Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 8, 2014


Appeals court overturns same-sex marriage bans in two more states

A federal appeals court in San Francisco on Tuesday struck down gay-marriage bans in Idaho and Nevada. The ruling, if unchallenged, would clear the way for same-sex weddings in all nine states under the court's jurisdiction. The decision came a day after the U.S. Supreme court declined to hear challenges of similar rulings in three other appeals courts. Together, the decisions brought the number of states on track to allow gay marriage to 35, up from just 19 two days earlier.


Airstrikes help Kurds keep ISIS from seizing Syrian border town

Airstrikes by a U.S.-led coalition forced Islamic State of Iraq and Syria fighters to pull back to the outskirts of the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani, Kurdish officials there said on Wednesday. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned Tuesday that airstrikes alone would not be enough to prevent ISIS from taking over the predominantly Kurdish town. The United Nations' Syria envoy warned of "massacres" if the world doesn't do more to keep ISIS from seizing it.


Court tells Virginia to redraw congressional district maps

A panel of federal judges on Tuesday ruled that Virginia's congressional map was unconstitutional because it created a single predominantly African-American district, limiting the influence of black voters in other districts. The judges ordered the state to draw up new maps by April 2015, allowing the current maps to be used in November's mid-term elections. Democrats had challenged the way the districts were drawn, saying Republicans had used "racial gerrymandering" to dilute minority power.


Officials in Spain plan to euthanize Ebola patient's dog as a precaution

Spanish authorities on Tuesday aggressively worked to prevent the further spread of Ebola after confirming that a nurse's assistant has become the first person to contract Ebola outside West Africa. Government officials isolated the woman, Teresa Romero Ramos, quarantined her husband, and got a court order to put down her dog to avoid any chance that the pet could transmit the virus to humans. She said she followed safety protocols while treating two Ebola patients, and didn't have the "slightest idea" how she got the virus.


Walmart eliminates health coverage for 30,000 part-timers

Walmart said Tuesday that it would make its 1.3 million workers pay more for health care starting next year, when companies employing more than 50 people will have to start providing coverage to full-time workers under ObamaCare. Walmart — the world's largest retailer and America's biggest employer — also said it would end benefits for part-time U.S. employees working less than 30 hours per week, a move that will affect about 30,000 people. Analysts said other companies were likely to follow Walmart's lead.


Scientists win Nobel chemistry prize for new microscope technology

Two Americans, Eric Betzig and William Moerner, and a German scientist, Stefan Hell, won the Nobel chemistry prize on Wednesday for developing new microscopes capable of seeing finer details than traditional optical microscopes. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the three scientists' "ground-breaking" development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy "brought optical microscopy into the nanodimension." The Nobel Prize in literature will be announced on Thursday, followed by the Peace Prize on Friday.


Airtanker pilot dies fighting Yosemite fire

The pilot of an airtanker died Tuesday when he crashed while fighting the rapidly spreading Dog Rock Fire near Yosemite National Park. Fire officials, who did not immediately release the pilot's name, said the single-person, S-2T tanker slammed into a canyon wall. Flying debris from the crash nearly hit crews working nearby as the fire grew to 130 acres over just a few hours. "This crash underscores just how inherently dangerous wildland firefighting is," said CalFire Director Ken Pimlott.


Kenyatta becomes first sitting president to appear at ICC

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday became the first sitting head of state to appear before the International Criminal Court in The Hague to answer questions about his trial for crimes against humanity. Kenyatta is accused of orchestrating post-election violence that killed 1,200 people and displaced 600,000 more in 2007 and 2008. The case has been delayed, partly due to the withdrawal of seven prosecution witnesses some believe were bribed or intimidated. Kenyatta supporters demonstrated outside waving banners saying, "Hands off our prez, he is innocent."


Stephen Collins dropped from movie after molestation allegation

Actor Stephen Collins, 67, was been dropped from the cast of Ted 2, the sequel to the 2012 comedy Ted, on Tuesday after the release of a tape in which the former 7th Heaven star allegedly admits to molesting several girls years ago. The audio recordings reportedly were made by Collins' ex-wife Faye Grant in a meeting during their divorce. Collins allegedly describes exposing himself and making one girl, an 11-year-old from New York, touch his genitals. New York police are investigating.


Total lunar eclipse seen across America

A rare total lunar eclipse was visible across much of the U.S. early Wednesday, in areas where the weather did not block the view. The eclipse lasted about an hour. It was the second in a series of four lunar eclipses due before the end of 2015. Viewers in the West got the best views, and in some areas the moon briefly turned red. This phenomenon, sometimes called a "blood moon," occurs when the atmosphere refracts the sun's rays to hit the moon with a reddish, sunset-like glow.


Will Moscow drones attacks turn Russians against Putin?
A building damaged by a drone attack in Moscow
Talking point

Will Moscow drones attacks turn Russians against Putin?

Uganda's 'shameful' new anti-gay law
Protesters against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill
Global lens

Uganda's 'shameful' new anti-gay law

War under the sea
A nuclear-powered U.S. Navy submarine

War under the sea

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese Troubles

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'

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Why are so many boomers homeless?
Homeless person and tents
Today's big question

Why are so many boomers homeless?

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'
Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Chinese Troubles

Xi Jinping tells national security team to prepare for 'worst-case scenario'

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say
Reconstruction of Australian pterosaur.

Fossils uncovered in Australia are 107 million-year-old pterosaurs bones, scientists say