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LGBTQ Weddings, Pride Celebrations Follow Historic Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage Equality

Jun 29, 2015

Same-sex weddings took place across the country this weekend after the Supreme Court ruled that all 50 states must now permit LGBTQ couples “the fundamental right to marry.” The historic decision puts an end to marriage equality bans that remained in 14 states, impacting tens of thousands of couples. The plaintiff in the case, Jim Obergefell, celebrated the victory.

Jim Obergefell: “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across this country already know to be true in our hearts: Our love is equal, that the four words etched onto the front of the Supreme Court, 'equal justice under law,' apply to us, too. It’s my hope that the term 'gay marriage' will soon be a thing of the past, that from this day forward it will simply be 'marriage,' and our nation will be better off because of it.”

Obergefell’s home state of Ohio had refused to recognize his marriage on the death certificate of his late husband, John Arthur. Friday’s ruling coincided with Pride Day events across the country this weekend, drawing hundreds of thousands of people to the streets in celebration.

Funerals for Church Massacre Victims Continue; Obama Calls for Tackling Racial Bias

Jun 29, 2015

Funerals continue in South Carolina for the African-American victims of the massacre at Emanuel AME Church. Laid to rest this weekend were Cynthia Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Tywanza Sanders and the Reverend DePayne Middleton-Doctor. On Friday, President Obama delivered the eulogy at the funeral for South Carolina State Senator and Reverend Clementa Pinckney, the pastor of Emanuel AME. In his address, Obama urged the nation to tackle racial bias and inequities in the political, economic and judicial system.

President Obama: “For too long, we’ve been blind to the way past injustices continue to shape the present. Perhaps we see that now. Perhaps this tragedy causes us to ask some tough questions about how we can permit so many of our children to languish in poverty or attend dilapidated schools or grow up without prospects for a job or for a career. Perhaps it causes us to examine what we’re doing to cause some of our children to hate. Perhaps it softens hearts towards those lost young men, tens and tens of thousands caught up in the criminal justice system, and lead us to make sure that that system is not infected with bias.”

President Obama closed his address by leading the crowd in a version of “Amazing Grace.”

Activist Arrested After Scaling Flagpole, Removing Confederate Flag from State Capitol

Jun 29, 2015

The following day, a 30-year-old African-American woman was arrested at the state Capitol after scaling the 30-foot flagpole and unhooking the Confederate flag. As police officers shouted at her to come down, Bree Newsome shimmied to the top, took the flag in her hand and said, “You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. I come against you in the name of God. This flag comes down today.” The action went viral and was seen around the world.

Greece Closes Banks, Calls Referendum on European Austerity Demands

Jun 29, 2015

Greece’s standoff with international creditors has intensified with emergency banking measures and a plan to put austerity demands to a popular vote. Over the weekend, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced a national referendum for next Sunday on whether the country should accept the terms of a new international bailout. European creditors want Greece to accept an austerity package in exchange for new loans that would help it avoid a default. The European Central Bank followed by rejecting Greece’s request to extend an emergency loan program until after the vote. In response, Tsipras announced the closure of Greek banks and the stock market, as well as restrictions on bank transfers. Tsipras called the rejection of a loan extension “blackmail.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras: “It is more than obvious that this decision has no other purpose but to blackmail the Greek people and to obstruct the smooth democratic processes of the referendum. One thing is certain: The rejection of the request for a short extension and the attempt to cancel a democratic process is an insult and a shame for the democratic traditions of Europe.”

Tspipras has urged voters to reject the bailout terms, saying creditors want Greece “to abandon our dignity.” Greek banks will remain closed until after Sunday’s referendum. Bank machines are reopening today with withdrawal limits of around $66. Greece faces a Tuesday deadline to make a $1.8 billion payment to the IMF or face a default.

Iran Nuclear Talks to Miss Tuesday Deadline

Jun 29, 2015

The Iran nuclear talks are likely to miss Tuesday’s deadline for a comprehensive agreement. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has returned to Iran to discuss a final negotiation position with the country’s top leadership. Ahead of Zarif’s departure, Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged gaps remain.

Secretary of State John Kerry: “I think it’s fair to say that we’re hopeful. We have a lot of hard work to do. There are some very tough issues. And I think we all look forward to getting down to the final effort here to see whether or not a deal is possible. I think everybody would like to see an agreement, but we have to work through some difficult issues.”

The outstanding differences include access to international inspectors and Iranian nuclear activity in the deal’s final years.

Islamic State Tied to Attacks That Kill Dozens on 3 Continents

Jun 29, 2015

Dozens of people were killed on three continents Friday in attacks tied to the Islamic State. In Tunisia, a lone gunman shot dead 38 people in the resort town of Sousse before being killed by police. Most of the victims were European tourists. A witness described the attack.

Katrina: “We were lying at the beach. Everything was fine, it was paradise, beautiful sea, and everything was good. And suddenly make 'pop, pop, pop, pop, pop,' and we thought it was fireworks over there, they were practicing something. And then everybody suddenly stand up, and they were running, running, really fast, and everyone cried, 'Run, run, run, run, run!' And also the security, they all told us to 'run, run. Go into your rooms. Run away.'”

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Tunisia massacre. Thousands of Tunisians marched in Sousse on Saturday to denounce the killings and show solidarity with the victims. ISIL also took credit for a simultaneous attack in Kuwait, where a suicide bomber killed 27 people at a Shiite mosque. Kuwait has identified the bomber as a Saudi citizen who flew into the country just hours before. Thousands of Shiites and Sunnis marched in Kuwait City on Saturday in a mass funeral procession for the victims. Meanwhile in France, two militants attacked a U.S.-owned factory in the town of Grenoble, leaving one victim decapitated and several others wounded. The attackers tried to blow up the factory by ramming their car into gas containers. The decapitated victim had employed one of the two suspects. The attackers reportedly carried an ISIL flag and covered the victim’s head in Arabic script.

Thousands March for Climate Justice in Rome Ahead of Vatican Conference

Jun 29, 2015

Thousands of people marched in Rome on Sunday to promote Pope Francis’ historic call for global action on climate change. A Vatican encyclical this month urged world leaders to pay their “grave social debt” to the poor and take swift action to save the planet from environmental ruin. A march participant said the cause of climate justice unites all faiths.

Daniel Blackman: “I think what it’s saying is that globally the moral and the spiritual concern has grown. And the fact that there are so many different faiths says that communities are willing to put aside their differences and their different faiths to come together on a common issue. So, whether it’s the pope through the encyclical or it’s the Muslim community or the Christian community or the Catholic community, we have all come together to address it, because it’s an issue that affects all of us as human beings.”

The Vatican is hosting a conference on climate change this week with activists and scientists from around the world.

New York Prisoner Manhunt Ends with Capture, Killing

Jun 29, 2015

A three-week manhunt has ended in New York after two escaped murderers were shot by law enforcement, one of them fatally, near the Canadian border. David Sweat was shot and arrested Sunday afternoon near Coveytown. His capture comes two days after a federal agent shot dead his fellow escapee, Richard Matt. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the manhunt is over.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “The nightmare is finally over. It took 22 days, but we can now confirm, as of two days ago, as you know, Mr. Matt is deceased, and the other escapee, Mr. Sweat, is in custody. He’s in stable condition. And let’s give a big round of applause to the men and women of law enforcement, who have done a great job.”

The prisoners used power tools to drill through the walls and break out of the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora. Two prison workers have been arrested for allegedly aiding with their escape.

Puerto Rico Says It Can’t Pay $72B in Public Debt

Jun 29, 2015

And Puerto Rico has announced it won’t be able to pay back its $72 billion in public debt. State officials are reportedly seeking to delay payments in talks with creditors. Governor Alejandro García Padilla is reportedly set to call for hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts in a budget address today.

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