February 21
ILLINOIS
Same-sex marriage licenses distributed

Same-sex couples in Illinois’s largest county began receiving marriage licenses Friday after a federal judge ruled that they do not have to wait until a new state law legalizing gay marriage takes effect in June.

Illinois approved same-sex marriage last year; the new law takes effect June 1.

However, U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman ruled Friday that same-sex marriages can begin now in Cook County, where Chicago is located.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed against Cook County Clerk David Orr, who supports gay marriage.

Coleman already ruled in December that same-sex couples did not have to wait until June to marry if one or both partners had a life-threatening illness. Several same-sex couples married after that ruling.

— Associated Press

CALIFORNIA
State senator, sibling face bribery charges

Federal law enforcement authorities on Friday announced multiple charges of bribery and cover-ups against a Democratic state lawmaker and his brother.

The 24-count indictment was filed Thursday in federal court in Los Angeles against state Sen. Ron Calderon and his brother, Tom, a former state lawmaker who now works as a lobbyist and was in charge of political accounts cited in the document.

Los Angeles U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte said Ron Calderon took $100,000 in cash bribes plus plane trips, golf trips and gourmet meals. Ron Calderon has denied wrongdoing.

Ron Calderon, 56, has agreed to turn himself in Monday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Tom Calderon has already surrendered to authorities and was expected to face an arraignment later on Friday, he said.

— From news services

MISSISSIPPI
Noose incident yields penalties at Ole Miss

A fraternity chapter at Ole Miss has been indefinitely suspended by its national organization and three of its freshman members kicked out because of their alleged involvement in hanging a noose on a statue of James Meredith, the first black student to enroll in the once all-white university in 1962.

Sigma Phi Epsilon said Friday it suspended the Alpha Chapter at the University of Mississippi at Oxford and the chapter voted to expel all three men and turn over their identities to investigators.

Police on Sunday found a noose tied around the neck of the statue, along with an old Georgia flag with a Confederate battle emblem in its design.

The FBI said Friday it planned to expand the investigation for potential federal violations.

— Associated Press

Former tribal leader accused of killing 4: A former tribal leader killed her brother, nephew, niece and a worker at the headquarters of a small Indian tribe that was evicting the suspect and her son from its land in far Northern California, police said on Friday. Cherie Lash Rhoades, former chairwoman of the Cedarville Rancheria tribe, critically wounded two other people on Thursday during a meeting in Alturas about the eviction, police said.

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