France becomes 14th country to legalize gay marriage

France legalized gay marriage on Tuesday after a wrenching national debate that has exposed deep social conservatism in the nation’s heartland and triggered huge protests in Paris from both sides of the divide. Legions of officers with water cannon braced outside the National Assembly for possible violence on an issue that galvanized the country’s faltering right.

The measure passed easily in the Socialist-majority Assembly, 331-225…

Justice Minister Christiane Taubira told lawmakers that the first weddings could be as soon as June.

“We believe that the first weddings will be beautiful and that they’ll bring a breeze of joy, and that those who are opposed to them today will surely be confounded when they are overcome with the happiness of the newlyweds and the families,” she said…

One of the biggest protests against same-sex marriage drew together hundreds of thousands of people bused in from the French provinces — conservative activists, schoolchildren with their parents, retirees, priests and others. That demonstration ended in blasts of tear gas, as right-wing rabble-rousers, some in masks and hoods, led the charge against police, damaging cars along the Champs-Elysees avenue and making a break for the presidential palace.

Following the vote members of the gay and lesbian community flocked to a square in central Paris, just behind City Hall, to celebrate the vote.

“I feel immense joy, gigantic joy,” said 39-year old Sylvain Rouzel, “at last, everyone has the same rights. This is huge! France was lagging behind. We had to wait 14 years after the civil union to finally obtain the right to get married, with equal rights for everyone. I feel great!”

Paris’ openly gay mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, was among the crowd of hundreds gathered for the street celebration in the Marais, the city’s historic gay neighborhood…

The controversy that we’ve seen has been a stoked and manipulated controversy that’s really kind of a last-ditch attempt to block the tide of history,” said Evan Wolfson, president of the American activist group Freedom to Marry, which he said worked with the French on the bill. “I don’t think it spoke to a deep or wide opposition among the French people.”

French civil unions, allowed since 1999, are at least as popular among heterosexuals as among gay and lesbian couples. But that law has no provisions for adoption…

France is the 14th country to legalize gay marriage nationwide —and the largest population. If the United States still pretended to any social or cultural leadership we could strike a real blow for civil rights.

Of course, with so-called leadership coming from a mostly spineless White House – and Congress divided between windbags and colostomy bags – there ain’t much chance of the United States providing leadership to a lemming.

Foreplay

Warming up for sex under infrared lights – photographer Leonhard Foeger documented the process as workers collect semen from breeding bulls at an artificial insemination centre in Hohenzell, Upper Austria.

Warm is good.

Need your teeth fixed cheap? Go and see “El Dentista” over there – in the red Chevy!

A man who calls himself “El Dentista” is facing charges after Santa Fe police say the unlicensed tooth doctor was found operating as a “mobile dentist” out of a sedan around town.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that 36-year-old Eliver Kestler, also known as Eliver Lopez, was arrested Saturday following a tip from a former customer.

According to police, investigators discovered Kestler with a portable drill machine and other dental equipment in a small, red Chevrolet sedan.

Authorities say Kestler told police that he had a dentistry license in Mexico but no license in the U.S. Kestler, who was wearing blue hospital scrubs when he met with police, was arrested on a number of charges, including practicing dentistry without a license.

It was unclear if he had an attorney.

You have to understand there is nothing surprising about this story, here in the Southwest. Especially in New Mexico.

That’s not a mutant crab monster chasing squirrels – it’s a robot inspecting powerlines

If you look up at a power line in a few years and see something skittering along the wires, it (hopefully) won’t be a mutant crab monster, but a powerline inspection robot costing less than $1,000. A prototype of such a robot, called SkySweeper, was presented this month at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo. The robot was built with off-the-shelf electronics and plastic parts printed on an inexpensive 3D printer.

Inspecting power and other utility lines is a long, arduous and often dangerous task. Sending a worker out to work on high-tension cables, for example, means either shutting off the power or employing a complex ballet of helicopters, protective clothing and elaborate static charge equalizing maneuvers. There are robots that can carry out wire inspections, but they have distinct disadvantages.

“Current line inspection robots are large, complex, and expensive. Utility companies may also use manned or unmanned helicopters equipped with infrared imaging to inspect lines,” said Nick Morozovsky, a graduate student in mechanical engineering. “This is much simpler.”

SkySweeper was designed by Morozovsky at UCSD’s Coordinated Robotics Lab working under mechanical and aerospace engineering professor Tom Bewley. Looking a bit like a cable car for squirrels, the current design is V-shaped and uses a motor-driven “elbow” in the middle. This elbow pivots the arms that have clamps at their ends that alternately grasp and release the cables to inch the robot along…

While the elbow motor is currently powered by an off the shelf battery, Morozovsky says it would be possible to equip the robot with induction coils so that it could be powered indefinitely by the power line itself.

Way cool. Way smart. And power transmission utilities are probably sharp enough to realize this critter makes economic and engineering sense.