Alyx Paul and Jonathan Nazon kiss after exchanging vows during a Valentine’s Day wedding ceremony at the Empire State Building in New York. The pair were among 11 couples who won an annual wedding contest held on the skyscraper’s 86th-floor observatory. (Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters)
Judge, others take trip to homeless camp

Led by a federal judge, an entourage of three dozen lawyers, activists, county workers and officials set out at dawn Wednesday to assess what it would take to move hundreds of homeless people camped along a riverbed in Orange County, Calif.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter boldly ordered the trip in a case being watched by advocates for the homeless, who are grappling with a rise in homelessness caused in part by soaring housing costs, rock-bottom rental vacancy rates and a roaring economy.

Advocates for the homeless sued and sought protection from the court when they heard that authorities were going to start citing or arresting people who refused to leave the two-mile-long encampment.

Carter’s ruling will cover only the people living in the tents near the baseball stadium where the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim play, but advocates for the homeless elsewhere might look to the case to make similar claims, experts said.

During the four-hour tour, Carter spoke with officials about how to remove syringes littering the ground, the lack of access to bathrooms for tent-dwellers, and who is and isn’t willing to move to motel rooms the county will offer for 30 days when the encampment is shut down on Tuesday. “This is going to move much more quickly than anybody suspected,” Carter told the lawyers.

— Associated Press

the nation
FDA allows first blood test for concussions

The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday gave approval for a first-ever blood test to evaluate whether adults have had concussions, also known as mild traumatic brain injury. The agency said that the blood test, marketed by Banyan Biomarkers and called the Brain Trauma Indicator, can reduce unnecessary neuroimaging, thus sparing some patients radiation exposure. The test measures the levels of two proteins, UCH-L1 and GFAP, which can indicate brain damage that normally is apparent only on a CT scan.

FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the new diagnostic “sets the stage for a more modernized standard of care for testing of suspected cases” and will potentially save the health-care system money by reducing “often unnecessary neuroimaging tests.”

— Laurie McGinley

Rikers Island jail to close by 2027

New York’s sprawling and notorious Rikers Island jail complex, which has come under scrutiny for corruption, violence and poor management, will close by 2027 under an agreement reached Wednesday between Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council leaders.

The deal between De Blasio and Speaker Corey Johnson, a fellow Democrat, calls for housing 5,000 inmates in smaller jails around the city. De Blasio said that incarcerating inmates in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens and at a new facility in the Bronx will create a “safer and fairer” borough-based jail system.

De Blasio announced last March that he planned to close the entire complex within the decade, but the timeline agreed to Wednesday isn’t fast enough for New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat who has a testy relationship with the mayor.

— Associated Press

Calif. city is declared a marijuana sanctuary: The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously to declare the city a sanctuary for recreational marijuana, a move that may be the first of its kind. The resolution, adopted Tuesday, prohibits Berkeley's agencies and employees from using the city's resources to assist in enforcing federal marijuana laws or providing information on legal cannabis activities.

— McClatchy-Tribune