Court rules states can’t ban gay marriage


Derek Kitchen and Moudi Sbeity, winning plaintiffs — their dog’s name is Goji

A federal appeals court has ruled…that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.

The judges added they don’t want to brand as intolerant those who oppose gay marriage, but they said there is no reasonable objection to the practice.

“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the judges wrote, addressing arguments that the ruling could undermine traditional marriage.

The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the court: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. However, gay marriages won’t be happening in the near future because the panel immediately put its ruling on hold pending an appeal…

And everyone knows we can count upon the intolerant and bigoted to appeal this decision.

The decision gives increased momentum to a legal cause that already has compiled an impressive record in the lower courts after the Supreme Court last year struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Since then, 16 federal judges have issued rulings siding with gay marriage advocates…

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said blah, blah, blah, blah.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement on its website blah, blah, blah, blah.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert in a statement said blah, blah, blah, blah.

Now same-sex marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia. Recent polls show a majority of Americans support it.

Concepts advanced in times of ignorance need to be reexamined in the context of society, science and knowledge growing over time. Only fools accept textbooks as unchanging and fixed. Yet, the weakest among our species, the least educated and those who profit from fear would keep this nation and the world in darkness centuries old.

Oh yeah, you can count Indiana, now, too.🙂

2,370 irreplaceable places identified


Click to enlargeU.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Pacific Region

From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, a new study calculates the ‘irreplaceability’ of ecosystems and ranks their importance to threatened or endangered species.

An international team of scientists has made a list of Earth’s most “irreplaceable” places, highlighting more than 2,300 unique habitats that are key to the survival of rare wildlife. The goal of their research, published in the journal Science, is to help wildlife managers make existing parks and nature preserves more effective at preventing extinction…

The study offers an irreplaceability score for 2,178 protected areas and 192 proposed sites, ranking their importance to rare wildlife in general and to specific biological groups. It also lists 78 “exceptionally irreplaceable” sites, which host the majority of the populations of some 600 bird, amphibian and mammal species, half of which are threatened. Many of the places already have UNESCO World Heritage protection, but half of the total land they cover does not. That includes the most irreplaceable site on Earth for threatened species, according to the study: Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Natural National Park.

RTFA for the full list, photos and description of a few of the most notable.

I’d rather fight to protect them all – and maybe the whole human race in the process. That’s where my priorities start. Not at profit optimization.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

A diamond in space — the size of Earth


B.Saxton (NRAO/AUI/NSF)

“It’s a really remarkable object,” said David Kaplan, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. “These things should be out there, but because they are so dim they are very hard to find.”

Kaplan and his colleagues found this stellar gem using the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s (NRAO) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) and Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), as well as other observatories.

White dwarfs are the extremely dense end-states of stars like our Sun that have collapsed to form an object approximately the size of Earth. Composed mostly of carbon and oxygen, white dwarfs slowly cool and fade over billions of years. The object in this new study is likely the same age as the Milky Way, approximately 11 billion years old…

The pulsar companion to this white dwarf, dubbed PSR J2222-0137, was the first object in this system to be detected. It was found using the GBT by Jason Boyles, then a graduate student at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

These first observations revealed that the pulsar was spinning more than 30 times each second and was gravitationally bound to a companion star, which was initially identified as either another neutron star or, more likely, an uncommonly cool white dwarf. The two were calculated to orbit each other once every 2.45 days…

Knowing its location with such high precision and how bright a white dwarf should appear at that distance, the astronomers believed they should have been able to observe it in optical and infrared light…Remarkably, neither the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope in Chile nor the 10-meter Keck telescope in Hawaii was able to detect it…

The researchers calculated that the white dwarf would be no more than a comparatively cool 3,000 degrees Kelvin (2,700 degrees Celsius). Our Sun at its center is about 5,000 times hotter.

Astronomers believe that such a cool, collapsed star would be largely crystallized carbon, not unlike a diamond. Other such stars have been identified and they are theoretically not that rare, but with a low intrinsic brightness, they can be deucedly difficult to detect. Its fortuitous location in a binary system with a neutron star enabled the team to identify this one.

If it was just coal, I could see Congress voting funds to go out and bring back chunks to, say, West Virginia.