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February 14, 2019

JAPAN - SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

TOKYO (AP) — Thirteen couples have filed Japan’s first lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the country’s rejection of same-sex marriage.

Six couples holding banners saying “Marriage For All Japan” walked into Tokyo District Court today to file their cases on Valentine’s Day. Three couples in Osaka, one couple in Nagoya and three couples in Sapporo also filed cases against the government.

Plaintiff Kenji Aiba, standing next to his partner Ken Kozumi, told reporters that he would “fight this war together with sexual minorities all around Japan.”

The lawsuit argues that the law violates their constitutional right to equality. While Japanese law and many lawmakers lag behind, public acceptance of sexual diversity and same-sex marriage has grown in Japan.

The plaintiffs’ lawyers think the cases could take as long as five years or more to be decided.

FOUR CHARGED IN BEATING OF GAY COUPLE IN AUSTIN, TEXAS

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Police say they have charged four men with aggravated assault after a gay couple was beaten in Texas.

Frank Macias, his brother Miguel Macias, Quinn O’Connor and Kolby Monell were in jail yesterday in Travis County. They each were charged Tuesday with two counts of aggravated assault, a second-degree felony, for the Jan. 19 attack in Austin. Their bonds were set at $150,000. Jail records list no attorneys for them.

Prosecutors could seek a hate-crime enhancement from a jury, which would elevate the charges to first-degree felonies.

Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore says she believes a strong case exists that Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry were targeted because they are gay.

Authorities say Deehring told them he and Perry were holding hands when a man made a derogatory comment as he passed them. Deehring said after he and Perry responded, up to five men attacked them using homophobic slurs.

CLAIM ABOUT DONALD TRUMP THE DOG DISPUTED IN MINNESOTA

UNDATED (AP) — A Minnesota sheriff says a dog named Donald Trump wasn’t shot and killed over a political rivalry, despite false claims circulating on social media that have spurred “violent threats” against some county residents.

The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office concluded the person who shot Donald Trump the dog Sunday was “legally protecting their livestock” on private property. The shooter has not been identified.

“Facts have been misrepresented on social media sites,” Sheriff Shawn Haken’s office said in a statement about the dog’s death. “Unfortunately, people are now posting multiple threats of violence toward citizens in the area and justifying the threats based on these inaccurate posts on social media.”

The dog’s owner, Randal Thom, is an avid supporter of the president and has been featured in dozens of news stories for frequenting his rallies. Some social media users claimed a neighbor, who they believed to be a Democrat, intentionally killed Thom’s dog.

Neighbors have lodged 14 complaints about Thom’s dogs running loose, killing animals and attacking a person, according to the sheriff.

JUDGE ORDERS DEPOSITION OF INFOWARS HOST ALEX JONES IN SANDY HOOK CASE

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut judge has ruled that Infowars host Alex Jones must undergo a sworn deposition in the defamation case brought against him by family members of Sandy Hook school shooting victims.

Discussions on Jones’ web show have called the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre a hoax, and lawsuits by families of eight victims and a first responder say they’ve been subjected to harassment and death threats from Jones’ followers.

The superior court judge also ruled yesterday that the families can depose several other defendants in the case, including those critical to Infowars’ business operations.

Jones has defended the discussions on his show. He has cited First Amendment rights and says he believes the shooting happened.

LYNDON LaROUCHE DIES

LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — Lyndon LaRouche (lah-ROOSH’), the political extremist who ran for president in every election from 1976 to 2004, including a campaign waged from prison, has died at 96.

His organization, LaRouche PAC, confirmed yesterday on its website that LaRouche died on Tuesday.

LaRouche grew up in Massachusetts. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was a member of the Socialist Workers Party. He ran first as the U. S. Labor Party nominee and later, after an apparent shift to the right, as a Democratic or independent candidate

LaRouche ran his 1992 campaign from a prison cell after he was convicted in 1988 of mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the IRS by defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters.

MARDI GRAS GROUP DEFENDS USE OF BLACK MAKEUP

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans’ widely recognized Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club says its tradition of using black makeup for its Mardi Gras float riders is not the same as blackface, a controversy that has embroiled officials nationwide.

The club is out with a statement aimed at heading off any criticism of its long-standing custom of parade riders blackening their faces. The statement says Zulu parade costumes bear no resemblance to those worn by blackface minstrel performers at the turn of the century. It also says Zulu’s costumes are designed to honor garments worn by South African Zulu warriors and notes the tradition hails from poverty in the post-Reconstruction South, when makeup — not masks — was the only option available to them.

The New Orleans Advocate reports the club’s statement comes just weeks before it prepares to roll on March 5, Fat Tuesday.