(Feb. 14) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day - The Explorer: Today's Headlines

(Feb. 14) Today's Top Headlines - The top 10 stories of the day

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Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 9:16 am

1. Court overturns Virginia's same-sex marriage ban

A federal judge ruled Virginia's gay-marriage ban unconstitutional Thursday night. "Our Constitution declares that 'all men' are created equal,'" wrote Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen. "Surely this means all of us." The decision could affect other Southern states, including North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia, with similar bans. Gay-marriage opponents vowed to appeal, and Allen stayed the decision pending the appeal. [The New York Times]

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2. Storm that pummeled the South hits the Northeast

The winter storm that hammered the South this week dumped another layer of snow on the Northeast late Thursday and early Friday as it headed into the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has been blamed for at least 20 deaths from Texas to the mid-Atlantic. It forced the grounding of more than 11,000 flights and knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses as it blanketed the South with snow and ice. [Bloomberg]

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3. Senators want to defend states opposed to gay marriage

Despite the recent Supreme Court ruling gutting the Defense of Marriage Act, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) introduced a bill this week seeking to protect states that don't want to recognize gay marriages. Cruz said Thursday he wants to prevent President Obama from "trying to force gay marriage on all 50 states." Administration officials say they are doing what they can to recognize lawful same-sex marriages. [CBS News]

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4. World's biggest solar plant opens

The largest solar-energy plant in the world officially opened Thursday in the Mojave Desert. The $2.2 billion Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, owned by NRG Energy, Google, and BrightSource Energy, covers five square miles and can power 140,000 homes, making its inauguration a milestone for green energy. The Wall Street Journal, however, reports there is mounting evidence that it generates so much heat it scorches birds. [The Associated Press, MarketWatch]

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5. Pediatrician and author convicted in waterboarding trial

Dr. Melvin Morse, a pediatrician and best-selling author who has appeared on Oprah, was convicted of child endangerment for several forms of abuse against his stepdaughter, including using a form of waterboarding to punish her. The girl, now 12, said the mistreatment also included preventing her from bathing and denying her access to a bathroom. Morse's lawyer said the girl and her mother made up the tales of abuse. [Reuters]

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6. Italy's premier quits under pressure from his own party

Italian Prime Minister Enrico Letta resigned Thursday after a revolt within his own Democratic Party. The move was expected to clear the way for a new government headed by his main rival, Matteo Renzi, who would be expected to speed up fiscal reforms. Another option would be for President Giorgio Napolitano to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections. Letta was the third straight premier brought down by friction among lawmakers. [Bloomberg]

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7. Driver in wrong-way crash charged with murder

A California woman, Olivia Culbreath, was charged with six counts of murder on Thursday for a head-on crash that occurred as she drove the wrong way down a Southern California freeway at up to 100 mph on Sunday. Culbreath, 21, could be imprisoned for life if convicted. She remains hospitalized with a broken femur and ruptured bladder. Two people in Culbreath's Camaro, including her sister, died, as did four people in a Ford Explorer she hit. [The Associated Press]

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8. Belgian lawmakers approve euthanasia for minors

The lower house of Belgium's Parliament passed a bill on Thursday that would extend the right to euthanasia to children. The Senate has already approved the proposal, so all it needs is the signature of the king, Philippe. Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002 for adults in "constant and unbearable" suffering that doctors can't alleviate. Minors were included in the original bill, but they were excluded in the final version. [CNN]

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9. More than 200,000 evacuated after volcano starts erupting in Indonesia

The eruption of a volcano in Indonesia forced the evacuation of more than 200,000 people on the main island of Java on Thursday. The volcano, Mount Kelud, has been burping to life since January. Just before two eruptions on Thursday, scientists had raised the alert status as high as it can go. The eruptions sent ash raining down nearly 10 miles away, and authorities want everyone within about seven miles to move to safer ground. [The Wall Street Journal]

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10. Former Waltons star Ralph Waite dies

Actor Ralph Waite, who played the iconic father figure John Walton on The Waltons, died Thursday in his home in Palm Desert, Calif. He was 85. Waite was nominated for a 1978 Emmy for the role. He starred in the popular TV drama for nine years. "Ralph was a good, honest actor and a good, honest man," said actress Michael Learned, who portrayed Waite's wife, Olivia, on the show. "He was a loving mentor to many and a role model to an entire generation." [The Hollywood Reporter]

Compiled by theweek.com

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