Explanation, please. Congressional Republicans and Democrats are calling on President Barack Obama to justify any planned attack on Syria before it happens. In an unusual show of bipartisan concern, the nation’s lawmakers urged the president to move slowly and seek their input before doing anything that might embroil the nation in another drawn-out conflict in the Middle East. In a letter sent to the president late Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the White House should provide ‘‘a clear, unambiguous explanation of how military action—which is a means, not a policy—will secure U.S. objectives.’’ Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations panel, questioned whether the situation in Syria really threatens U.S. interests. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., also cautioned an attack on Syria might draw the United States into a civil war that shows no sign of coming to a close.
Not too late. The Albuquerque, N.M., city clerk finally certified the signatures on a petition to put a 20-week abortion ban before voters. New Mexico currently has no restrictions on when, during gestation, an abortion can take place. Although Project Defending Life collected 26,400 signatures—more than double the number required to get the measure on the ballot—the city clerk did not verify them in time to have the ordinance included on the Oct. 8 ballot. But now that the petition is verified, city law requires a referendum. A special election could cost $600,000, an expense pro-life advocates say the city could avoid if the council would just adopt the ban themselves.
Gun control. The White House earlier today announced two new executive orders designed to curb gun violence, although neither is likely to have any effect on the majority of people who buy guns. The first order closes a loophole that allowed felons to buy guns without undergoing a background check if they made the purchases through a trust or corporation. Now anyone buying a gun through another entity must have a background check. The second executive order prohibits private entities from re-importing military-grade weapons previously sold to U.S. allies. According to government estimates, more than 250,000 such weapons have come back home since 2005. Earlier this year, President Obama unveiled a package of gun-control measures that have mostly stalled due to congressional opposition.
On the rocks. George Zimmerman’s marriage could be another casualty of the 2012 struggle that left teenager Trayvon Martin dead and put Zimmerman on trial for his murder. Although a jury acquitted Zimmerman earlier this summer, his wife, Shellie, said she’s not sure whether she will stay with him. During an interview today with ABC News, Shellie Zimmerman said she “would have to think about” the status of her marriage. She declined to answer questions about whether she and her husband were separated. On Wednesday, she pleaded guilty to perjury for lying to a judge about the couple’s finances. Her husband did not appear with her in the courtroom. A judge sentenced her to a year’s probation and 100 hours of community service.