Michigan city to remove law against willfully annoying people

On our way!

A law forbidding willfully annoying another person is about to be removed from the Grand Rapids, Mich., city code, the city attorney said…”It’s unconstitutional in terms of being vague. It’s simply unenforceable,” Catherine Mish, city attorney, said of the 38-year-old law.

The City Commission is expected to strike the wording from the code, the Grand Rapids Press said Tuesday, noting assault, battery, molestation and endangerment of life remains illegal.

Mish has been scouring the city code for archaic rules worthy of removal.

She said the law against disobeying a police officer does not apply to motor vehicles, apparently making it legal to keep driving if pulled over by a police officer.

The law against leaving a restaurant without paying is also muddy, Mish says, noting such cases are currently prosecuted under existing language that prohibits people from taking or removing property not their own.

She has not, however, proposed a change in a 1960s-era law prohibiting the carrying of guns in the city, an ordinance that has prompted demonstrations by gun advocates, the newspaper noted.

I am sometimes accused of willfully annoying people – online – though never accused of being a troll. My habit of pointing out ignorance of history, law, philosophy and science certainly pisses off the expected sector of political animals often in possession of a sixth-grade education at best. The rest of those I tend to offend often have a second-rate ideology they’re stuck into defending for what reason I can’t guess.

I’ll have to peer into New Mexico’s often out-of-date legal code and see if I should be worrying about one more political arrest on my rap sheet. This time for annoying some True Believer, True Local or other.

Meanwhile, the core answer I seek with my questions is significant. Are reactionaries generally stupid or ignorant.

Same-sex marriage ruled constitutional by the NM Supreme Court

“We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law” – Justice Chavez, New Mexico Supreme Court, December 19, 2013

This news just broke: The New Mexico Supreme Court affirms that our state constitution affirms the right to marry for same-sex couples!

Every progressive organization in New Mexico, everyone who fights for constitutional protection, economic freedom and protections under the law for every citizen in New Mexico is out on the streets celebrating. My emailbox is filled with folks who worked to press this case. The chimes of freedom ring throughout New Mexico even if the churches of official New Mexico are silent.

Folks who support freedom in New Mexico are fortunate in that many of our elected officials supported this struggle. With the exception of the sole Republican in New Mexico’s delegation to Congress support has been solid. Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham will be at celebrations throughout the state tonight. They’re posting congratulations at various social media sites and I for one will be spending a bit of time, this afternoon, wending my way through to “liking” each one of them.

Here’s a link to the official proclamation from the State Supreme Court.

Same-sex marriage is now the law in England and Wales

Same-sex couples will be able to get married in England and Wales after new measures became law.

The government’s controversial legislation on the issue received Royal Assent on Wednesday.

The Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaderships all backed the proposals, which were finally approved by MPs and peers earlier this week.

Continuing to call a measure “controversial” after all three major parties backed the proposals is only a comment on the BBC worrying about offending the few churchgoers left in the UK.

It is expected that the first gay and lesbian wedding ceremonies will take place by summer next year.

Under the terms of the the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, religious organisations will have to “opt in” to offering weddings, with the Church of England and Church in Wales being banned in law from doing so.

Commons Speaker John Bercow announced the bill had received Royal Assent – the formal approval of the sovereign required for all legislation. The news was greeted with cheers in the Commons chamber…

There will also be a review of whether groups such as the humanists will be allowed to carry out marriages, while ministers said they were prepared to look at eliminating any difference in the treatment of gay couples when it came to pension schemes.

During the Commons debate, Equalities Minister Maria Miller said the passing of the bill was “clear affirmation” that “respect for each and every person is paramount, regardless of age, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality”, she added.

Religious groups which traditionally support civil rights will opt-in, no doubt. Conservatives, cowards, cookie-cutter reactionaries will continue to whine until their children finally stop inviting them for holiday dinners – and they run out of people polite enough to listen to them.

Of course, all the reasons for passage of this law in the UK are as legitimate here in the United States. But, then, neither the White House nor Congress has sufficient courage to challenge bigots and backwards ideology.

First same-sex couple married in France


Click to enlargeREUTERS/Philippe Laurenson

Vincent Autin (L) and Bruno Boileau (R) kiss on the terrace of the city hall after they were married in Montpellier, May 29, 2013. The two men are the first same-sex couple to marry in France under a reform which has stoked some of the ugliest protests in the country in decades. The law, backed by most French and feted by gay and lesbians as it came into force this month, makes France the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage despite heated street protests by conservatives, Catholics and extreme-right groups.

Bravo!

Uruguay becomes 3rd American nation to legalise gay marriage

Uruguayan lawmakers voted on Wednesday to legalise gay marriage, making the South American country the third in the Americas to do so.

Supporters of the law, who had filled the public seats in the Senate, erupted in celebration when the results were announced. The bill received the backing of 71 members of the 92-seat chamber…

The “marriage equality project,” as it is called, was already approved by ample majorities in both of Uruguay’s legislative houses, but senators had made some changes requiring a final vote by the deputies.

President Jose Mujica’s ruling Broad Front majority, which backed the law, is expected to put it into effect within 10 days…

The vote makes Uruguay the third country in the Americas, after Canada and Argentina, to eliminate laws making marriage, adoption and other family rights exclusive to heterosexuals. In all, 11 other nations around the world have already taken this step.

Whereas some other countries have carved out new territory for gay and lesbian couples without affecting heterosexual marrieds, Uruguay is creating a single set of rules for all people, gay or straight. Instead of the words “husband and wife” in marriage contracts, it refers to the gender-neutral “contracting parties.”

All couples will get to decide which parent’s surname comes first when they have children. All couples can adopt, or undergo in-vitro fertilization procedures.

It also updates divorce laws in Uruguay, which in 1912 gave women only the right to unilaterally renounce their wedding vows as a sort of equaliser to male power. Now either spouse will be able to unilaterally request a divorce and get one.

People danced in the streets.

There was a time in my life when living in the United States meant you participated in the formation of progress for all the nations in this hemisphere. Not any more, man.

Colorado lawmakers pass bill for same-sex civil unions


Speaker of the House, Mark Ferrandino, addressing the House before the vote

Colorado lawmakers approved a bill on Tuesday to legalize same-sex civil unions, and the U.S. state’s Democratic governor, who has indicated his support, was expected to sign the measure into law.

The Colorado House Democrats said the measure, which passed by a 39-26 vote in the state House of Representatives, would provide benefits, protections and responsibilities to gay couples similar to those granted heterosexual pairs.

The measure had already been approved by the state Senate.

This bill is about three simple things: it’s about love, it’s about family and it’s about equality under the law,” Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, an openly gay Democrat and a sponsor of the bill, told fellow lawmakers.

Nine U.S. states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. Voters in Washington state, Maine and Maryland last November became the first in the nation to approve same-sex marriage at the ballot box.

Eight other states allow civil unions, according to gay rights group the Human Rights Campaign.

On Monday, lawmakers in the House rejected a number of Republican-sponsored amendments to the bill.

What? Did you think it was only Republicans in Congress who immerse themselves in the religious practice of “NO”? Local members of the species can be just as backwards.

Actually, two Republicans joined Democrats in passing the legislation. Two Republican women.

Canadian National sent trainloads of biodiesel back and forth over the border – made millions never unloading the tankers

Tanker cars
Well, it looked like this number – on paper

A CBC News investigation has uncovered a cross-border mystery involving unexplained shipments of biodiesel tanker cars that were sent back and forth numerous times between Canada and the U.S. by CN Rail but were never unloaded.

According to leaked internal CN documents, the rail company stood to make $2.6 million for the effort…

Here comes the papier-mâché excuse:

“CN received shipping directions from the customer, which, under law, it has an obligation to meet,” CN Rail spokesman Mark Hallman said last week. “CN discharged its obligations with respect to those movements in strict compliance with its obligations as a common carrier, and was compensated accordingly.”

When asked whether CN wasn’t helping to do something strange, Hallman responded: “CN met its obligations as a common carrier and we have no further comment.”

CN employees, although guarded, were more candid…“In 25 years, I’d never done anything like it,” one railway worker told CBC News on the condition he not be named for fear he might be fired. “The clerk told me it was some kind of money grab. We just did what we were told…”

“This unit train will move at least once daily to Port Huron starting on Tuesday, June 18,” said an email written by Teresa Edwards, CN’s manager of transportation for Port Huron/Sarnia.

It will “clear customs and return to Sarnia. If we can get in more flips back and forth we will attempt to do so. Each move per car across the border is revenue generated for Sarnia/Port Huron.

“It will be the same cars flipping back and forth and the product will stay on the car…”

Each shipment generated bills of lading, customs import and export forms that suggest total biodiesel shipments of 1,984 cars — which, taken together, would be valued in the hundreds of millions.

The U.S. biodiesel companies listed as customers were HeroBX and Northern Biodiesel. Northern Biodiesel did not answer calls, and it is unclear whether it is still operating as a business. CBC News called HeroBX repeatedly, but it has refused to respond…

RTFA for more of the same. There is a portion of North American capitalism completely absorbed in shuffling papers – with the complicity of local, regional and national bureaucrats – which produces a profit solely on the basis of manipulation. Entirely antithetical to the intent of law, commerce and justice. But, then, that doesn’t matter if it turns a profit, eh?

Dutch scrap archaic blasphemy law

Dutch authorities have decided to approve a motion abandoning a law under which it is a crime to insult God.

A majority of parties in parliament said the blasphemy law was no longer relevant in the 21st Century…

The legislation, introduced in the 1930s, has not been invoked in the last half century. However, it still remains illegal under Dutch law to be disrespectful to police officers or to insult Queen Beatrix, the country’s monarch…

The BBC’s Anna Holligan, in The Hague, says that there was much debate about the issue after a Dutch court ruled that the far-right anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders should be allowed to criticise Islam, even if his outspoken opinions offended many Muslims.

In 2008, a coalition government decided against repealing the blasphemy law in order to maintain support from a conservative Christian political party.

But, sooner or later, even the opportunism of professional politicians will be overcome by freedom-loving voters. Eventually, people realize that most “coalitions” are arranged to share power – not principles.

French President keeps his promise to fight for gay civil rights


BTW – President Hollande and Valerie Trierweile aren’t married – they’re partners

French ministers grappled Wednesday with the issue of same-sex marriage and adoption rights as the Cabinet approved a draft bill in the face of fierce resistance from the Roman Catholic Church and social conservatives.

Extending the right to marry and adopt to same-sex couples was one of President Francois Hollande’s electoral pledges in campaigning this year.

The bill is expected to go before the National Assembly and Senate in January, and is likely to be voted on in February or March. If passed, it would mark the biggest step forward for French gay rights advocates in more than a decade…

An opinion poll released Wednesday by polling group Ifop and Le Monde newspaper found 65% of those surveyed support equal marriage rights for same-sex couples — a clear majority of the population…

Cardinal Andre Vingt-Trois, the archbishop of Paris, voiced his opposition to the proposed legislation at a meeting of French bishops in Lourdes over the weekend…

Golly gee! There’s a surprise.

Other religious groups in France, including Muslims, Jews and Buddhists, have also expressed their concern over the draft bill, and more than 100 lawmakers are against the legislation…

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said the proposed changes are a matter of justice and equality that reflect the evolving nature of society…

A law legalizing civil unions was introduced in 1999 in France under a previous Socialist government.

Known in France as the PACS (pacte civil de solidarite), the civil union agreement can be entered into by gay or straight couples and confers many but not all of the rights of marriage.

Something the religious conservatives hate to admit is that civil unions are already more popular than marriage. Among other reasons, there is no need for religion to validate anything.

Arcane law challenged by three protestors arrested for wearing masks in a demonstration

The crowd had gathered outside the Russian Consulate in New York, awaiting the sentencing in Moscow of members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot.

Some held aloft placards proclaiming their solidarity with the band members; others strummed guitars. Many in the crowd that day in August wore the same sort of brightly colored balaclavas worn by the women in the band.

The choice of apparel led to the arrest of some demonstrators, who were charged with disorderly conduct and with violating an arcane provision in the loitering law that makes it unlawful for three or more people to wear masks in public.

Now, a lawyer for three women arrested that day says he is preparing to challenge the constitutionality of the law, which he argues should not apply to peaceful protesters

Mr. Siegel said his arguments would differ from those used in previous challenges. Instead of stating that his clients needed to hide their identities with masks because the ideas they were spreading are controversial, he said, he will assert that the masks themselves were integral to the message the three women were communicating.

The ban on masks in New York State dates to 1845, when it was adopted in response to events in the Hudson Valley, where local tenant farmers disguised as American Indians had attacked and killed landlords. The law includes exceptions for masquerade parties and similar events…

The law has been litigated several times over the past decade or so, with state courts, federal courts and appeals panels seesawing back and forth over whether it can be fairly applied.

It’s nice to sit back and say the law can be applied in a couple different directions. Over time that established no useful precedent and that’s what Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence is all about. So, it comes down to First Amendment rights. If a mask of any sort is demonstrably part of your protest, you should be able to wear it.

I’ve been in some gigantic anti-war demonstrations where the Bread-and-Puppet Theatre folks supported individual puppets a dozen feet high and completely encasing their upper body and heads. Sure as hell some ambitious DA who wants to be mayor will go ahead and prosecute a puppeteer – if the law is left standing.