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News In Focus: A Look At This Week’s Most Interesting Stories

Ireland: Irish voters have voted “yes” to legalizing gay marriage in an unprecedented referendum.

Voters were asked whether the clause, “Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex,” should be added to the Irish constitution.

With over 60 percent of the electorate in favor of same-sex unions,  the Marriage Equality Bill 2015 (passed by overwhelming majorities in the Irish parliament in March) will now be ratified.

The law gives same-sex couples the same constitutional civil right to marry as any male-female couples, and marks Ireland as the first country to institutionalize gay marriage through a popular ballot.

Homosexuality was decriminalized in the Republic of Ireland in 1993, and gay couples have been able to be united in a civil ceremony since 2011, according to Time magazine.

Most Irish political parties, the media, employers, trade unions, students, and sports and music personalities were said support gay marriage, the Financial Times reported.

Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, a keen supporter of legalizing gay marriage, made a last- minute plea to voters. It seems to have done the trick:

http://bcove.me/xvcv12kg 

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Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra, the ousted former Thai prime minister, faced criminal trial in Bangkok on Tuesday.

Yingluck is accused of criminal negligence over a rice subsidy scheme — a flagship policy that helped Yingluck’s Pheu Thai Party win elections in 2011.  The plan, however, failed to prop up rice prices as expected, and the country suffered an estimated 536 billion baht (US$16 billion) in losses.

If she is found guilty, Yingluck is expected to be locked behind bars for up to 10 years.

But the former prime minister insisted on her innocence during the brief court hearing, arguing that the rice scheme had helped transfer wealth to the countryside and “lifted the quality of life for rice farmers.”

A former managing director of a telecommunications firm and real estate company, Yingluck Shinawatra led the Pheu Thai party to a landslide victory in the July 2011 general election.  Her brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, was prime minister of Thailand from 2001 to 2006 when he was overthrown in a military coup.

Observers see the prosecution as an attempt to weaken the political influence of Yingluck and her family.

For more on the story, here’s a euronews report:

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US: Amid complaints of widespread police abuse of force against citizens, President Barack Obama unveiled a plan on Monday to ban the supply of certain types of military-style gear to local police departments.

Obama, speaking in Camden, New Jersey, said that police who wear excessive military gear could “alienate and intimidate local residents, and send the wrong message.”

According to the president’s plan, local police departments will not be allowed to acquire certain types of military-style equipment such as tanks, weaponized vehicles, grenade launchers, firearms higher than .50 caliber, and camouflaged uniforms.

Law enforcement agencies acquiring other types of equipment, such as armored vehicles, explosives, and riot gear will have to provide additional certification and assurances that the gear will be used responsibly.

The ban is seen as the President’s response to the rising tension between law enforcement agencies and minorities in several communities, and incidents where camouflage-clad police patrolled the streets in armored vehicles and fired tear gas on the crowds.

Obama’s speech follows in full:

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Popular culture: American TV personality David Letterman retired after his last episode of “Late Show” on Wednesday.

The final episode concluded the 68-year-old star’s 33-year late night run, and ended one of the most successful television shows in American popular culture.

After a stint as a TV weatherman, Letterman started hosting NBC’s “Late Night” show in 1982. That program ran for 11 years before his “Late Show” debut on CBS in 1993.

Stars who paid tribute to Letterman during his last nights of hosting included Steve Martin, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, and Bill Murray, who was Letterman’s first guest on both the “Late Show” and on “Late Night.”

We conclude this week’s News In Focus with a WatchMojo.com compilation of some of Letterman’s funniest moments:

 

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Have a story that you’d like us to cover or review? Contact NewsWhistle’s Tony Church at Tony@NewsWhistle.com

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Lead-In Image: kmichal / Shutterstock.com