News briefs, Sept. 15

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Kentucky clerk returns to work

Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Ky., Monday, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis makes a statement to the media at the front door of the Rowan County Judicial Center in Morehead, Kentucky, Sept. 14, 2015. Davis announced that her office will issue marriage licenses under order of a federal judge, but they will not have her name or office listed. (Associated Press)

 

Kim Davis returned to work Monday for the first time since she was jailed for denying marriage licenses to gay couples and said she had been faced with a “seemingly impossible choice” between following her conscience and losing her freedom.

With her voice shaking, the Kentucky county clerk said she would not interfere with deputy clerks who continue to hand out the licenses, but Davis declared that the documents would not be authorized by her, and she questioned their validity.

Davis, an Apostolic Christian who spent five days in jail for disobeying a federal judge, read from a hand-written statement outside the Rowan County courthouse, saying she was torn between obeying God and the judge’s directive, which she said “forces me to disobey God.”

Ferguson panel calls for transparency

FILE - In this March 11, 2015, file photo, police and protesters square off outside the Ferguson Police Department, in Ferguson, Mo. Ferguson's new municipal judge Donald McCullin ordered massive changes Monday, Aug. 24, in the city's much-criticized municipal court, a move he said is aimed at restoring confidence in the system and easing the burden on needy defendants. The changes come after a critical U.S. Department of Justice report cited racial profiling among Ferguson police and a municipal court system that often targeted blacks. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Police and protesters square off outside the Ferguson Police Department, in Ferguson, Missouri on March 11, 2015. Ferguson’s new municipal judge Donald McCullin ordered massive changes Monday, Aug. 24, in the city’s much-criticized municipal court, a move he said is aimed at restoring confidence in the system and easing the burden on needy defendants. (Associated Press)

A reform panel formed after the Ferguson police shooting of Michael Brown is pushing for the consolidation of police departments and municipal courts in the St. Louis area, and decreasing the use of police force.

The report acknowledges the commission has no power to enact any of the proposals, but Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon has said the group has his office’s full support.

The events in Ferguson raised concerns about police departments and municipal courts in that north St. Louis County town, and elsewhere in the region. The departments and courts have been accused of targeting minorities to raise revenue, leading to mistrust that was a key component of unrest following Brown’s death.

Pope says Europe’s refugee crisis to get worse

Pope Francis delivers a blessing from his studio's window overlooking St. Peter's Square on the occasion of the Angelus noon prayer at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
Pope Francis delivers a blessing from his studio’s window overlooking St. Peter’s Square on the occasion of the Angelus noon prayer at the Vatican, Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. (Associated Press)

Pope Francis warned Monday that Europe’s refugee crisis is just the “tip of the iceberg,” fueled by an “unjust” global economic system forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee war and poverty in search of better lives.

Francis recalled that the Bible requires that strangers be welcomed, though he acknowledged security precautions must be taken into account in today’s world.

Francis repeated his call for parishes around the world to welcome in a migrant family, and said two refugee families have been identified to move into Vatican housing. They can stay “as long as the Lord wants,” he said.

He applauded those European countries that had welcomed in migrants and warned what awaits those that don’t.

Planned Parenthood debate cause government shutdown

FILE - In this Oct. 2, 2013 file photo, despite signs stating that the national parks are closed, people visit the World War II Memorial in Washington. No government shutdown this year, Republican congressional leaders say. But with Congress, it's never easy. Conservatives are demanding a cutoff of Planned Parenthood's federal funds as their price for keeping agencies functioning beyond Sept. 30. A look at what's complicating the effort to avoid a shutdown. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Despite signs stating that the national parks were closed on Oct. 2, 2013, people visit the World War II Memorial in Washington. Although Republican congressional leaders are saying there will not be a government shutdown this year, their refusal to pass a bill funding Planned Parenthood may cause one. (Associated Press)

A band of conservatives say they won’t back legislation financing government agencies unless the bill blocks federal payments to Planned Parenthood. A partial shutdown will occur Oct. 1 unless lawmakers provide money to keep government functioning.

With time running out, GOP leaders haven’t said how they will handle conservatives’ demands while also rounding up enough votes to prevent a shutdown.

Such a bill probably would pass the GOP-run House. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledges that he lacks the votes to prevail in his chamber and says President Barack Obama would veto it anyway.

California wildfires destroy hundreds of homes

A firefighter lights a back burn along Highway 29 north of Middletown, Calif., Sunday, Sept. 13, 2015. Two of California’s fastest-burning wildfires in decades overtook at several Northern California towns, destroying over a hundred homes and sending residents fleeing Sunday. (Randy Pench/The Sacramento Bee via the Associated Press)

Two of California’s fastest-burning wildfires in decades overtook several Northern California towns, killing at least one person and destroying hundreds of homes and businesses and sending thousands of residents fleeing highways lined with buildings, guardrails and cars still in flames.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection confirmed one fatality in the wildfire north of San Francisco that raced through dry brush and exploded in size within hours. Officials also counted 400 homes, two apartment complexes and 10 businesses destroyed by the flames, department spokeswoman Lynn Valentine said.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday declared a state of emergency to free up resources.

 

 

 

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