On December 5th of last year, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the case in which a Colorado baker refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same-sex couple. A few days ago in California, a county judge ruled that a baker there could legally do the same. Of course, this decision could be overruled by the high court. Most see these cases as being about free expression v. anti-discrimination, two important American values. The baker and company is the petitioner in the Supreme Court case and the Colorado Civil Rights Commission is the respondent. The Supreme Court arguments first centered around whether creating a custom cake would be compelled speech. Next the argument came to the distinction of whether the baker objected to making the cake for the same-sex couple or simply objected to the message the cake would “speak.” In order to avoid any sort of slippery slope situation, the Court would have to rule narrowly on this case. Extreme examples of ruling too broadly either way are a) artists are compelled to create art they disagree with–even state propaganda and b) business owners are allowed to deny services to any class of people they choose. Reading the arguments’ transcript shows a broad ruling is unlikely. The decision will be whether bakers will be compelled to create a cake for an event they disagree with, or same-sex couples will be denied a cake from the shop of their choice. Which is worse: the denial of a service to a class of people or the compulsion of a smaller class of people to do something against their wishes? I’ll leave this one for the justices to decide.
Meteors for Breakfast
February 15th, TUNGUSKA, RUSSIA–Hundreds are stunned and injured when a meteor exploded 20 miles above the city, many people suffering facial lacerations caused by glass of broken windows, dramatically demonstrating that space objects still threaten life on Earth with dangerous collisions. Meteor strikes of this type are relatively minor and commonly occurs about every 3-5 decades and most terminate in the oceans or unpopulated areas. However, mankind expands her territory daily, and large asteroids, such as the one supposed to have caused a mass extinction 65 million years ago that eliminated the dinosaurs, still loom in our solar system. Most collision-prone space objects are detectable far enough out to allow for humanity to interfere with, so long as we create such a program. Most collisions occur in the oceans or unpopulated areas, but mankind expands her territory daily. Currently, there is no defense in place against the hazard of such strikes, although according to top astrophysicists, any of these objects could plainly be ‘towed’ out of the way with enough warning by a spacecraft on standby. Although the President has continued delivering rhetoric about improving America’s rank in science and math education as an economic strategy, this hasn’t translated into funding of government institutions such as NASA, a natural choice to lead the endeavor.
NASA is currently working with a few private associations on scouting potentially hazardous space objects, with a goal of being capable of spotting 90% of them by 2020. According to a 2007 NASA report to Congress, the Agency could reach this goal by partnering with other government agencies to build other potential observatories assuming they become dedicated assets by 2015. Of late, NASA has been struggled to persuade Congress or the Obama Administration that the Agnecy deserves being reinvested into. NASA’s federal budget allocation percentage has been steadily declining from 6.6% at the time of the Apollo Missions, and its stock was further diminished by the 2003 explosion of the Columbia space shuttle to its present 0.47%, its lowest since 1962 (ibtimes.com).
The United States is one of the few nations currently capable of performing the task of planetary protection. NASA still has the most funding relative to other top space agencies such as the Russian, Chinese, and European space agencies and has been more active among them with the caveat of a couple successful Chinese manned space-flights. Below is a link to a citizen created petition on whitehouse.gov about the issue, although those wishing to get involved should learn more and research the topic themselves.
Nil Sine Numine, the Colorado State Motto
Tale of a Nation in Tax Code
Keeping Americans Dumb
Brands: How Literal is the Word?
Worker’s Rights Tread on by Forced Lunch Break
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On February 20th, American soldiers once again exercised horrible judgement by burning several religious texts including copies of the Holy Qur’an on the Bagram Air Base north of Kabul. The protest that followed when Afghans who witnessed the atrocity sparked riots that ended the lives of more than two dozen Afghans and at least five U.S. soldiers. On the morning of Sunday March 11th, the Panjwayi district of Kandahar was rudely awakened by gunfire when a rogue U.S. soldier sneaks away from camp to take revenge into his own hands and grotesquely murder 16 civilians. The soldier, Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, is reportedly in custody and the tragedy is being investigated by the regional U.S. and Afghan authorities.
It’s too bad they won’t send this shooter to Guantanamo Bay, if that isn’t terrorism, then what is? This series of happenings is not particularly original, which makes it all the more troubling. When are these “soldiers” going to realize that burning the Qur’an is unacceptable? When is America going to stop starting seemingly endless wars with a mediocre, volunteer military? Whether one believes the Afghans overreacted or not, the soldiers still should have known that this would displease the people whose country they are in without welcome.
If someone decided to burn the Book of Mormon in Utah or a Bible outside of any American Church, would how do you think the pious folks would like it? It’s common sense. There is no excuse for this foolishness. I don’t care if this was the soldier’s third tour or if his best friend got killed in the aftermath of the Qur’an burning. When a person enlists in the Armed Forces, they take on a heavy responsibility. If you can’t handle war, then don’t go into it. Although the people who are truly liable for all this heartbreaking violence are those little expletives who decided to burn the Qur’an. Think before you do something, will it piss someone off who may be a little sore already? If so, don’t do it. Descanse en paz a todos los muertos.
Thanks to: LA Times, CNN Arabic, Aljazeera, and the Oman Tribune.
Alright readers, lately I’ve been without a television (gasp, sniffle) and I have had to find other ways to catch up on the news. While there are newspapers, radio stations, and websites, my favorite source of the daily news run down has been Google News. With the scroll of a mouse I can evade irrelevant drivel about sports, celebrities, and certain political articles while having several articles to choose from when I find a news story that is compelling. For example, God bless Whitney Houston, but someone dies every second of each day, and we didn’t make a big deal bout the other 155,000 people who died that day (worldometer.com). While I may write separate posts about the following two issues, I need to address them now. First, let us help the poor Syrian citizens out, even if just via NATO air strikes like we did in Libya. Second, no one start a war between Israel and Iran. Let them work it out. There are at least 8 countries that posses nuclear weapons and Israel may or may not. Personally, I’d like to see all these weapons destroyed, I’m an idealist. I don’t see Iran having nuclear weapons as being much worse than anyone else having them. I suppose my reasoning is flawed due to my hope that no one will use one because they would be afraid of mutually assured destruction. My point is, if we are going to fight, let’s fight for peace. Por favor, dios, cuida de nuestro mundo.
Detroit Christian Militia is Actually Locally Grown Terrorist Group.
Shippensburg University, PA-The content of college campus vending machines was far from newsworthy until sensationalist journalists got their noses into Cumberland Valley and got wind of Plan-B Emergency Contraceptive’s presence in Etter Health Center. Twenty five bones gets you the medication which is sitting between the pregnancy tests, the condoms, and of course the nasal decongestants. Nine-tenths of the time, it works every time, when used correctly within the first 24 hours.
The students themselves overwhelmingly asked to have the pill in the health center in a survey a few years back. While the FDA is poked and shoved into making a stink about it by pro-lifers, the vending machine is not accessible to the general public, only students who all meet the 17+ age requirement to buy the contraceptive legally. Now the Obama administration’s mandate requiring employers to provide access to birth control for their women employees has been deflected by cries of First Amendment violation by Catholics, republicans, and others. The compromise is that these institutions don’t have to provide it themselves, but their insurance companies do. Really? The insurance companies are going to be the ones doing the right thing here? Everyone knows insurance companies have absolutely no morals, just duct tape wrapped wallets.
The real issue, however, has nothing to do with religious beliefs, money, or women’s health. Our society needs to find a way to make youth and others more responsible so that they do not need emergency contraceptives. I heard a woman call in to Norman Goldman’s radio show on 760AM Colorado’s Progressive Talk last night who mentioned that an embryo is the last stage of developement which can be frozen. Goldman brushed that off, saying that Walt Disney was frozen too and that her reasoning is flawed. He’s right it shouldn’t matter who can be frozen and who cannot, although everyone could. In American society the age of adulthood and all of the assumed responsibility and independence that comes with it varies from family to family. The government recognizes different driving, gun ownership, and drinking ages, however the voting age of 18 is a constant. The assumption is that is the age of maturity according to the law. Is it arbitrary, or is there evidence that a certain stage of brain developement is generally completed then? I am not a doctor (I was an EMT-Basic), but I don’t feel qualified to determine that by myself. One thing that is clear is that everyone is different and developes at different rates and in different ways.
Back to the issue at hand, how can we ensure our citizenry and youth are responsible enough not to need emergency birth control? And does providing it make it harder to do so, due to the fact that they do have options if they have unprotected sex purposefully or unintentionally? I would like to see the need for medicines like Plan-B to be reduced, but I know society needs to work on having more normal contraceptive available to youth. While there is no age restriction for purchasing contraceptive such as condoms, there is one for Plan-B. Why?
As a society, our approach to eliminating unplanned pregnancies should be two-pronged; first we should do away with the age restriction for age restrictions like Plan-B and make free condoms, diaphragms, and preventive birth control pills more available to youth (while of course ensuring that parents are informed that their children are using these). Second we should continue to encourage abstinence–find a way to make it sexier, as well as keep our kids aware of the consequences such as STI’s and unplanned pregnancy via sex-ed classes and advertisements similar to the anti-drug ads. I see where the Catholics and republicans are coming from, but we cannot afford make contraceptives harder to acquire for our youth and even ourselves.