Alabama has commenced issuing marriage licenses to same couples from Monday. This follows a Supreme Court ruling which refused to extend a stay on a federal judge’s earlier ruling.
Alabama became the 37th state were same sex can legally wed when Judge Alan King of Jefferson County Probate Court in Birmingham issued the first license to two women. Judge King went on to issue several more licenses.
Dee Bush, who has been with her partner Laura Bush for seven years, became a couple legally. They have five children between them and after receiving the license walked outside to a cheering crowd where a minister was conducting the wedding ceremonies.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had asked the state’s probate judges Sunday not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a candid six page letter the social conservative Chief Justice opined that the federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was not obligatory on the state courts. Moreover it has caused confusion in the states.
The latest action by Chief Justice Moore is sure to lead to acrimony between the state’s chief justice and the federal courts, Justice Moore’s actions have also been condemned by the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender rights groups.
Legal Director Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign called Moore’s letter “a pathetic last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat. Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer.”
Moore’s letter was released just hours before same sex marriage became legal in Alabama. The letter read
“No probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.”
The section which Justice Moore is referring to is the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.
Both the state’s law and the constitutional amendment was struck down by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade in two decisions Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, saying that it violated same-sex couples’ equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Six persons of Bosnian origin who had sought refugee status and immigrated to the US are facing charges of providing material support and resources to Islamic State terrorists. The six persons include three St. Louisans.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic, 40, his wife Sedina Unkic Hodzic, 35, and Armin Harcevic, 37, all of St. Louis County, Nihad Rosic, 26, of Utica, N.Y., Mediha Medy Salkicevic, 34 of Schiller Park, Ill., and Jasminka Ramic, 42 of Rockford, Ill. has been named in the indictment
As per information provided by the United States Attorney’s Office, all the six suspects are believed to be natives of Bosnia who had immigrated to the US as naturalized citizens or have refugees or legal resident status.
Federal agents had been tracking the suspects from 2013 to 2014. The Federal agents learnt that Ramiz and Sedina Hodzic were the point people for funneling money, guns and military equipment to Islamic State fighters in the Middle East. The husband /wife appeared for their initial appearance in the Federal Court on Friday evening.
According to Federal Investigators, Ramiz set up an account in St. Louis to collect close to $8,000. This included his personal money, cash from other suspects and third parties. Ramiz bought military equipment worth $2,400 from St Louis businesses. The wares included military uniforms, combat boots, tactical gear and firearms accessories then shipped them through the U.S. Postal Service to Turkey.
Ramiz had also transferred $7,700 cash between 2013 and 2014 through Western Union to Islamic State fighters, funneling it through Turkey, Bosnia and Saudi Arabia.
Ramiz Zijad Hodzic and Nihad Rosic are both charged with conspiring to kill and maim persons in a foreign country.
The United Bosnian Association sent a statement saying: We as a community are in shock and condemn any acts of terrorism as well as supporting any of it. As with any group of people there are some that do harmful things to society, unfortunately we have those as well. As with any other criminals the law and the system will bring them to justice.
A petition by lawyers for the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to suspend jury selection and order the trial to be moved outside Massachusetts has been hotly contested by prosecutors who have asked the Federal appeals court to reject the bid.
Prosecutors contended that Judge George O’Toole Jr. has thoroughly examined prospective jurors and made sure that they do not have any bias or strong opinion on Tsarnaev’s guilt.
Tsarnaev’s lawyers have asked the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order O’Toole to move the trial or suspend jury selection. Tsarnaev’s lawyers have based their observation after a review of more than 1,300 juror questionnaires showed that 68 percent believe Tsarnaev is guilty.
The defense has filed three motions for change of venue. Two have been rejected so far.
Dzhokhar Tsarnaev aged 21, faces a plethora of charges which carry the possibility of death sentence. Dzhokhar faces 17 charges with the possibility of capital punishment for allegedly setting off the bombs at the finish line on April 15, 2013.
The Federal judge on Friday afternoon declined to consider a third motion for a change of venue by Tsarnaev.
A federal judge Friday afternoon denied a third motion for a change of venue by alleged Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar
US District Judge George A. O’Toole Jr. said the reasons for refusing the bid to change venue included the success of the voir dire process for finding suitable jurors.
“Contrary to the defendant’s assertions, the voir dire process is successfully identifying potential jurors who are capable of serving as fair and impartial jurors in this case,” O’Toole said in a decision filed in US District Court in Boston.
The Judge had twice earlier ruled that any change of venue was not deemed necessary and he could pick a fair jury. The trial could last for months and it will not be an easy task for the Judge to find jurors who do not have any connection with the marathon bombing and are willing to hand out the death penalty if they feel it is necessary.
ISIS has claimed on Friday that an American hostage had been killed in an air strike in Syria by US led coalition.
ISIS in a statement which was posted on the Jihadist websites said that the woman was buried under the rubble after a raid by Jordanian Warplanes in Raqa. Raqa is the capital of the self proclaimed caliphate of ISIS.
“The plane from the crusader coalition bombed a position outside the city of Raqa after Friday prayers. No fighter was wounded but we can confirm that an American hostage was killed in the strikes.”
The statement was not accompanied with any pictures and there was no independent confirmation of the reported death.
US officials have not commented on the incident.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, “I cannot confirm those reports in any way. I’m not going into specifics of Americans held overseas.”
ISIS jihadists now control large swathes of land in Iraq and Syria. ISIS rules and interprets a particularly brutal version of Islamic Law. The group has gained notoriety by its brutal methods of executing its prisoners which includes beheading and the latest –burning alive in a cage. The group has killed two US journalists, an American Aid Worker, two British aid workers, two Japanese hostages, and a Jordanian Pilot.
Jordan , which is one of the many Arab countries which are supporting the US led air strikes has vowed a befitting response after ISIS released a particularly horrid video this week showing the burning alive of pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh.
Maaz al-Kassasbeh was taken prisoner by ISIS when his F-16 crashed in Syria in an area controlled by the Sunni Extremists during the course of a bombing campaign led by the US.
The Islamic State message was published by SITE Intelligence group which tracks jihadist activity, stated that the American woman was killed when the building where she was held captive collapsed in an airstrike.
The US economy is finally looking up as the Labor Department released the employment figures pertaining to the month of January on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015. The latest report portrays a robust performance and the hiring was particularly strong in November and December than it was previously estimated.
It is 5½ years since the end of the recession and the US job market is finally looking up. The indicators of a healthy recovery are there for everyone to see.
The average hourly wages increased by 12 cents last month to $24.75. This has been the steepest rise seen since 2008.Hourly pay which has been stagnant for some time has increased by 2.2 percent. This is above inflation which rose just 0.8% in 2014.
The unemployment rate increased to 5.7 percent from 5.6 percent. However it was for a good reason, more than 1 million Americans were scouring for jobs and all of them were not successful in getting employment. Their numbers inflated the numbers of people counted as unemployed. The increase in the numbers of job hunters suggests that Americans have become more positive about their prospects.
Russell Price, senior economist at the financial services firm Ameriprise said, “For the average American, it’s certainly good news — 2015 is going to be the year of the American consumer. With job growth being strong, we’re going to see a pickup in wages and salaries.”
The positive job and pay gains makes it increasingly likely that the Federal Reserve will start raising the short term interest rates by the middle of 2015. Investors were not lagging behind and responded smartly to the better than expected jobs figures by selling U.S. Treasury, which send the yields up. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.93 percent from 1.81 percent shortly before the jobs report was released.
The stock prices have increased mildly and the Dow Jones industrial average gained 51 points in the late morning business. Falling gas prices has checked the inflation and also increased the average American’s spending power.
Petitioners led by The New York Civil Liberties Union have approached the court on Staten Island demanding Judge William Garnett open the records pertaining to the Eric Garner case. The move has been opposed by the Richmond County District Attorney Daniel Donovan. Garnett will hear arguments at a hearing on Thursday morning.
The New York Civil Liberties Union in its court papers has pointed out to the outcry over the grand jury’s decision for not indicting the white NYPD Police officer who had resorted to a fatal chokehold and was watched on a video which went quickly viral over the social media. It cited it as a reason to make an exception to the long-standing practice of keeping the process secret.
NYCLU argues in the court papers, Disclosure is needed “to restore public confidence in our criminal justice system and to inform the current debate that has begun regarding the role of the grand jury as an instrument of justice or injustice.”
Meanwhile the Donovan’s office has argued that grand jury witnesses came forward and testified “with full assurances of secrecy.” Making the testimony public will inevitably lead to harassment or retaliation.
Garner was stopped on the streets of July 17 by Pantaleo and other NYPD officers who suspected that Garner was selling Untaxed Cigarettes. A video shot by an onlooker showed Garner refusing to be handcuffed. The police officer Pantaleo then resorted to a process commonly used to restrain unwilling suspects –wrapping his arms around Garner. Garner who was asthmatic was heard gasping and said he could not breathe. He later was pronounced dead at a hospital.
NYCLU has asked the court to order Danovan to make public the grand jury transcript, which includes the testimony of Pantaleo and dozens of other witnesses, detailed descriptions of evidence and other documentation.
Two students have received gun shot outside a public school in Maryland on Wednesday night during the course of a basket ball match. The shooting sent viewers scurrying for cover as distraught parents rushed to the scene to make sure there wards were safe and healthy.
Frederick Police Capt. Richard Hetherington said that the injured Frederick High School students were flown to a hospital in Baltimore with injuries which are not life threatening. He was not aware of the age of the students but warned that the shooters are still at large.
Capt. Richards said the motives of the shooters are not clear but an investigation is on to identify the shooters.
The Frederick County public schools spokesman Michael Doerrer said that two junior varsity basket ball games were going on when the shooting started.
Hetherington said that the students were being released to their parents in a parking lot of a nearby bowling alley. Meanwhile officers took 200 people at the game to a nearby school cafeteria and secured the whole building.
A few minutes before midnight, a school bus and a Police van pulled into the lot and released a dozen students. The students were received by their worried parents who were relieved to see their wards unharmed.
Frederick High School junior Sofia McCluskey said she was watching the game and heard a muffled shot. “Someone yelled, ‘Yo, they’re shooting,’” she said. “And we just ran as fast as we could.”
Sofia and her friend, Stephanie Sanchez ran to the locker room and was taken to the cafeteria, where they waited and were briefly interviewed by police. Sofia said that it was a terrifying moment and she was shaking in fear all the time.
Meanwhile Frederick County Public Schools officials tweeted that the staff and students were healthy, safe and accounted for.
Frederick High School is located on the city’s west side and has about 1,300 students. The school district informed that the school would be closed Thursday for students.
Evolution is a way of life and living things regularly evolve and change to adapt to the changing environment. However, having said that there are some things which never change even after 2 billion years.
An international team of researchers have unearthed a deep sea microorganism that has not evolved in at least two billion years, nearly half the age of the planet. Researchers were quick to point out the fact that it provides ironically the best proof for Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, said lead researcher J. William Schopf. The findings were published in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Professor of earth, planetary and space sciences at the University of California in Los Angeles, Schopf explains, “If evolution is as we understand it, organisms adapt to a changing environment. But if you take away any changes then there should be no evolution.”
Schopf added that he was right from his college days some 50 years ago looking for a permanent, durable environment which could provide credence to the theory that absence of evolution will lead to equal absence of changes.
The research team found living specimens of sulfur eating bacteria off the coast of Western Australia in the muddy sediments on the ocean floor. Needless to say there is no oxygen or light. Neither are there any waves to disturb the sediments.
Using the latest diagnostic technology researchers were able to compare the microbes with a set of fossils preserved in rocks found in Western Australia’s coastal waters that date back 2.3 billion years ago. This was also a time when there was a remarkable spike in oxygen levels; this produced an increase in oxygen-containing sulfate and nitrate compounds that sunk to the bottom of the ocean. They provided the “food” that allowed these bacteria to thrive and multiply.
They also match up exactly with fossils from 1.8 billion years ago found in the same area.
Charles Darwin explained how species changed overtime in response to a change in environment. The latest discovery fits in well with Darwin’s theory since it explains how organisms do not change or evolve if there is no change in the environment.
The three year old ban on the sale of foie gras in California was struck down by a federal judge on Wednesday. The move has been welcomed by a section of California restaurants and was termed as “culinary freedom.”
Foie grasis prepared from the liver of a goose or duck which are finely chopped. However the process of fattening of the duck or goose, termed as ‘gavage’ has earned the ire of PETA. The fattening process involves force feeding the bird with a tube. The process has been considered as particularly hideous and animal rights activists display pictures of these helpless birds with tubes forced into their throats.
Wayne Pacelle, the president of said in a statement, “California lawmakers conducted a serious-minded debate about farm animal welfare in 2004, passing a bill to phase out the cruel force-feeding of ducks and the sale of foie gras if it comes from that inhumane process,”
Deep in the Constellation Carina, are the most luminous and mystifying star system, some 10,000 light years away. The two massive stars are known as Eta Carinae and it has erupted twice in the 19th century and scientists have still not been able to solve the mystery of these eruptions. Scientists are predicting a massive explosion which will lead to the formation of a supernova.
The brighter and the primary star have a mass 90 times our Sun. It also outshines it five million times. The composition and other details of the smaller companion are being hotly debated. Powerful gaseous outflows known as Stellar Winds are produced by the stars and it completely shrouds it making it impossible to directly observe it. However the gas is hot dense to the point that it starts to emit X-rays which are observable.
Both the stars are losing masses at a high rate. However there is still no evidence that either of the two stars will cease to exist.