HARRISBURG, Pa. — A tough new voter identification law championed by Republicans can take effect in Pennsylvania for November’s presidential election, a judge ruled Wednesday, despite a torrent of criticism that it will suppress votes among President Barack Obama’s supporters and make it harder for the elderly, disabled, poor and young adults to vote.
Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson said he would not grant an injunction that would have halted the law, which requires each voter to show a valid photo ID. Opponents are expected to file an appeal within a day or two to the state Supreme Court as the Nov. 6 election looms.
The Republican-penned law — which passed over the objections of Democrats — has ignited a furious debate over voting rights as Pennsylvania is poised to play a key role in deciding the presidential contest. Plaintiffs, including a 93-year-old woman who recalled marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960, had asked Simpson during a six-day hearing earlier this summer to block the law from taking effect in this year’s election as part of a wider challenge to its constitutionality.
Republicans, who defend the law as necessary to protect the integrity of the election, praised Simpson’s decision, while it was decried by Democrats who say the law will make it harder, if not impossible, for hundreds of thousands people who lack ID for valid reasons to vote.
3 dogs tied to Ohio railroad tracks; train kills 2
CLEVELAND — A $5,000 reward was offered Wednesday for information leading to an arrest and conviction of a man who tied three dogs to railroad tracks, where two were killed by a train and one survived by crouching off the rails.
The reward was offered by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA Director Martin Mersereau suggested whoever tied the animals to the tracks could “pose a serious threat to all animals — including humans.”
Police Lt. Mark Ketterer told The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer that it happened last week in the riverfront Tremont neighborhood overlooking downtown Cleveland.
A CSX bridge monitor found the survivor Friday night and called police. The worker told police that he witnessed from a distance the dog being tied to the tracks and someone appearing to take photographs or video of it.
By the time the railroad worker got to the dog, the train had passed and the man was gone. The bodies of the other dogs were found in the same secluded stretch of tracks.
Almost 200 reported killed across Syria
BEIRUT — Air attacks by the Syrian government killed at least 30 people Wednesday in the rebel-controlled town of Azaz in one of the bloodiest days in the country’s ongoing conflict, according to activists.
The town, north of the city of Aleppo and just a few miles from the Turkish border, was pounded for hours by warplanes that left homes flattened and about 200 people injured, regime opponents reported. Azaz has been the target of many previous attacks by forces loyal to President Bashar Assad.
The fatalities were among almost 200 reported killed across Syria on Wednesday in ongoing bloodshed — almost half the victims were in Aleppo and its suburbs — and they included 23 people slain execution-style in fields in the suburbs of the capital Damascus, according to activists.
The violence also spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, where more than 20 Syrians and at least one Turkish man were kidnapped in retaliation for the capture of what Free Syrian Army rebels said was a Hezbollah operative.
Grenades at Afghan mosque, bicycle bomb injure 23
KABUL, Afghanistan — Nearly two dozen Afghan civilians were wounded on Wednesday when two grenades exploded inside a mosque compound and a bicycle bomb blew up in a city market, officials said.
The violence came a day after bomb blasts around Afghanistan killed at least 50 people in the deadliest day for civilians this year, as Taliban insurgents and other militants ramp up violence across the country.
The Taliban summer offensive coincides with Afghan police and soldiers taking on more responsibility for security while international forces start to withdraw.
Separately, NATO reported that one of its service members was killed Wednesday in an insurgent attack in the east. NATO did not disclose the nationality of the soldier or provide any more details.
The U.S. military reported that one of its soldiers died in a roadside bombing Wednesday, also in eastern Afghanistan. So far this year, 286 international troops have been killed in Afghanistan.