swaths of Syria and Iraq, including territory on Turkey’s border, and sent refugees fleeing into Turkey.

U.S. officials confirmed Saturday that Ankara had agreed to train Syrian moderate forces on Turkish soil. A Turkish government official said Sunday that Turkey put the number at 4,000 opposition fighters and said they would be screened by Turkish intelligence.

Also Sunday, officials confirmed that Turkey agreed to let U.S. and coalition fighter aircraft launch operations against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria from Turkish bases, including Incirlik Air Base in the south. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who has been traveling in South America, has said the U.S. wanted access to the Turkish bases.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss private talks between the Americans and Turks.

As fighting continued in the Kurdish town of Kobani, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged the tenuous situation. Speaking in Cairo, Kerry said the defense of Kobani does not define the international counterterrorism strategy.

Islamic State militants have taken parts of Kobani, Kerry indicated, but not all of it. The United Nations has warned of mass casualties if the border town falls.

“There will be ups and there will be downs over the next days as there are in any kind of conflict,” Kerry said at the conclusion of an international aid conference for the Gaza Strip.

Elaborating on a theme the Obama administration has zeroed in on in recent days, Kerry said the U.S. has been realistic about how quickly it will prevail against the Islamic State militants. Officials have spoken of years of counterterrorism efforts ahead.

U.S. and coalition aircraft have been bombarding the territory in and around Kobani for days, launching airstrikes on dozens of locations and taking out militants, weapons and other targets.

The enclave has been the scene of heavy fighting since late last month, with heavily armed Islamic State fighters determined to deal a symbolic blow to the coalition air campaign.

U.S. Central Command said warplanes from the United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates launched airstrikes on four locations in Syria on Saturday and Sunday, including three in Kobani that destroyed an Islamic State fighting position and staging area.

Beyond the training and bases, there are other issues the U.S. hopes Turkey will agree to. U.S. officials have not said what all of those would be because discussions are continuing.

Earlier Sunday, President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, Susan Rice, made clear the U.S. has not asked “the Turks to send ground forces of their own into Syria.”

American officials are “continuing to talk to the Turks about other ways that they can play an important role. They are already essential to trying to prevent the flow of foreign fighters” and prevent extremists from exporting oil through Turkey. “So Turkey has many ways it can contribute,” Rice told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Hagel spoke by telephone Sunday with Turkey’s defense minister, Ismet Yilmaz, and thanked him for his country’s willingness to assist in the fight.

Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said Hagel “noted Turkey’s expertise in this area and the responsible manner in which Turkey is handling the other challenges this struggle has placed upon the country, in terms of refugees and border security.”

Turkey and other American allies are pressing the U.S. to create a no-fly zone inside Syrian territory, and seeking creation of a secure buffer on the Syrian side of the border with Turkey. A “safe zone” would require Americans and their partners to protect ground territory and patrol the sky.

Hagel has said American leaders are open to discussing a safe zone, but creating one isn’t “actively being considered.”

Alongside Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Kerry said at a news conference in Cairo that Kobani is “one community and it is a tragedy what is happening there.”

The primary focus of the fight against the Islamic State group has been in Iraq, where the U.S. is working to help shore up Iraqi Security Forces, who were overrun in many places by the militants. In Syria, the U.S. is starting by going after the extremists’ infrastructure and sources of revenue.

In the meantime, Kerry said, the Islamic State group “has the opportunity to take advantage of that particular buildup, as they are doing. But I’d rather have our hand than theirs.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has estimated it would require hundreds of U.S. aircraft and cost as much as $1 billion a month to maintain an area in Syria safe from attacks by the Islamic State group and Syria’s air force, with no assurance of a change in battlefield momentum toward ending the Syrian civil war.

“Do I anticipate that there could be circumstances in the future where that would be part of the campaign? Yeah,” Dempsey told ABC’s “This Week.”

TIME Syria

Battle Rages for Syria Town Under ISIS Assault

SURUC, Turkey — The shells were already roaring down on the Kurdish fighters from the hill above Kobani when more than 30 Islamic State militants backed by snipers and pickups mounted with heavy machine guns began their assault across the dusty fields.

Holed up in an industrial area of squat, concrete buildings on Kobani’s eastern edges, the outgunned Kurds could do little to repel the attack, recalled Dalil Boras, one of the defenders during the Oct. 6 assault. The Islamic State group’s firepower proved too much, so the Kurds withdrew through the gray streets to a tree-lined park, ceding a foothold in the town to the extremist fighters, who promptly raised two black flags over their newly conquered territory.

A week later, the Kurdish men and women of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, are still holding out, if barely, with a helping hand from more than 20 airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State positions.

They have been battered by tanks shells and mortars, and picked off by snipers using American-made rifles. They have no answer for the heavy weapons that Islamic State fighters have looted from Iraqi and Syrian army bases. And while they are slowly yielding ground, they so far have prevented the town from being overrun, defending it zealously with little more than light weapons, booby-traps and a fervent belief in their cause.

Along the way, the predominantly Kurdish town along Syria’s border with Turkey has been transformed from a dusty backwater into a symbol of resistance for Kurds around the world. It also has grabbed the international media spotlight, which has helped turn the defense of Kobani into a very public test for the American-led international effort to roll back and ultimately destroy the Islamic State group.

The battle itself is now playing out in Kobani’s streets and alleyways — a fight being watched by scores of Syrian and Turkish Kurds, as well as dozens of journalists, through binoculars from hilltops and farms just across the border in Turkey.

From that vantage point, the town spreads out among the rocky hills and brown fields just beyond the frontier. Plumes of black smoke billow over the low-slung skyline. The occasional thud of mortar shells mixes with the clatter of heavy machine guns and assault rifles.

Kurdish fighters and civilians who have recently fled describe a much grittier scene inside the town. Both of the warring sides have knocked holes in walls to move between buildings — a tactic employed in urban fighting for decades. On cross streets, blankets have been hung to limit exposure to snipers. Rubble litters the streets. Smoke hangs in the air. The few remaining civilians have sought shelter in basements.

Boras, a short and stocky 19-year-old dressed in dusty black jeans and a black T-shirt, explained how Kurdish fighters are organized into small groups of sometimes as few as five or six people, who stake out positions on the front lines. Teams with rocket-propelled grenades and Russian-designed machine guns known here as “Doshkas” have taken up positions in the upper stories of some buildings to maximize the Kurds’ limited firepower.

“We are communicating with walkie-talkies,” Boras said recently during a three-day break from the fight. “We tell them on our walkie-talkie that they’re attacking and we throw a red smoke bomb to show the position of the attack, and then the machine guns and RPGs provide support.”

Kurdish men and women fighters spread out on the various fronts are mainly armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles and grenades. They carry backpacks with ammunition, biscuits and canned beans and hummus, and when they run low they call into headquarters.

“We have special words for martyrs, wounded, ammunition and food on the walkie-talkie,” Boras said. They frequently switch frequencies to avoid being spied on over the airwaves.

Since the Islamic State group first moved into Kobani’s eastern districts on Oct. 6, the fighting has developed a familiar rhythm, the Kurds say: The extremists own the day, while the Kurdish forces rule after sundown when the Islamic State’s heavy weapons can’t effectively target Kurdish positions.

“At night, we go out on missions to hunt them down. During the day they put pressure on us,” said Boras. “We watch during the day to see where they are. And then if there’s a street that needs it, we plant roadside bombs to hit them with during the day.”

With limited resources, the Kurds have had to improvise. Boras recalled on one occasion packing a truck tire with explosives and then rolling it down the hill toward Islamic State fighters, destroying a machine gun post.

As the fighting has ground down in the thick of the town, the front lines in some places have narrowed to just a few meters (yards), said Aladeen Ali Kor, a Kobani policeman now volunteering in a refugee camp in the Turkish town of Suruc while he recovers from a shrapnel wound to the back of his neck.

“There are some places where you’re basically across the street from them. Like from here to the back of the gas station there,” he said, pointing across the busy main road in Suruc. “Fighters on both sides yell and taunt each other. We say we’ll never let you in. They yell at us that they’ll never let us out alive.”

Kor, a stout 36-year-old with a tightly-cropped brown beard flecked with gray, said most of the Islamic State fighters captured by the YPG are Syrian, although there are also many Turks, Chechens and Yemenis mixed in among them.

At one point, he pulled back the white hand towel rolled up on his neck to show the three stitches and swollen wound. He was out on a patrol, he said, when a mortar round slammed into a building nearby, followed by a second that hit the street.

“Another guy was wounded in the leg and belly, and two guys were killed,” he said. “I didn’t pass out, but I was dazed. Friends took me to an ambulance. There was blood everywhere.”

Most of Kobani’s wounded are brought to the hospital in Suruc. Two emergency room nurses taking a short break recounted the chaos of the past few weeks.

“We usually see 25-30 wounded a day. They are serious injuries. Mostly from gunshots and shrapnel,” said one of the nurses who only identified himself as Mehmet. The nurses estimated that 70 percent of the wounded are fighters, while the rest are civilians.

For now at least, the heart of Kobani remains in Kurdish hands, although their grip appears tenuous at best. With so much attention on the town, neither side can relent. Activists say the Islamic State group has rushed in reinforcements, while small numbers of Kurds continue to sneak across the border to join the fight.

One of them is Boras. Reached by telephone late Saturday night, he said he had slipped back into Kobani and returned to the front. Having already lost his father and a brother fighting the Islamic State, he said he sees no alternative but to make his stand there.

“Either Kobani will fall and I will die, or we will win,” he said.

TIME Accident

1 Dead, 20 Injured in Maine Hayride Crash

APTOPIX Hayride Accident
Emergency personnel work at the site of a hayride rollover that injured multiple people Harvest Hill Farms in Mechanic Falls on Route 126, Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014. Gaabe Souza—Maine Today/AP

MECHANIC FALLS, Maine — Investigators are blaming a mechanical problem for the Halloween hayride crash that left a Maine teen dead and more than 20 other people hurt.

The state fire marshal’s office says the problem caused the vehicle towing the hay wagon not to stop before it careened down a hill and struck a tree Saturday night.

Officials say 17-year-old Cassidy Charette of Oakland was killed in the crash. Sgt. Joel Davis of the fire marshal’s office says she was with a group of friends who travel to the farm in Mechanic Falls every autumn.

Davis says the investigation is still ongoing and results will be forward to the district attorney to determine if there is criminal liability.

Davis says about a half-dozen people remained hospitalized Sunday. Their injuries don’t appear life-threatening.

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