Texas denies woman a driver’s license because of same-sex marriage

Connie Wilson, her spouse and one of their children

A new Houston resident is upset that she was refused a legal Texas driver’s license.

When Connie Wilson, her spouse, and three kids packed up their life and moved halfway across the country to Texas, the last hurdle she expected was getting a Texas driver’s license. She was in for a surprise when she went to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) branch office in Pasadena.

Wilson presented her California marriage license to DPS employee as a secondary form of identification. She and her spouse Aimee were legally married in California, and Connie took Aimee’s last name, Wilson…

Texas doesn’t recognize same sex marriage. The DPS employee told Wilson even though she and her spouse are legally married, the certificate cannot be used to authenticate who she is. She was denied a Texas License.

Reached in Austin, DPS officials sent Eyewitness News the following statement: “To receive a Texas driver license or identification card reflecting a name change from a same-sex marriage, a court order is required.”

Wilson says she doesn’t understand why she needs to spend money on a court order when the license already states her legal name…

In addition, Wilson is worried the closing on her house could have been hampered, and her inability to vote in the upcoming election…

Frustrated, the Wilsons reached out to Texas State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), who is looking into the DPS decision.

“This is something that deeply concerns us, and we’re looking at this, because we don’t want this to happen to anyone else in Texas,” said the Senator. “This is not the way to treat someone who is relocating to our state, we need to make sure they can buy homes, get jobs, and register to vote.”

Wilson’s first mistake was presuming officials of a state as politically backwards as Texas would respond to logic.

The second was assuming Texas politicians recognize the United States of America and our Constitution as having authority and priority over the fear and ignorance of homophobic nutballs.

Hamster wheel adds exercise to popular standing desk design – sort of

Worried about the lack of exercise you get whilst sitting at your desk all day? In the belief that rodent recreational habits may hold the solution, Artist Robb Godshaw has published instructions for building his Hamster Wheel Standing Desk.

Godshaw’s design uses a wheel with an 80-in (203-cm) diameter supported by a 24-in (61-cm) wide base. The wheel rests upon four skateboard wheels, which allows it to turn fluidly as the user walks or runs inside it. Godshaw admits that the desk part of the design was actually separate. “We already had a standing desk that fits through the wheel, so it was just a matter of avoiding interference and leaving enough room for a human,” he explains…

Although the Hamster Wheel Standing Desk is a satirical take on desk-based exercise equipment, the lack of exercise individuals get whilst sat at a desk every is regarded as a significant health risk. Indeed, there are a number of products available aimed at allowing people to exercise whilst at work, including the Cubii elliptical trainer that can slide under a desk and the OfficeGym workout chair attachment.

The video up top shows the creation in operation. Though I would add the music from here.

Thanks, Mike

Healthcare transparency can lower costs – if you can make your state require it

When Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield became embroiled in a contract dispute with Exeter Hospital in New Hampshire in 2010, its negotiators came to the table armed with a new weapon: public data showing the hospital was one of the most expensive in the state for some services.

Local media covering the dispute also spotlighted the hospital’s higher costs, using public data from a state website.

When the dust settled, the insurer had extracted $10 million in concessions from Exeter. The hospital “had to step back and change their behavior,” said health policy researcher Ha Tu, who studied the state’s efforts to make healthcare prices transparent.

New Hampshire is among 14 states that require insurers to report the rates they pay different healthcare providers — and one of just a handful that makes those prices available to consumers. The theory is that if consumers know what different providers charge for medical services, they will become better shoppers and collectively save billions.

In most places, though, it’s difficult if not impossible to find out how much you will be charged for medical care…

In response, some hospitals are putting some prices on their websites — usually list prices, which are much higher than what most people would actually pay. Some insurers also provide enrollees with cost estimates, while free websites, such as Healthcare Bluebook and Fair Health, offer some cost information.

Still, in many cases, the data is limited or is restricted to enrollees in specific health plans. That’s why business groups in almost two dozen additional states have sought laws to require insurers to report what they pay providers…

Right about here the article wanders off into marketplace analysis and pressures. Useful; but, the sort of discussion that doesn’t change policy. Especially if you live in a state with a legislature run by Republicans or Blue Dog Democrats. Still more likely to cop paybacks from state and regional corporations than the national-class robber barons.

Continue reading

The Arctic’s devastating transformation

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Click on the image to reach Camille Seaman’s gallery of photographs

There was no snow, no sea ice anywhere to be seen. These would be my last days in Svalbard in August of 2011.

The only snow was in the many glaciers that bled deafening waterfalls into milky turquoise-colored fjords and into the dark sea. I lowered my gaze, averted my eyes whenever someone on the ship said to me, “See you next season!” I knew I was finished.

The Arctic had been transformed over the decade I had spent documenting through the lens of my camera. I was the ship’s expedition photographer. My photographs were about awe and beauty. To return here would mean documenting the devastation. This place was sacred to me, it was like no where else on the planet.

It broke my heart knowing I would not return

We are out of time. There is no safe place left to be apathetic.

This Earth Day is perhaps similar to many others that came before it. It is a call to consider our biosphere. It remains a call to honor the place that gives you safe haven from the dark cold emptiness of space. It is a day to stand up and declare what aspect of life on this planet you will lend your voice, your support, your time and energy to protecting.

Please RTFA. Read it all. Click on the photo up top to get to Camille Seaman’s gallery. I think you will feel her love for what she has captured. What she is losing.

What we all are losing.

Thanks, Mike