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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 36,736

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Environmental Scientist

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PHOTOS: Florida Kisses for Equality


Last August, U. S. District Judge Robert Hinkle declared Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Citing the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protections clause, Hinkle wrote unequivocally that, “Marriage is a fundamental right.” After a lengthy stay, his ruling went into effect January 6, making Florida the 36th state to embrace same-sex marriage.

As a fourth-generation Floridian, I am ecstatic for my home state where, as a child, I was as likely to see a gay couple as a snowman. Already, more than a 1,000 couples have been married in the nation’s third most populous state, with hundreds more renewing their vows from previous out-of-state weddings.

The Kiss for Equality campaign documents couples proclaiming their love publicly as a clarion call for marriage equality worldwide, and shared these photos of Floridian newlyweds celebrating the freedom to marry in the Sunshine State:

Kirk Edward and Kevin Rew
Kirk and Kevin were married at Smathers Beach, in Key West, Fla., on January 24. Three years ago they met at a bar and exchanged numbers. They were married one day after the third anniversary of their first date.



Why would Republicans go after children's health insurance?

By Richard Kirsch, contributor

With Republican presidential candidates trumpeting their concern about the struggles of working and middle-class families, why would congressional leadership undermine the wildly popular Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)?

CHIP is that rare social program where success is celebrated by both Republicans and Democrats. Governors across the political spectrum support the program, which gives states flexibility in design while the federal Treasury pays an average of 88 percent of costs. By covering 5.8 million children, whose parents don't get children's health coverage at work but earn too much for Medicaid, CHIP has dramatically cut the proportion of uninsured children, providing them with good coverage and their parents with affordable premiums and low out-of-pocket costs.

When the Affordable Care Act was passed, CHIP supporters in Congress made sure that the new healthcare law did not interfere with CHIP's success. The ACA kept CHIP in place, with a provision that Congress would review CHIP in 2015. With its history of bipartisan support, supporters hoped that renewing CHIP would not become controversial. It turns out that was too much too hope for.

In late February, Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.) published a discussion draft that would endanger the health of at least 1 million children enrolled in CHIP while raising costs to states.


Answer: Because they are evil, heartless bastards.

Gay Rights Attorneys Are Poised To Bring Alabama’s Resistance To Marriage Equality To An Abrupt Halt

A motion filed in an Alabama federal court on Friday will likely bring Alabama’s efforts to thwart marriage equality in that state to an unceremonious halt. This motion, in the likely event that it is granted, will give a federal judge who sided with marriage equality authority over each of the state’s probate judges that refuse to comply with her decision.

The probate judges currently are caught between two dueling court orders. In the same week that lawmakers gathered in Selma, Alabama to commemorate the bloody march that inspired the Voting Rights Act and helped break the back of Jim Crow, the Alabama Supreme Court handed down a 134-page opinion placing the state in opposition to a different kind of civil right. On Tuesday evening, the state supreme court ordered all the state’s probate judges but one — Mobile Probate Judge Don Davis is subject to a federal court order requiring him to comply with the Constitution’s promise of equal rights under the law — to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Alabama. The state’s justices also hinted that they may soon extend this order to Judge Davis.

This order is the culmination of a weeks-long campaign of resistance to marriage equality from within the state’s judicial system. Not long after Judge Callie Granade, a George W. Bush appointee to a federal district court in Alabama, held that denying equal marriage rights to same-sex couples violates the Constitution, the Alabama Probate Judges Association claimed that, despite Granade’s ruling, “they must follow Alabama law and cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

In reality, the Constitution provides that it is the “supreme law of the law” and “the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, anything in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” So state judges are not free to defy a federal court’s order interpreting the Constitution.



Monday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest








The Issue




Monday Toon Roundup 2- Rights denied

Monday Toon Roundup 1- Elephant Act

Giant methane storms on Uranus

Most of the times we have looked at Uranus, it has seemed to be a relatively calm place. Well, yes its atmosphere is the coldest place in the solar system. But, when we picture the seventh planet in our solar system invariably the image of a calming blue hazy disc that the spacecraft Voyager 2 took in 1986 comes to mind.

However, all we have previously known about the atmosphere of Uranus has been 'thrown to the wind' with observations made last year.

In August 2014 a group led by Imke de Pater pointed the Keck telescope at Uranus and were a little bit surprised to see storms raging. It wasn't as though clouds haven't been seen before, but the clouds they spotted last year were very much brighter than any seen before. The fact that the storms are bright in the methane spectrum isn't a surprise – Uranus, and its neighbour Neptune, are pretty much just big balls of methane, water and ammonia (but it does make for a snigger-worthy headline).

The storms are described in a paper recently published in Icarus, with the pre-print available here. After the first observations, the group put out a call to amateur astronomers to see if they could also observed this unusual activity too. They did, and with this information the group built a case to point the Hubble Space telescope at Uranus, which happened in October. Again, they saw large storms, showing that what they had seen in August hadn't been a one off event - the weather report on Uranus is looking rather unsettled.



Vatican receives €100k ransom demand for stolen Michelangelo letters

Source: Guardian

The Vatican has received a ransom demand for two documents written by Michelangelo that were stolen from its archives nearly 20 years ago.

The theft of the documents – one a letter including the signature of the Renaissance artist who painted the Sistine Chapel, designed part of St Peter’s Basilica and sculpted statues such as David and the Pieta – had not been made public before Sunday.

Following a report by the Rome newspaper Il Messaggero on Sunday, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said a cardinal in charge of St Peter’s Basilica had been contacted recently by a person who offered to get the documents back for what Lombardi called “a certain price”.

Il Messaggero said the person, described as a former Vatican employee, had asked for €100,000 (£72,000).

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/08/vatican-ransom-demand-stolen-michelangelo-letters

U.S. Tourists Arrested For Carving Their initials Into Rome’s Colosseum

Two tourists from California were arrested in the Italian capital, Rome, on Saturday for allegedly engraving their initials into the ancient Colosseum and posing for a selfie, Italian media reported.

The women, aged 21 and 25, allegedly left their tour group and used a coin to engrave the letters J and N some 3-inches high into the walls of the ancient World Heritage site, La Stampa newspaper reported.

The pair were spotted by other tourists and reported to security, with police charging the women with “aggravated damage on a building of historical and artistic interest.”

“We apologize for what we did,” the pair reportedly said. “We regret it, but we did not imagine it was something so serious.”


Former Jets RB Chris Johnson shot in Florida; one dead

Former Tennessee Titans and New York Jets running back Chris Johnson was shot in the shoulder Sunday morning in Orlando, Fla., according to a release from the Orange County Sheriff's office.

Deputies responded to the shooting call at 4:09 a.m. Sunday and found the driver of a Jeep, Dreekius Oricko Johnson, dead and two other men with gunshot wounds.

The victims, Chris Johnson and Reggie Johnson, told police that an unknown vehicle pulled up at a red light and opened fire into the Jeep, leaving Dreekius Oricko Johnson, 28, dead.


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