Court lifts hold on gay marriage in Kansas

TOPEKA, Kan. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday said same-sex marriages can go ahead in Kansas in a decision that the state insists applies to only two counties. The justices denied a request from Kansas to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying while the state fights the issue in court.

Separately Wednesday, a federal judge struck down South Carolina’s ban on gay marriage.

Justices weigh role of race in redistricting

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court was divided Wednesday over a challenge to Alabama’s legislative redistricting plan in a case that turns the usual arguments on their heads.

The complicated case involves the use of a landmark voting rights law that led to the election of blacks across the South.

Only in this case, Republicans in Alabama are invoking the Voting Rights Act to justify concentrating black voters in some legislative districts, and African-Americans challenging the state’s legislative maps said the GOP relied too heavily on race.

U.N. panel on torture questions U.S.

GENEVA — The United States came under heavy scrutiny Wednesday from U.N. experts investigating whether it had violated the terms of a global treaty that prohibits torture.

The panel quizzed Obama administration officials not just on the treatment of suspected terrorists held at CIA “black sites” during the administration of President George W. Bush, but also the practices of U.S. police officers and prison guards.

Md. school district scraps calendar holidays

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Maryland’s largest school district has voted to strip religious labels from next year’s school calendar.

The 7-1 decision Tuesday by Montgomery County’s Board of Education comes after Muslim leaders in the community asked that equal recognition be given to the Muslim holy day of Eid al-Adha. Schools still will be closed for the Christian and Jewish holidays and students will get the same days off.

Muslim leaders said they were not pleased with the board’s decision. They didn’t want religious labels removed from the other holidays, just for Muslim students to be treated equally, said Saqib Ali, co-chair of the Equality for Eid Coalition and a former state lawmaker.

Lookalike in Pa. trooper killing gets car

EAST STROUDSBURG, Pa. — A northeastern Pennsylvania man who was repeatedly mistaken as the suspect in the killing of a state trooper now has his own car as a result of the ordeal.

James Tully was questioned by police more than a dozen times during the search for Eric Frein, who was arrested Oct. 30 after a 48-day manhunt.

Tully drew attention while walking to and from work each day along rural roads. His plight brought him wide sympathy and led to a crowdfunding campaign to get him a car. About $24,000 was raised, and on Wednesday he bought a used Subaru Outback.

— From wire reports

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