Rights violations? A North Carolina county official has become the latest local politician to try to force courts to change a state’s ban on homosexual marriage. Buncombe County Register of Deeds Drew Reisinger announced Monday he would accept same-sex marriage applications, despite his state’s constitutional amendment banning the unions. As other county officials in other states have recently done, Reisinger cited as his justification this summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling striking down part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act: “I have concerns about whether we are violating people’s civil rights based on this summer’s Supreme Court decision,” Reisinger said in a statement. For now, Reisinger said he will hold the license applications while he seeks approval from Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, to process them. Although Cooper supports same-sex marriage, he has said in the past he would not let his personal views prevent him from defending the state’s laws, a very different stance from that taken by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
Declassification appeal. Washington lawmakers not embroiled in the budget talks gripping much of the nation’s capital are trying to focus attention on the National Security Agency and its electronic surveillance programs. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wants the Obama administration to hand over the classified document that explains why the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) determined it was lawful for the government to create a database of American’s phone records. The opinion, written by the FISC’s then Chief Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, has been outlined in a Justice Department white paper, but only a few people have seen the original 80-page document. “The original legal interpretation that said that the Patriot Act could be used to collect Americans’ records in bulk should never have been kept secret and should be declassified and released,” Wyden told The Washington Post.
Tremor. A strong earthquake struck the Philippines this morning, killing at least 93 people on the island of Bohol and in the province of Cebu. The tremor registered as a magnitude 7.2 and left heavy damage to roads, bridges and historic churches, some dating back to the Spanish colonial period in the 1500s and 1600s.
Ice bomb. Police at Los Angeles International Airport are ramping up security after dry ice bombs exploded in restricted areas on Sunday and Monday. Officers found four bombs during the last two days, and although they say they do not suspect terrorism, they aren’t sure how the bombs got there. The devices, which consist of dry ice packed into empty water bottles, appeared to target airport employees. One exploded in an employee bathroom, the other on the tarmac near the terminal. Two other devices did not go off. Officials are asking airport employees to be more vigilant in looking for suspicious behavior.
Moose tracks. Scientists are alarmed over the rapid decline in America’s moose population, which has seen an unprecedented drop in the last decade. Herds of the lumbering beasts have shrunk in New Hampshire, Montana, Wyoming, and Minnesota. Researchers have no idea what is causing the animals to die. Some scientists blame climate change, saying warmer winter temperatures could allow pests like ticks to thrive, but admit they can’t draw any direct correlation between the weather and the animals’ condition.