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Tens of thousands of New Yorkers marched on Sunday to celebrate the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriages. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the legislation Friday night shortly after the Republican-controlled State Senate passed the measure in a 33-29 vote. New York becomes the sixth state in the nation—and by far the most populous—to legalize same-sex marriages. At Sunday’s Pride march in New York City, Heather and Leah Griffin celebrated the passage of the new law.
Heather Griffin, New York resident: “It’s just great to be able to get married in our own home state. We have both lived here our whole lives, and it just means so much that our state actually recognizes us as people and as a couple.”
Leah Griffin, New York resident: “It’s a validation of who we are.”
The Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico has been shut down for the day due to a fast-moving wildfire that is endangering the lab and surrounding area. The fire began around 12 miles southwest of Los Alamos, charring about 6,000 acres. Fire officials say none of the fire is under control yet. Lawrence Lujan of the Santa Fe National Forest said, “We have homes and we have the labs, so it’s a very, very big concern, not only locally, but nationally and globally.”
Floodwater from the Missouri River have surrounded parts of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power facility in Nebraska after the collapse of an eight-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long inflatable berm early on Sunday. Emergency generators were needed to power the plant until an off-site power supply was connected Sunday afternoon. The plant has been shut down since April. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Gregory Jaczko is scheduled to visit the site today. On Sunday, Jaczko visited another nuclear plant in Nebraska threatened by flooding of the Missouri River.
The International Criminal Court has issued arrest warrants for Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi and two of his confidants for crimes against humanity. Gaddafi is wanted for orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of a popular uprising to topple him from power after more than four decades, and for trying to cover up the alleged crimes. Gaddafi becomes only the second sitting head of state indicted by the ICC in the court’s nine-year history. Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir was indicted in 2009. In addition to Gaddafi, arrest warrants were issued for his second-eldest son, Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi.
The Independent of London reports human rights organizations are beginning to cast doubt on some of the claims of atrocities committed by forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gaddafi that were used to justify NATO’s war in Libya. Gaddafi’s regime was accused of ordering mass rapes, using foreign mercenaries and employing helicopters against civilian protesters. An investigation by Amnesty International has failed to find evidence for any of these human rights violations. The Independent of London also found indications that on several occasions the rebels in Benghazi appeared to have knowingly made false claims or manufactured evidence.
Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio has revealed that NATO commander U.S. Admiral Samuel Locklear has confirmed to him that the United States and NATO forces are actively trying to assassinate Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi in defiance of the U.N. authorization. Locklear also reportedly told Turner that NATO is considering sending in ground troops to Libya.
In Yemen, tens of thousands of protesters filled the streets on Sunday to demand that a transitional council be formed to replace embattled President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh left Yemen earlier this month, shortly after he was injured in an attack on his presidential compound. Protesters demanded Saleh not return home and that his sons and relatives leave Yemen.
Kawthar Al Matari, protester: “The crisis is gas and oil. It is not a crisis of the revolution. This is a revolution, not a crisis. The youth is still in the squares, and we have one aim, and that is to overthrow the regime.”
In news from Africa, the Pentagon is planning to send nearly $45 million in military equipment, including four small drones, to Uganda and Burundi as part of the U.S. effort to battle Islamic militants in Somalia. The military package includes four small, shoulder-launched Raven drones, body armor, night-vision gear, communications and heavy construction equipment, generators and surveillance systems. The U.S. military is also sending aid to a number of other African nations including Mauritania, Djibouti, Kenya and Mali.
Funerals have begun in Afghanistan for the 38 people who died on Saturday in a massive bomb blast at a hospital in the eastern Logar province. The dead included pregnant women, children, doctors and nurses. It has been described as the deadliest attack on a medical facility in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. Afghan officials blamed the attack on the Taliban, but the group denied it.
Tension is rising between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has accused Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into eastern Afghanistan over the past three weeks. Afghan officials say the rocket attacks have killed 36 people, including 12 children. Pakistan has denied the charges. Meanwhile, in recent weeks 55 Pakistani security forces have been killed and another 80 wounded in attacks from the Afghan side of the border.
In Iraq, two U.S. soldiers died Sunday, bringing the month’s death toll to 11—the highest in more than two years.
In Peru, thousands of anti-mining protesters took control of an airport in the southern region of Puno Saturday, one day after riot police killed five activists. Hours before the occupation took place, departing president Alan Garcia revoked the license of Canadian mining firm Bear Creek in an attempt to convince local residents to end protests that have dragged on for more than a month. The mining company has said it would sue the Peruvian government to get its concession back. Local indigenous groups have demanded the right to approve or deny mining operations in their communities and denounced the companies over concerns of pollution. Protesters said they would continue to resist the mining industry.
Protester: “Those people who have died have relatives; they have children. It isn’t possible that all of this is happening here. We are going to offer up our lives. It’s not possible that they kill all of us just for defending the Ramis River from contamination.”
Newly disclosed figures and internal documents are raising fresh doubts about natural gas drilling in the United States. According to the New York Times, well-placed financial analysts and experts have circulated warnings about the feasibility and profitability of drilling in shale gas wells across the nation. An August 2009 memo from the firm IHS Drilling Data says, “The word in the world of independents is that the shale plays are just giant Ponzi schemes and the economics just do not work.” Earlier this year, an analyst at PNC Wealth Management compared natural gas projects to the dot-com boom, saying, “money is pouring in” even though drilling is “inherently unprofitable.” In another memo, a retired geologist for a major oil giant writes, “These corporate giants are having an Enron moment… They want to bend light to hide the truth.” A review of more than 9,000 wells shows many wells are failing to meet industry projections, with just 10 percent recouping their estimated costs after seven years. Just 20 percent of wells in three highly regarded shale formations in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas are believed to actually be profitable. The previously undisclosed data could raise questions about whether companies are illegally inflating claims about the size and productivity of their wells. A former Enron executive who went on to work for an energy company compared the behavior of shale gas firms to his former employer, writing, “I wonder when they will start telling people these wells are just not what they thought they were going to be?”
The Wisconsin has been rocked by allegations that a conservative member of the state Supreme Court recently tried to choke a fellow justice during an argument earlier this month. Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Justice David Prosser put her in a chokehold during the dispute in her chambers. The argument reportedly took place on June 13th, one day before the court ruled in a 4-to-3 decision to reinstate Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s union-busting law curbing collective bargaining. Prosser has denied the claim.