The state Senate of Minnesota voted 37 to 30 on May 13 to allow same-sex marriages, following earlier passage of the legislation by the state’s House of Representatives on May 9 by a 75-to-59 vote. The legislation changes the definition of marriage in Minnesota from "between a man and a woman" to a civil contract between two persons.
John Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), said in a speech delivered to the New America Foundation on May 8 that government “bureaucrats” have told him to stop making public his audits revealing waste, corruption, and mismanagement of projects to rebuild Afghanistan. Some government officials, said Sopko, have even complained that they cannot pre-screen or edit his reports.
California’s Assembly passed a bill on April 25 that would permit non-U.S. citizens to serve on juries. If the bill, AB1401, passes the Senate and is signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, California would become the first state to allow this practice. Brown has not taken a public position on the bill.
Responding to a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted from April 24-28, only 24 percent of those polled said that the United States has a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria between government forces and anti-government groups. An overwhelming majority — 62 percent — said that the United States has no such responsibility.
Irfan Naseer, the leader of a terrorist suicide bomb plot from Birmingham, England, was sentenced to life imprisonment on April 26, with several of his co-conspirators receiving lesser sentences.
Naseer, a British-born pharmacy graduate, learned his bomb-making skills in Pakistan and sent four of his followers there for training.
Visits made by several members of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet to the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo this past weekend proved to be highly controversial this week, as leaders in other Asian nations criticized the visits because the remains of persons convicted by Allied military tribunals as war criminals are enshrined there.
In a joint statement issued as a press release on April 19, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) stated that “The least of our worries is a criminal trial” and that "Under the Law of War we can hold this suspect [Dzhokhar Tsarnaev] as a potential enemy combatant not entitled to Miranda warnings or the appointment of counsel.”
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesman told reporters in Toronto on April 22 that the RCMP had arrested and charged two men with plotting to derail a Toronto-area passenger train. The police said the plot was backed by al-Qaeda elements in Iran.
The FSB — Russia’s primary domestic security agency and successor to the old Soviet KGB — informed the FBI in early 2011 that it had information indicating that Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the elder brother suspected in the Boston Marathon bombings, was a follower of radical Islam, said two law enforcement officials on April 20.
Conservative members of Congress, including Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R.-Ala.), have expressed sharp criticism of the 844-page immigration bill filed on the Senate floor on Wednesday, April 17 by the bipartisan “Gang of Eight.”