- - Wednesday, October 5, 2011

CALIFORNIA

Gay-rights group nixes fight for now

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s largest gay-rights group has decided against trying to have the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex unions overturned next year.

Equality California announced Wednesday that it would not lead a ballot campaign to undo Proposition 8. The constitutional amendment limited marriage to a man and a woman five months after the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages.

Executive Director Roland Palencia says polls show voters are still divided and a court challenge that could overturn the measure is still pending. As a result, he says the time is not right to undertake a risky and expensive ballot fight.

Instead, Equality California plans to devote its resources to a public education and messaging campaign to counter beliefs that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry harms children.

CAMPAIGN

Paul: U.S. could target journalists for killing

Republican presidential contender Ron Paul on Wednesday suggested that the United States could assassinate journalists the same way it targeted Americans with ties to al Qaeda.

The Texas congressman again criticized President Obama for approving last week’s drone strikes in Yemen against a U.S. citizen who was tracked and executed based on secret intelligence that linked him to two failed terrorist attacks against the U.S. An American-born propagandist also died in the bombing. Escalating his criticism, Mr. Paul told a National Press Club luncheon that if citizens do not protest the deaths, the country will start adding reporters to its list of threats that must be taken out.

“Can you imagine being put on a list because you’re a threat? What’s going to happen when they come to the media? What if the media becomes a threat? … This is the way this works. It’s incrementalism,” Mr. Paul said.

“It’s slipping and sliding, let me tell you.”

Anwar al-Awlaki, the target of the U.S. drone attack, was one of the best-known al Qaeda figures after Osama bin Laden. American intelligence officials had linked him to two thwarted attacks on U.S.-bound planes, an airliner on Christmas 2009 and cargo planes last year. The second American killed in the drone attack, Samir Kahn, was the editor of Inspire, a slick online magazine aimed at al Qaeda sympathizers in the West.

Mr. Paul likened the pair to German officials who carried out the Holocaust, but were still given trials.

SENATE

Warren off to fast start in campaign

First-time candidate Elizabeth Warren has eclipsed her five Democratic rivals and emerged as the leading challenger to Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown just three weeks after launching her campaign.

Ms. Warren, a consumer advocate and Harvard law professor, is largely untested on the campaign trail. So her fast start has relieved and energized many Democrats who had been clamoring for a major challenger for months in their hopes to reclaim the seat once held by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Ms. Warren is far outpacing the other Democratic candidates — they poll in single digits while she polled at 38 percent, about even with Mr. Brown in a recent poll.

MONTANA

House candidate with KKK ties drops out

HELENA — A candidate for Montana’s U.S. House seat with ties to the Ku Klux Klan says he is dropping out of the race because he didn’t have enough support.

John Abarr of Great Falls told the Associated Press early Wednesday he is withdrawing his candidacy because the campaign “wasn’t going anywhere.”

The 41-year-old night auditor at a hotel was a former KKK organizer. At the time of his June announcement he said he thought people would back him as part of a backlash to the nation’s first black president.

But leading Montana Republicans either rebuked or ignored him.

Leading state Republicans have already rallied around Bozeman businessman Steve Daines in 2012 as the popular choice to replace Republican U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg, who is running for U.S. Senate.

WHITE HOUSE

Obama praises ‘profound’ U.S.-Honduras relations

President Obama is praising what he calls the “profound” relationship between the United States and Honduras.

Meeting with Honduran President Porfirio Lobo in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Mr. Obama said that under Mr. Lobo, Honduras has restored democratic practices and seen a commitment to the country’s reconciliation. Mr. Lobo was elected in 2009 after the previous president was removed from office following a constitutional showdown with the nation’s Supreme Court and Congress.

Mr. Obama pledged to help Honduras fight corruption and crime generated by the international drug trade. With more than 630,000 Hispanics of Honduran background in the United States, the meeting had significance for Mr. Obama in Central America and at home.

Mr. Lobo declared it a “high honor” to visit the White House and extended his “permanent gratitude” for U.S. assistance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports