Newscast Media CAIRO—Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Wednesday with
chief of the United States Military Central Command, Army General Lloyd J. Austin lll.
State-run agency MENA reported that the two military officials discussed a set of
regional and international issues as well as matters of common strategic interest.
Austin also met with the chief of staff of the Egyptian military, Sedqy Sobhy, and
talked about a string of issues relating to common military cooperation.
The meetings were attended by several senior Egyptian army leaders as well as the
acting US ambassador to Cairo.
The US has been providing Egypt with US$1.3 billion in annual military aid. Washington
had partially halted the finances after the army ousted Egypt’s first elected leader
Mohamed Morsy in July, which stoked tensions between the longtime political allies.
Translated from Al Masry Al Youm
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—On Wednesday, the World Health Organization and Britain, the current holders of the G8 presidency, advocated a combined global attempt to battle dementia, saying that extra spending and coordinated global research seeking to minimize duplication – could accelerate progress towards finding effective treatments.
“No one here is in any doubt about the scale of the dementia crisis. A new case every four seconds, a global cost of $600 billion (440 billion euros) and that is to say nothing of the human cost,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told the meeting in London.
An estimated 44 million people currently suffer from some form of dementia, with Alzheimer’s the most common form. Amid an aging global population this figure is expected to rise sharply in the coming decades. The Alzheimer’s Disease International federation warned in a December 5 report that the figures could reach 135 million by 2050.
Dementia cannot currently be cured, but on Wednesday G8 members issued a joint statement saying they had agreed to “significantly” increase research funding and encourage open access to various studies’ findings to speed up the process.
“The amount going into research is too little,” British Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told reporters. “We would like a cure to be available by 2025. It’s a big, big ambition to have. If we don’t aim for the stars, we won’t land on the moon.”
Source: Deutsche Welle
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—An emerging influenza virus, making its first appearance in humans in 2013, is not the serious human health threat that some experts have feared since the unusual pathogen sickened almost 140 in China.
The H7N9 virus killed more than 40 people in urban China earlier this year, but a U.S.-backed research team now finds that the virus is not well-adapted for transmission from human to human. The Scripps Research Institute published the findings in the journal Science.
“Luckily, H7N9 viruses just don’t yet seem well-adapted for binding to human receptors” at the cellular level, said Ian Wilson, a leading biologist at Scripps. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provided financial support for the study.
When birds are infected with H7N9, it causes them few or no symptoms. But humans became severely ill in China starting in February, and, ultimately, 139 laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus were documented, with an alarming fatality rate of almost 30 percent.
Tests on tissue samples from the infected humans began quickly at a number of laboratories, with researchers attempting to identify whether H7N9 had become capable of jumping the species barrier that protects people from many flu strains that occur in animals. If H7N9 had adapted to obtain a lock onto human cells, the potential for a human influenza pandemic loomed.
Viral mutations allowing a leap across the species barrier have been identified as enablers of the 1968–69 Hong Kong flu, which killed 1 million. The worst worldwide flu epidemic ever documented, in 1918–19, caused an estimated 50 million fatalities and broad social disruption. It too arose after a flu virus jumped the species barrier.
While the first studies of H7N9 indicated the virus had some capability to lock onto human receptor cells, the Scripps study conducted a more thorough analysis to find that only a weak attachment forms between the viral proteins and human cells.
“These results suggest that we should continue to observe H7N9 and see if it undergoes any changes that make it more likely to spread in the human population,” Wilson said.
Health authorities worldwide are on the lookout for H7N9 and are reporting cases to the World Health Organization (WHO), the authoritative source for case statistics. WHO reports that most human sickness has arisen after people had direct contact with poultry or live animal markets.
The most recent WHO assessment indicates that the H7N9 virus could remain in circulation in China and neighboring nations. With the Northern Hemisphere flu season underway, further cases “would not be unexpected,” WHO reports.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Taliban views interpreters who served the US
military as traitors. Thousands of translators now fear for their lives at home in
Afghanistan, while they wait in vain for residence visas promised to them by the US.
The prospect of death bound their fates together. First, an Afghan translator saved
an American army captain’s life, and then the captain saved the translator by helping
him make it to the US.
“I wouldn’t be sitting here telling you the story if it wasn’t for the guy saving my life,”
says American Matt Zeller, while seated on his sofa in a Washington D.C. suburb.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Medical insurance fraud
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Several Russian diplomats accused by US prosecutors of
state medical insurance fraud in New York have returned to Moscow, a relative of one
of them told RIA Novosti.
About 49 suspects, including Russian diplomats and their family members, are accused
of reporting false information about their income between 2004 and August 2013 in
order to receive free medical services from the US government.
There were 11 people of the total number left in the US when charges were brought
against them on December 5.
The suspects included, according to the FBI and media, Russian diplomats, former
employees of the Russian permanent mission at the United Nations, staff of the New
York consulate and a Russian trade mission.
The suspects allegedly received some $1.5 million in medical insurance payments,
according to legal news agency RAPSI.
“Several people from this list have flown to Moscow,” the relative said Tuesday,
without specifying how many.
An employee of a Russian diplomatic mission in the United States confirmed that some
suspects had left the US. The Russian Embassy in the US questioned the validity of
the charges against the Russian diplomats.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said, without elaborating, that the Russian side had many
complaints against American diplomats in Moscow.
The ministry added, however, that these issues were not made public in Russia.
The Festival of Lights is perhaps the largest light festival in the Houston-Galveston region. It has become a Christmas tradition for families and groups alike. Enjoy more than 1 million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays and nightly live entertainment. You can also skate around on the area’s only outdoor ice skating rink. The Festival of Lights takes place annually at Moody Gardens®. —Photo by Joseph Earnest at Moody Gardens®
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—Last Christmas season, I received an email from a Houstonian named Emilee who had taken a photo of her five-month old daughter named Naomee as she fell asleep on Santa Claus about 10 minutes before the picture was taken.
Emilee took the picture at the Woodlands Mall in December 2012 and said to me in her email, “Naturally I wanted her to be bright eyes and bushy tailed for her first picture with Santa. I began to try to wake her up and Santa says ‘It’s okay, Mom! We are gonna make this picture special. Just watch and see.’ He props his feet on a present, leans back in his chair, and holds a book and my daughter to make it look like he was asleep too! It was so special and I felt like he should be acknowledged and thanked publicly.”
However, because the email was sent to me at the time I had taken my Christmas break, I did not get a chance to post the photo or even respond to Emilee’s request due to the sheer volume of emails that had accumulated. Even though I felt terrible about my non-response, I tucked the photo away into a folder and thought I’d make it up to Emilee’s family a year later during this 2013 Christmas season. So here we are!
Hopefully baby Naomee is now awake and old enough to recognize herself in this picture. —Courtesy photo by Emilee Talley, taken at the Woodlands Mall
While the Woodlands Mall is located in north Houston, in south Houston there is yet
another popular family attraction called the Festival of Lights that’s happening. Below
is the schedule for the festival.
Moody Gardens® Festival of Lights Schedule:
November 16 (Grand Opening!)
Thursday-Saturday: November 22 – December 7
Nightly: December 12 – January 4
Time: 6 – 10 p.m.
Newscast Media DAMASCUS—The Syrian army has made more gains in its fight
against foreign-backed militants operating inside the country establishing full control
over the town of al-Nabek. Units of the armed forces on Monday took the town after
a series of successful operations, an unnamed military source told official SANA news
The town was captured after government forces seized a key highway near it, which
passes through the strategic region of Qalamoun. The highway is extremely valuable
to both sides of the battle because it serves as an important link between Damascus
and the country’s north.
The latest gain paves the way for the start of overland shipment of Syria’s chemical
weapons to a Mediterranean port for destruction abroad.
The crisis in Syria has created an obstacle for the implementation of an agreement
between Damascus and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons
(OPCW) to remove chemical weapons from Syria.
On September 14, Russia and the United States agreed on a deal under which Syria
would have its chemical weapons eliminated and the US would in return not carry out
planned strikes on the Arab country.
The war rhetoric against Syria intensified after foreign-backed opposition forces
accused the government of President Bashar al-Assad of launching a chemical attack
on militant strongholds in the suburbs of the capital Damascus on August 21.
Damascus has vehemently denied the accusation, saying the attack was carried out
by the militants themselves as a false-flag operation.
Source: Press TV
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The US Defense Department is facing allegations that
it misled Congress over the purchase of Russian helicopters for Afghan security forces
amid revelations that a Pentagon study recommended an American-built aircraft for
the job, the Associated Press reported.
The United States has bought dozens of Russian military transport helicopters for use
in Afghanistan in the past two years, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars,
arguing that Afghan forces are more familiar with the aircraft.
But unclassified excerpts from a top-secret Pentagon study describes the US Army’s
Chinook helicopter as “the most cost-effective single platform type fleet for the
Afghan Air Force over a 20-year” period, the AP reported. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—American Airlines and US Airways have merged,
creating the world’s largest carrier and overcoming concerns the deal would hurt
consumers. An antitrust lawsuit had stalled the merger in August.
AMR Corporation – the former parent of American Airlines – and US Airways Group
announced in a statement on Monday they had completed the deal after AMR
emerged from bankruptcy protection. The goliath new American Airlines Group will
provide nearly 6,700 daily flights to more than 300 destinations in 50 countries.
CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Assad, Obama and Putin
Newscast Media LONDON—According to an article written by journalist Seymour Hersh
published in the London Review of Books, US President Barack Obama omitted
important intelligence, and in other instances he presented assumptions as facts.
According to Hersh, US intelligence agencies produced a series of classified reports to
set the stage for a ground invasion, based on the premise that Assad had used nerve
gas against his own people. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a
suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against
“One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s
assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current
regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama
administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and
sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days
after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack
was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin
incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security
Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam,” Hersh wrote.
In his article, Hersh revealed that the same official said there was immense frustration
inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in
the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in
the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?’”
The full article can be read here.
Iran, a strong and loyal friend of Syria, was convinced that an attack on Syria was
justification for an immediate attack on Israel. A military source that spoke on
condition of anonymity told FARS News Agency, “If Damascus comes under attack,
Tel Aviv will be targeted too and a full-scale war against Syria will actually issue a
license for attacking Israel.
“We are rest assured that if Syria is attacked, Israel will also be set on fire and such
an attack will, in turn, engage Syria’s neighbors,” , the source said.
Russia’s Vladmir Putin played a major role in brokering a deal that averted a possible
war in the Middle East.
Newscast Media HOUSTON, Texas—There is a sophisticated side of Africa that is
rarely portrayed by the media about Africa. Many still think that Africa is a backward
continent with zebras and lions running all over the place. However, that narrative is
far from the truth. Some Africans have never even seen a real life lion or elephant
other than the ones in zoos.
Another misconception is that the whole of Africa is always engaged in wars. If that
iwere true then how on earth are these cities, bridges, streets and industries being
constructed? There are a few pockets of strife here and there, but that is activity is
found in every part of the world.
Africa is rising. The cities and industries are continuously growing as you will see in
the video below. All the edifices shown were built by native Africans with the very
own hands, through their sweat and blood. These African cities rival some of the
greatest cities in the West and those in the Orient like Bangkok and Tokyo. Yet you
never see this aspect of Africa being broadcast to the world. One has to wonder why.
However, since truth can only be found at Newscast Media, we will show you a rare
side of Africa that will surprise many. This video of Mama Africa was edited by the
talented African sister Loreen Nyambok. Watch:
Mama Africa—Video by Lo Nyambok
African cities, African civilization, African continent, African countries, African dances, African game parks, African kingdoms, African kings, African leaders, African natives, African presidents, African queens, African resources, African safari, African streets, African Union
Newscast Media JOHANNESBURG—The Nelson Mandela Foundation has announced the
death of the international icon who after a long illness has passed away. On its Web
site, the message read in part:
It is with the deepest regret that we have learned of the passing of our founder, Nelson
Rolihlahla Mandela – Madiba. The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa will shortly
make further official announcements.
We want to express our sadness at this time. No words can adequately describe this
enormous loss to our nation and to the world.
We give thanks for his life, his leadership, his devotion to humanity and humanitarian
causes. We salute our friend, colleague and comrade and thank him for his sacrifices for
our freedom. The three charitable organisations that he created dedicate ourselves to
continue promoting his extraordinary legacy.
The renowned freedom fighter was jailed for over a quarter of a century by the
apartheid government, and after he was released in 1990, he became South Africa’s
first Black president in 1994.
In 1985, Mandela turned down the government’s offer to free him if he renounced
armed struggle against apartheid. It wasn’t until South African President P.W. Botha
had a stroke and was replaced by F.W. de Klerk in 1989 that the stage was set for
His life was a triumph over racial oppression. The statesman died at age 95 from a
recurring lung infection and will receive a state funeral.
Newscast Media BENGHAZI—Two Libyan soldiers and a US teacher were shot dead in separate incidents Thursday in the increasingly lawless eastern city of Benghazi, security officials said. The killings are the latest in a series of attacks in Benghazi on members of the military and the police force, as the North African nation struggles against insecurity.
Medics at the Al-Jala hospital named the murdered soldiers as Ahmed Hamdi, 23, and Salah al-Werfelli, 28, adding that both men had been shot in their heads.
Further east, in the Islamist bastion of Derna, residents on Thursday staged new demonstrations against what they say is anarchy in the city, demanding a police and army presence.
Like Benghazi, Derna has in recent months seen a wave of killings of members of the security forces and the judiciary.
The violence is blamed on jihadist groups that have mushroomed since the toppling and killing in 2011 of long-time dictator Moamer Kadhafi.
Chief among these is Ansar al-Sharia, a jihadist group blamed for a 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi in which the ambassador and three other Americans were killed.
The group implicitly denied responsibility for Monday’s attack on protesters in Derna.
“Opening fire with live rounds on protesters … is a dangerous thing,” the group said in a statement received on Thursday by AFP. Prime Minister Ali Zeidan announced on Wednesday that preparations were under way to send troops to Derna, where law and order is almost non-existent.
The country’s new authorities have tried in vain to integrate former rebels who helped topple Kadhafi into the regular armed forces, with many militias carving their own fiefdoms, each with its own ideology and regional allegiances.
The dead US teacher worked at the city’s international school, a Benghazi Medical Centre official said.
Source: Al Manar TV news
The Vatican by night: St. Peter's Basilica—Photo by Joseph Earnest
Newscast Media VATICAN CITY—A State official is clearing the misinformation and rumor mongering out there about the moving of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See. Shaun Casey, as special adviser for faith-based community initiates at the U.S. State Department clarified that the United States is moving the location of the Embassy to a building that is safer, bigger, and architecturally more appealing. It also is slightly closer to Vatican City.
At the end of 2014 or early 2015, the U.S. will move the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See from its current location near the Circus Maximus in Rome to a U.S. government-owned compound less than two miles away. The new location, which also houses the U.S. Embassy to Italy and U.S. Mission to the United Nations Agencies, is actually closer to Vatican City than the current location.
The historic and beautiful building that will house the future Embassy provides ideal and expanded office space for the U.S. diplomats who do the critical work of representing the United States to the Holy See. The future Embassy will be 78 percent larger than the current Embassy. The residence of the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See will not change.
All three diplomatic missions on the U.S. compound will retain their distinct character and functions. Each will continue to have independently accredited ambassadors working in separate buildings. Each Embassy will have a separate street address and entrance. The Embassy to the Holy See will continue to operate independently from the other two U.S. Embassies in Rome. It will remain one of the largest foreign missions from any country accredited to the Holy See.
U.S Vice President Joe Biden strikes a pose. —Photo by Joseph Earnest
Newscast Media BEIJING—China has spread its tentacles into Africa. The U.S. is
extremely nervous…and rightfully so. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is currently in
China trying to slow the Chinese down. Yet Africans have openly embraced the
Chinese due to their “hands off” approach on Africa’s domestic affairs.
The no-strings-attached loans being extended to the Continent by their newly-found
Asian friends are a lot more appealing than the U.S. dollars that the West dangles like
a carrot in the faces of Africans, with pre-conditions attached.
Africa is rising. The economies are booming. Even the native African doomsday sayers
who are paid to paint a negative picture about the Motherland have run out of dismal
articles to write about the Continent, because the transformation is self-evident.
CONTINUE TO FULL ORIGINAL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—Thieves in Mexico have stolen a truck carrying radioactive material used for medical purposes that could be “extremely dangerous” if it is removed from its casing, the United Nations’ nuclear energy watchdog said Wednesday.
The Volkswagen truck was transporting radiotherapy equipment containing the powerful radioactive isotope cobalt-60 when it was stolen Monday morning in the town of Tepojaco near Mexico City, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.
“At the time the truck was stolen, the source was properly shielded. However, the source could be extremely dangerous to a person if removed from the shielding, or if it were damaged,” the IAEA said.
Mexican authorities said Wednesday that law enforcement units had been mobilized in several states to hunt for the truck, which was equipped with a crane and stolen at a gas station.
The material came from a hospital in the northern Mexican city of Tijuana and was being transported to a radioactive waste storage center when it was stolen, the IAEA said.
A US official told NBC News that the US Border Patrol had been notified of the theft and the contents of the truck. One federal official said that “whoever stole the truck had no idea what was inside and was more interested in getting a truck,” NBC News reported.
NBC News cited an unidentified law enforcement official as saying that the truck was carrying a thumb-size amount of cobalt-60 that would be perilous for anyone who tries to fashion a makeshift nuclear device out of it.
“It would be extremely dangerous to anyone who tried to grind it up for use in a dirty bomb,” NBC News cited the official as saying.
The Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based anti-proliferation group, tracked 15 reported thefts and seizures of radioactive material last year, including incidents involving Russia and several former Soviet republics such as Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Moldova.
Source: Ria Novosti
Newscast Media AUSTIN—A Texas federal grand jury in Brownsville has indicted
former Tamaulipas governor Tomas Yarrington Ruvalcaba, 56, and the owner of a
Mexican construction firm, Fernando Alejandro Cano Martinez, 57, charging them of
conspiring to violate provisions of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization
statute (RICO), as well as conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy to defraud and
conspiracy to make false statements to federally insured U.S. banks.
According to France 24, Yarrington has been a fugitive from justice since 2012, and is
only the latest politician indicted by prosecutors in Texas, in what could be a
potentially embarrassing string of cases for Mexico’s current administration.
Yarrington has been charged with:
* Violating the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Statute.
* Conspiracy to launder money.
* Conspiracy to defraud.
* Conspiracy to make false statements to federally insured U.S. banks.
* Violating the Controlled Substances Act.
* Two counts of bank fraud.
* Conspiracy to structure currency transactions at a domestic financial
The indictment was filed under seal in May 2012, but has just been unsealed in the
past 24 hours. Newscast Media has obtained the unsealed 53-page indictment:
*Click here to read or download the just-unsealed federal indictment.
Beginning around 1998, Yarrington allegedly began to receive millions of dollars in
bribes from drug traffickers, including the notorious Gulf Cartel, to allow smugglers to
freely conduct their operations. He then purchased valuable assets, including a luxury
condo in South Padre Island, Texas, according to the indictment.
If found guilty, the ex-governor could face up to 60 years in jail.
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States has signed agreements with the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the U.S. Treasury Department said November 29. The bilateral pacts represent the first FATCA agreements in the Caribbean and Central America.
The department said on its website November 19 that “FATCA is rapidly becoming the global model for combating offshore tax evasion and promoting transparency.”
“Today’s announcement marks a milestone in the effort to promote global tax transparency,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs Robert B. Stack. “These agreements underscore growing international cooperation in the effort to end tax evasion everywhere.”
FATCA, enacted in 2010, seeks to obtain information on accounts held by U.S. taxpayers in other countries. It requires U.S. financial institutions to withhold a portion of payments made to foreign financial institutions that do not agree to report information on U.S. account holders. The foreign institutions have the option of entering into agreements directly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement, or through one of two alternative agreements signed by their home country.
The Cayman Islands signed a “Model 1B agreement” November 29, meaning that financial institutions there will be required to report tax information about U.S. account holders directly to the Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority, which is the sole channel in the Cayman Islands for sending tax-related information to other governments. The Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority will relay that information to the IRS. Additionally, the Treasury Department said, the United States and the Cayman Islands signed a new Tax Information Exchange Agreement to replace one signed in 2001.
“By working together to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency and enhanced reporting, we can help build a stronger, more stable and accountable global financial system. We look forward to collaborating with the government of the Cayman Islands to further these objectives,” said Julie Nutter, minister-counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London, who signed on behalf of the United States.
Click here to read or download the US-Cayman Islands agreement.
Click here to read or download the US-Costa Rica agreement.
The Costa Rica agreement was signed November 26 and is a “Model 1A agreement,” meaning that the United States will also provide tax information to the Costa Rican government on Costa Rican citizens with accounts in the United States.
“Today’s signing marks a significant step forward in our efforts to work collaboratively to combat offshore tax evasion — an objective that mutually benefits both our countries,” said Gonzalo R. Gallegos, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, who signed on behalf of the United States.
In addition to the 12 FATCA agreements that have been signed to date, the Treasury Department said, it has also reached 16 agreements in substance and is engaged in related conversations with many more jurisdictions.
Newscast Media MOSCOW—Russian police said Monday that they have broken up a
trafficking ring in Moscow that forced women from the former Soviet country of
Moldova into sexual slavery.
Six Moldovan women were freed and one 45 year-old Moldovan man arrested as a
result of the operation, according to a police statement.
“After arriving in the Russian Federation, the group put [the women] in flats or houses
in the Moscow region, took their documents and, with threats or beatings, forced
them to work as prostitutes,” the statement said.
Police said the women were recruited in Moldova, a small landlocked country
sandwiched between Ukraine and Romania, with the promise of jobs in Russian cafes
and bars. Moldovans do not need visas to enter Russia.
Moldova is the poorest country in Europe, with more than 25 percent of its population
living below the poverty line, according to the World Bank.
Source: Ria Novosti
by Katherine Weber
Newscast Media AUSTIN—Two same-sex couples in Texas filed a federal lawsuit this
week challenging the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage that was
overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2005. The couples argue that the ban
unconstitutionally prevents them from enjoying the benefits of married couples, while
the state’s Attorney General Greg Abbott has vowed to vigorously defend the ban.
Lawyers for the couples said in court documents filed this week in the U.S. District
Court in San Antonio that their clients are being unconstitutionally discriminated
against by not being allowed to marry in the state, where in 2005, nearly 75 percent
of voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between
one man and one woman. The lawsuit specifically argues that the June ruling by the
U.S. Supreme Court that overturned a key provision of the Defense of Marriage Act
conflicts with state-to-state bans on same-sex marriage.
The two couples, Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman of Austin and Victor Holmes
and Mark Phariss of Plano, are seeking an injunction to halt the state law banning
same-sex marriage. “There is no rational basis, much less a compelling government
purpose, for Texas to deny plaintiffs the same right to marry enjoyed by the majority
of society,” attorney Barry Chasnoff, who is representing that plaintiffs, said in a
statement to the Associated Press. Currently, 16 states in the U.S. have legalized
same-sex marriage, the most recent ones being Illinois and Hawaii.
Lauren Bean, a spokeswoman for Abbott, said the attorney general is prepared to
defend the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that the Supreme
Court was clear to ensure in its ruling that individual states would have the authority
to determine same-sex marriage legalization. “The U.S. Supreme Court was clear that
states have independent authority to establish their marriage laws. Texans adopted a
constitutional amendment defining marriage. We will defend that amendment.”