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

U.S.: Gay pride supporters claimed victory last Friday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that the American constitution guarantees same-sex couples the right to marriage.

Hundreds of people cheered outside the Supreme Court waving rainbow flags to celebrate the decision.

President Obama said the decision “affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts.”

Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote for the majority in the historic decision, said: “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

But Justice Antonin Scalia, who dissented, said the way the Supreme Court came into the decision poses a “threat to American democracy,” as he criticized the panel of judges that formed the landmark decision “unrepresentative.”

Here are President Obama’s comments in full:


Tunisia: Horror struck the peaceful Mediterranean resort town of Sousse in Tunisia last Friday.

A gunman, later identified as 24-year-old student, Seifeddine Rezgui, fired on tourists with an assault rifle on a beach in front of hotels.  He then carried on shooting and tossing several grenades as he marched on to the Imperial Marhaba Hotel complex, wounding other vacationers.

Altogether, Rezgui killed 38 foreign tourists and wounded 39 others before he was shot dead by police officers who arrived half an hour later, according to the New York Times.

Among the 38 victims, 30 were British, three were from Ireland, two from Germany and one each from Belgium, Portugal and Russia.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Thursday, Tunisian authorities detained eight people suspected of aiding the gunman and are searching for two others.

We go to Sky News for some footage of the attack:


Europe: Greece defaulted on a loan of €1.6 billion (US$1.8 billion) due to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

Greece is the first developed country to fall into arrears on payments to the IMF.

The Greek public already panicked last weekend by rushing to pull their money out of ATMs in face of signs of the country’s imminent financial crisis.

The government responded by imposing tough restrictions on banking transactions for at least one week.

Creditors have been offering a €7.2 billion bailout provided that the Greeks comply with fiscal overhauls, tax increases and pension cuts.  Both the Greek public and the government have resisted the austerity terms, and negotiation stalled by the IMF’s loan repayment deadline.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has now called for a referendum for July 5 on whether Greece should accept the tough terms offered by international creditors.

But the Prime Minister asked citizens to vote “No.”

AJ+ asked Economics Professor Michael Klein to explain the situation:


Taiwan: Festive ecstasy turned instantly to horror and misery in Taiwan last Saturday when an unexpected fire injured more than 500 and killed two in a water park.

Hundreds of revelers were partying at the Formosa Water Park in New Taipei City on Saturday night at the Color Play Asia attraction when a fire from the stage spread to the crowd.

Color Play Asia is an event where people dance to music while spraying each other with colored powder made of cornstarch and food coloring.

The fire was quickly put out, but not before it had inflicted large-scale injury to the crowd.

The exact cause of the fire was still being investigated, but the authorities believed that the fire started when the colored powder ignited (by a cigarette, a piece of sound equipment, or another electrical device) and quickly erupted into a huge fireball.

Apart from Taiwanese, the victims included visitors from Hong Kong, China, Macau, Japan, Malaysia, and Singapore.

The horrific scene was caught on this AP-released video:


Japan: We leave you today with a CNN report about a hunky gorilla causing a stir in Japan.


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Lead-In Image (stock photo): DSanimal /