Monthly Archives: June 2012

SKYWATCH: FIRST PRIVATELY-FUNDED SPACE TELESCOPE, OBSERVING A LEAP SECOND, AND MORE

News
Sentinel spacecraft in orbit

B612 Foundation / Ball Aerospace

B612 Debuts Its Asteroid-Seeking Sentinel

June 29, 2012 | Astronomers warn that it’s not a question of “if” Earth will be hit by an asteroid, but “when.” If a private group of space veterans has its way, a Sun-orbiting spacecraft will find threatening objects decades before they can strike us. > read more

How to Grow a Supermassive Black Hole

June 28, 2012 | A new study says most black holes may grow by snacking instead of collision-induced feeding frenzies. > read more

Wanted: A Little Common (Sky) Sense

June 25, 2012 | When it comes to things astronomical, why do so many people with no knowledge of the sky try to figure things out for themselves — and come to the wrong conclusions? > read more

Seeing Exoplanets in a New Light

June 27, 2012 | Researchers have devised a way to peek at the atmospheres of non-transiting exoplanets. The method may prove to be a valuable tool in astronomers’ efforts to characterize planets outside our solar system. > read more

Observing

Father Time

Wikimedia

A Glitch in Time

June 29, 2012 | Tomorrow night — June 30, 2012 — the world’s official timekeepers will add a leap second for the first time in 3½ years. > read more

Possible Nova in Sagittarius

June 27, 2012 | If you’ve got a clear, dark view toward the southern horizon, try your hand at spotting a flaring star that has brightened to near 9th magnitude in northwest Sagittarius. > read more

Tour July’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

May 30, 2012 | This month, you can see a pair of planets before sunrise and another pair after sunset. In each case, one of them is situated near a bright star. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Dawn view

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

June 29, 2012 | The Moon waxes to full in the evening sky, passing Scorpius on the way. And Venus and Jupiter get together again like last March — but this time in the dawn. > read more

SkyWeek Television Show
View SkyWeek as seen on PBS click here to watch this week’s episodeSponsored by Meade Instruments

June 25 - July 1, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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COLORLINES: RACEBLIND AT THE SUPREME COURT

What’s Next for Arizona and ‘Show Me Your Papers’ Laws?

The legal wrangling is not nearly done. The Supreme Court let the law stand based on the administration’s colorblind challenge, but justices invited a future debate over racial profiling. Seth Freed Wessler reports.

Also: What the Supreme Court’s Health Care Ruling Means for Racial Justice

The People of Arizona Won’t Comply With Hate

Mónica Novoa says lost in the legal back-and-forth of this week’s Supreme Court ruling on Arizona’s SB 1070 is a simple fact: immigrants are human beings, and this fight is deeply personal.

‘Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta’ Shouldn’t Embarrass Black and Brown Women

Instead of focusing on the misdeeds of individual cast members, Akiba Solomon says we need to take a look at the exploitative industry that shapes their fate.

Eric Holder’s New Role as Right Wing Boogeyman What does Holder’s defense of voting rights have to do with a House committee move to hold him in contempt? Everything.

El Salvador’s Historic Gang Truce May Show Pathway to Peace in the U.S. Activists in the United States are watching closely as El Salvador works to address the root causes of gang violence.

Indy Rapper Brother Ali’s #Occupation in Black Minneapolis Brother Ali hasn’t always seen his work as political commentary. But just ahead of his third studio album, all of that changed when he got arrested while occupying a foreclosed home in his old neighborhood.

Junot Diaz Talks About Why He Writes About Race Paula M. L. Moya, says she’s always been struck by how interviewers avoid asking Dominican-American fiction author Junot Diaz about race, even though he writes about race.

Groundbreaking ‘Today’ Co-Host Ann Curry Bids Emotional Farewell When Ann Curry first appeared on NBC’s “Today Show” 15 years ago, there weren’t many faces like hers on morning television.

Katy Perry Wants to Skin Japanese People and ‘Wear Them Like Versace’ Pop singer Katy Perry was a guest on Jimmy Kimmel’s show Monday night and made some controversial statements.

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UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT RULES ON PRESIDENT OBAMA’S AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ACT

Well, it is official:

The United States Supreme Court has rendered its ruling on President Obama’s healthcare package.

The Court left standing the basic provisions of the health care overhaul, ruling that the government may use its taxation powers to push people to buy health insurance. The narrowly delineated decision was a victory for President Obama and Congressional Democrats, with a 5-to-4 majority, including the conservative chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr. This may not even approach the type of healthcare that exists in say, Norway, it is by far not a complete overhaul of the U.S. healthcare situation, but, it is a win for the citizens of the United States of America, as it is at least a beginning of creating healthcare that cares for this nation’s citizens.

President Obama Statement on Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Health Care Act

And no sooner said than done, reactions were swift on this proposed healthcare:

Mitt Romney: I Will Repeal Health Care Law

For more on the Affordable Health Care Act, the following information is provided:

INCREASING ACCESS TO AFFORDABLE CARE:

The Affordable Care Act Becomes Law

March 23, 2010

On March 23, 2010, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act. The law puts in place comprehensive health insurance reforms that will roll out over four years and beyond, with most changes taking place by 2014. Others have already begun. Use this timeline to learn about what’s changing and when.

Changes to note:

  • 50% discount for name-brand drugs in the Medicare “donut hole”
  • Expanded coverage for young adults
  • Small business tax credits
  • Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans

SOURCE

To access the Court’s ruling, click  here.

Major points of interests in the Court’s ruling:

Opinion of the Court by Chief Justice Roberts p. 7
Opinion of Justice Ginsburg p. 66
Dissenting Opinion p. 127
Opinion of Justice Thomas p. 192

Supreme Court Lets Health Law Largely Stand, in Victory for Obama

By ADAM LIPTAK

In a striking victory for President Obama and Congressional Democrats, the chief justice, John G. Roberts Jr., affirmed the central legislative pillar of Mr. Obama’s term.

So, readers, since the court’s decision was not unanimous, what are your thoughts on the Supreme Court’s ruling? What are your thoughts on Justice Thomas’ dissention?  Finally, what are your views on President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act, now that it is constitutional law?

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HATEWATCH: HATEWATCH ROUNDUP: JUNE 20, 2012 – JUNE 27, 2012

This week’s Hatewatch Roundup has Anson Chi, a Texas pipeline bomber with radical views; neo-Nazi Bill White, who says America is a “Demonic Dream”; a UFO cult that celebrates “World Swastika Rehabilitation Day”; Pam Geller, who is Jewish, and a Muslim-basher, whose lecture at the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles was cancelled; Ronald L. Brekke, a “sovereign” tax cheat, who was given 12 years, for bilking millions from the U.S. Treasury; J.T. Ready, the neo-Nazi border vigilante who killed himself and four others in a domestic dispute in May. He was twice caught forcibly detaining immigrants in the Arizona desert last year, but federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against him, according to newly released documents; and Gary Kreep, a longtime antigovernment activist, “birther” and hate group leader who uses anti-Obama rhetoric as a proxy for anti-Muslim hate, who emerged as the winner in the California race for a seat on San Diego’s Superior Court.

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Texas Pipeline Bomber Held Radical-Right Views

by Zachary Conn on June 27, 2012

The man accused of trying to bomb a Dallas-area natural gas facility last weekend appears to be a sympathizer of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement who for years has used the Internet to espouse hatred and suspicion of the federal government.

Anson Chi, 33, faces federal charges for possessing the homemade bomb used in the June 17 bombing in Plano, Texas. The explosion caused only minor damage to a pipeline and a regulator station but badly injured the suspect.

In 2007, Chi posted a YouTube video honoring Ed and Elaine Brown, a New Hampshire couple lionized on the radical right for their months-long standoff against U.S. marshals following years of tax evasion. Tearing up a federal income tax form, Chi professed the belief, common among sovereigns, that Americans are secretly permitted to not pay the tax. ( continue to full post… )

Neo-Nazi Bill White: U.S. is a ‘Demonic Dream’

by Leah Nelson on June 27, 2012

Bill White, the Virginia neo-Nazi and convicted felon who was arrested in Mexico earlier this month and faces federal charges of violating the terms of his supervised release, appears to have suffered some kind of mental breakdown.

In a series of letters to supporters and federal authorities, the notorious Internet gossip, who was released in April 2011 after spending more than two years in prison on multiple charges of threatening enemies through intimidating phone calls and Internet postings, wrote that the United States is a “demonic dream,” and that he has broken free of its hold.

White has been in federal custody since his June 8 arrest in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Last week, according to Roanoke’s WDB7, he sent a letter to federal authorities claiming that, while in prison, he was given drugs that led him to communicate “with beings that … allowed [him] to explore certain hidden and obscured aspects of human experience.” ( continue to full post… )

UFO Cult Celebrates World Swastika Rehabilitation Day

by Leah Nelson on June 26, 2012

Celebrants of World Swastika Rehabilitation Day, who on Saturday arranged to have a swastika-festooned banner flown along Manhattan and the New Jersey shore, are expressing bafflement and outrage over the barrage of complaints their festivities invited.

“Why should the swastika, a symbol of peace for more than 1.5 billion people in the world, offend the people of Manhattan?” asked Thomas Kaenzig, coordinator of the event, in a press release. “Any negative emotions regarding the swastika by people under the age of 70 years old are obviously linked to their education and not to their experiences. It’s about time people were re-educated to understand the original meaning of the oldest and most recurrent symbol in the world.”

The event was organized by followers of the “Raelian movement,” a publicity-loving UFO cult founded by a French race car driver and journalist who claims to be the son of an extraterrestrial named Yahweh and a half-brother to Jesus, Moses and Buddha. ( continue to full post… )

Muslim-Basher Geller Dropped from Jewish Speaking Engagement

by Hatewatch Staff on June 25, 2012

The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles canceled a lecture it was going to host by Pam Geller (who is Jewish) just hours before it was supposed to be delivered Sunday morning. The Western Region Chapter of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), was sponsoring Geller’s speech, “Islamic Jew Hatred as the Root

Cause of Failure to Achieve Peace.”

The ZOA is a Jewish advocacy organization that claims more than 30,000 members and bills itself as the oldest pro-Israel group in America, involving itself in educating people about the “truth of the ongoing and relentless Arab war against Israel” and fighting things like “Arab propaganda” on campuses. ( continue to full post… )

‘Sovereign’ Tax Cheat Bilked Millions from Treasury; Gets 12 Years

by Bill Morlin on June 25, 2012

An antigovernment “tax-cheat guru” who claims the federal government has no authority over him found out differently last week when a judge ordered him to spend 12 years behind bars and pay $6.2 million in restitution.

Ronald L. Brekke, 55, of Orange County, Calif., helped nearly 1,000 people in three countries file for a total of $763 million in bogus tax refunds from the U.S. Treasury.

IRS officials say they “flagged the vast majority” of the filings from Brekke and his clients as frivolous. Even so, some $14 million in tax refunds was paid out before the agency detected the fraud. ( continue to full post… )

Documents: Neo-Nazi Murderer J.T. Ready Detained Immigrants in Desert

by Bill Morlin on June 22, 2012

J.T. Ready, the neo-Nazi border vigilante who killed himself and four others in a domestic dispute in May, was twice caught forcibly detaining immigrants in the Arizona desert last year, but federal prosecutors declined to bring charges against him, according to newly released documents.

The documents were posted online today by Talking Points Memo, which obtained them under the Freedom of Information Act. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Phoenix has declined comment.

“The new documents from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection paint a picture of some of the things that caused federal agents concern,” writes Nick R. Martin on the TPM Muckraker blog. “Ready not only routinely caused headaches for the real U.S. Border Patrol but also sparked some volatile and potentially dangerous situations.” ( continue to full post… )

Hate Group Leader to Serve as California State Judge

by Leah Nelson on June 20, 2012

Gary Kreep, a longtime antigovernment activist, “birther” and hate group leader who uses anti-Obama rhetoric as a proxy for anti-Muslim hate, has emerged victorious in a tight race for a seat on San Diego’s Superior Court, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports.

Kreep, who received the San Diego County Bar Association’s lowest rating of “lacking qualifications,” beat opponent Garland Peed, a deputy district attorney of 27 years who received the county bar association’s highest rating and who was supported by local police unions and sitting judges.

The San Diego Superior Court is part of the state’s trial court system, which handles a wide variety of cases, including civil lawsuits and felony criminal cases. Kreep will serve a six-year term and earn an annual salary of $178,789. ( continue to full post… )

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. . . .AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT: “THROUGH THE FIRE” (1984)

Through the fire.

To desire to go through anything for a person you loved to the ultimate level.

Through the fire.

With your back against the wall.

To go the limit, and then some.

To gladly risk it all, just for that person’s love and presence.

The person who could evoke such a profound response in the person who loved them….what a person that would be.

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I look in your eyes and I can see

We’ve loved so dangerously

You’re not trusting your heart to anyone

You tell me you’re gonna play it smart

We’re through before we start

But I believe that we’ve only just begun
When it’s this good, there’s no saying no I want you so, I’m ready to go
CHORUS:

Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall

For a chance to be with you I’d gladly risk it all

Through the fire

Through whatever, come what may

For a chance at loving you I’d take it all the way

Right down to the wire

Even through the fire
I know you’re afraid of what you feel

You still need time to heal

And I can help if you’ll only let me try

You touch me and something in me knew

What I could have with you

Now I’m not ready to kiss that dream goodbye
When it’s this sweet, there’s no saying no

I need you so, I’m ready to go
CHORUS:

Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall

For a chance to be with you I’d gladly risk it all

Through the fire

Through whatever, come what may

For a chance at loving you I’d take it all the way

Right down to the wire

Even through the fire

Through the test of time

Through the fire, to the limit, to the wall

For a chance to be with you I’d gladly risk it all

Through the fire

Through whatever, come what may

For a chance at loving you I’d take it all the way

Right down to the wire

Even through the fire
CHORUS
To the wire, to the limit

Through the fire, through whatever

Through the fire, to the limit

Through the fire, through whatever

Through the fire, to the limit

Through the fire, through whatever.

(form the album, I Feel For You, released on October 1, 1984. Written by David Foster, Tom Keane, Cynthia Weil).

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INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE: JUNE 26, 2012

INTERNATIONAL DAY IN SUPPORT OF VICTIMS OF TORTURE

Quick Facts

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is annually observed on June 26 to remind people that human torture is not only unacceptable – it is also a crime.

Local names

Name Language
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture English
Día Internacional en Apoyo de las Víctimas de la Tortura Spanish

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2012

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The United Nations’ (UN) International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is annually observed on June 26 to remind people that human torture is not only unacceptable – it is also a crime.

UN International Day in Support of Victims of TortureThe UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture serves as a reminder to people that human torture is a crime.  ©iStockphoto.com/ Ryan Klos

What do people do?

Rehabilitation centers and human rights organizations around the world celebrate the UN’s International Day in Support of Victims of Torture on June 26 each year. The day serves as a reminder to people that torture is a crime. This event gives everyone a chance to unite and voice their opinions against human torture.

Organizations, including the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims and Amnesty International, have played an active role in organizing events around the world to promote the day. Activities may include: photo exhibitions; the distribution of posters and other material to boost people’s awareness of issues related to human torture; and television advertisements.

Public life

The International Day in Support of Victims of Torture is not a public holiday and public life is not affected.

Background

On June 26, 1987, the Convention against Torture came into force. It was an important step in the process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging that torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment should be universally illegal. In 1997 the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated June 26 each year as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

The first International Day in Support of Victims of Torture was held on June 26, 1998. It was a day when the United Nations appealed to all governments and members of civil society to take action to defeat torture and torturers everywhere. That same year marked the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which proclaims that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.

Symbols

The United Nations’ logo is often associated with marketing and promotional material for this event. It features a projection of a world map (less Antarctica) centered on the North Pole, enclosed by olive branches. The olive branches are a symbol for peace, and the world map represents all the people of the world. The logo appears in colors such as black on a white or light yellow background.

International Day in Support of Victims of Torture Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Fri Jun 26 1998 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Sat Jun 26 1999 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Mon Jun 26 2000 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Tue Jun 26 2001 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Wed Jun 26 2002 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Thu Jun 26 2003 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Sat Jun 26 2004 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Sun Jun 26 2005 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Mon Jun 26 2006 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Tue Jun 26 2007 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Thu Jun 26 2008 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Fri Jun 26 2009 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Sat Jun 26 2010 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Sun Jun 26 2011 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Tue Jun 26 2012 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Wed Jun 26 2013 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Thu Jun 26 2014 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance
Fri Jun 26 2015 International Day in Support of Victims of Torture United Nations observance

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IN REMEMBRANCE OF RICHARD AND MILDRED LOVING: THE 45TH ANNIVERSARY OF LOVING VS. THE STATE OF VIRGINIA

This past June 12, 2012, marked the 45TH Anniversary of the Supreme Court rendering of its famous Loving vs. Virginia ruling on June 12, 1967.

Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter.

They were just a man and a woman who wished to live their lives in peace, but for the intrusions of the state of Virginia and its fining and imprisoning them both under its Racial Integrity Act of 1924, the Lovings took their case to the highest court in the land and won the right to remain as husband and wife.

In honor of their memories, I will let photos and their own words speak to the eloquence and love they had for each other, and how their simple act in defiance of a state’s racist laws could not destroy their bonds of holy matrimony.

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Mildred and Richard Loving April 1965. Photo credit ~ Grey Villet

Richard and Mildred Loving (AP photo).

Estate of Grey Villet Richard and Mildred Loving in the spring of 1965.

 

Richard Loving (to the attorneys who presented the Loving’s case before the Supreme Court):

“Tell the court, I love my wife”.

Mildred Loving (on June 12, 2007, in a statement issued on the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling):

“My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the ‘wrong kind of person’ for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight, seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.”

Photo source Bettmann/Corbis via New York Times

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