DOMA Needs To End….This Case May Start The Process

Consider the following.

When Ms. Bowe-Shulman added her spouse, Dorene, a cancer survivor, to her health plan, the government started taxing her on the value of Dorene’s insurance, she says — a tax that doesn’t apply to straight married couples. Combined with other federal taxes assessed because they are single in Washington’s eyes, the Bowe-Shulmans, who have two daughters, say they paid $3,332 in extra taxes in 2006 alone.

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In October 2006, Gerry Studds, the first openly gay U.S. congressman, took his dog out for a morning walk and collapsed with a blood clot in his lung. He died a few days later.

Ever since, his widower, Dean Hara, married legally to Mr. Studds in Massachusetts, has been trying in vain to collect survivor benefits from Mr. Studds’s federal pension and health insurance — tens of thousands of dollars he says he would be getting if he were straight.

Now, in a lawsuit, Mr. Hara, two other gay widowers and seven gay couples also wed in Massachusetts are challenging the law that keeps them from getting federal marital benefits.

Congressman Studds and Mr. Hara got engaged in 1991. Mr. Hara, who is 51 and works as a financial adviser, remembers watching the congressional debate on DOMA from the visitors’ gallery. “I don’t think we ever thought we’d be married,” he says. The pair were among the earliest to wed after the 2004 Massachusetts court ruling.

By then, Mr. Studds had retired from Congress and was receiving a pension and federal health coverage. In June of last year, an administrative judge put an end to Mr. Hara’s attempts to get survivor benefits, saying “a same-sex marriage in any jurisdiction cannot be recognized for benefit entitlement purposes,” according to the lawsuit.

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Now, in a lawsuit, Mr. Hara, two other gay widowers and seven gay couples also wed in Massachusetts are challenging the law that keeps them from getting federal marital benefits.

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by former President Bill Clinton, defines marriage as a union of a man and a woman. That means the government must ignore same-sex marriages even if a state chooses to recognize them, as Massachusetts and four other states have done. A recipient of many federal benefits must be either an opposite-sex spouse or, in some cases, a child.

Although DOMA has been unsuccessfully challenged before, the new lawsuit is different because of the number of plaintiffs, its sharp focus on the marital-benefits issue and because the plaintiffs all are legally married or survivors of legal marriages.

A victory for them would increase the financial benefits of gay marriage, which could help spread the practice. Though legal experts say courts would be reluctant to invalidate laws set by Congress, supporters hope a victory will put pressure on Congress to repeal DOMA, a rescission that President Barack Obama says he favors even though he opposes gay marriage

OMG!…Panoramic Photo Of Space Shuttle Atlantis

You have to see these links!

If you love space flight, NASA, science, the Space Shuttle then this is for you.  It is awesome!

As far as I know this will work on all computers and needs nothing special to view.

Look at the view around Kennedy Space Center.

Find more to enjoy here.

Bob Dylan Created Poem By Revising Lyrics Of A Hank Snow Song

I just found this interesting.

hank_snow

Hank Snow

Christie’s auction house said Wednesday that an early Bob Dylan poem was based on an existing country tune.

“Little Buddy,” estimated to fetch $10,000 to $15,000 once it goes on sale June 23, was “a revised version of lyrics of a Hank Snow song,” Christie’s said.

Fans of the late Canadian country singer “came out of the woodwork” to say they recognized the lyrics after The Associated Press wrote about the composition on Tuesday, said Christie’s pop culture specialist Simeon Lipman.

Dylan was 16 and still going by his given name Bob Zimmerman when he submitted “Little Buddy” in the summer of 1957 for a newspaper at a summer camp in Wisconsin.

Simeon said Wednesday that the verse is still “among the earliest known handwritten lyrics of Bob Dylan,” and expected to draw collectors.

According to the Hank Snow Country Music Center Web site, the lyrics and music for “Little Buddy” were composed by Snow, who died in 1999. The song was recorded in 1947 and became the singer’s standard on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Nashville, where he performed for 46 years. It tells the poignant story of Little Buddy, who is killed at the hands of a drunkard, and the boy who mourns him.

Dylan revised the lyrics by changing some words around and adding some of his own, in effect following an old folk and country tradition.

Nathan, A Budding Artist, Creates Work For Our New Refrigerator

As luck would have it on the day we had our new refrigerator delivered this week, we also received a most special envelope with a piece of artwork.  Since we knew the arrival time of  the delivery truck, it was the unexpected postal delivery that produced the most smiles.

Our wonderful friend Nathan, who has the most contagious laugh of any spirited four-year-old I have ever met, thought it best that our refrigerator have a work of art that would make people look and ponder the deeper meanings of life and the universe we live in.  With care and thoughtfulness he drew his creation, and then helped mom slip it into the mail.

We met Nathan when he was one-year-old while gardening near our home on the west side of Madison.  There has always been a genuine and care-free quality to his manner, and that was displayed recently when he visited us on the Isthmus.   While James was showing his mom around our home, Nathan came into the kitchen where I was making some hot chocolate, crossed his arms, tilted his head, looked up, and asked, “What are you stirring on the stove?’  It was the inflection in his voice and his mannerisms, more than his words that made him interesting and somehow seem older than he was.

Under his ever-present smile is a mind that works and thinks about… well…..the stuff kids think about.

Later that day he asked if we had a basement.  Sure, I told him.  Well, what is in it he quickly wanted to know.  I gave a short response of the type of stuff we had down in it.  “Well,” he said as he showed me some water balloons, “I thought we could fill these up with water and have fun down there”…….  The active and imaginative mind of a child is never boring.  (I think water balloons out on the lawn this summer might be in the cards.)

His truly wonderful personality comes through from his belly laughs that are ignited for no reason at all.  All of a sudden, without warning,  comes this deep, fully charged and amusing laughter that makes his eyes sparkle as he looks your way.  It is too contagious not to respond, and soon all those around him are also laughing…at what we do not know…..but it sure feels good.

That is a pretty special quality for a kid to have, and be able to create in others around him.

As a new artist in Madison, Nathan would like to introduce himself a bit for his public.  He was born in this city, knows what a pastry-cutter is, does not like beer, and can tell the difference between a pole-bean and a bush-bean.  Sounds like he is reaching out to the wine and cheese crowd for his first art show……..

Now to the artwork. 

This is one of a kind.  We are very proud to have this hanging in our home on the refrigerator door.

Thanks Nathan!

Nathan

Has Stacy Peterson’s Body Been Found?

UPDATE

The coroner’s office says the remains found on the Des Plaines River were a rib cage, spinal column and partial left and right femur bones. Police found shreds of blue jeans containing a small amount of U.S. currency along with the body. DNA testing to reveal the identity will take at least two weeks.

Drew Peterson, as far as I am concerned, is guilty of murder.  Probably two of them.  And now perhaps the body of yet another of his dead wives will give more proof to the dark side of this former cop. 

An autopsy will be performed today on the badly decomposed human remains found by a cleanup crew working Wednesday afternoon on the Des Plaines River.

The key question: Is the body that of either the missing Stacy Peterson or Lisa Stebic? But authorities say there is no timetable for making a determination.

This morning, Illinois State police dive crews were in the river east of the spot where the remains were found. Other investigators were scouring the shore area for clues.

The remains–reportedly mainly bones–were found along the banks of the river near Channahon, just west of Interstate Highway 55, an area where searchers have looked for Peterson since she disappeared Oct. 28, 2007.

 

Speculation spread that the remains might also be those of Stebic, the Plainfield mother who disappeared in April 2007. Stacy Peterson’s family was alerted to the discovery by state police.

Authorities would not discuss the condition of the remains, whether they were male or female, or if clothing was found on the body. Officials said there is no timetable as to when they will be able to make a positive identification.

A plastic blue barrel was spotted in the vicinity of the body. Channahon resident Michelle Williams told WGN Radio host John Williams this morning that she and her husband saw the barrel in heavy brush on the riverbank on Sunday and she saw it again on Tuesday.

The round barrel, which she said was larger than a trash can, was on its side so they could not tell if its lid was on, Michelle Williams said in an interview with the Tribune.

Williams said the couple reported their discovery to police on Sunday, and spoke to one officer who came out to the scene. Other officers were in the area near the barrel a little later that evening, but she said she was uncertain if they were looking for it. But she and her daughter walked in the same area again on Tuesday and saw the barrel again.

Williams said she called state police after news of the body broke Wednesday, and spoke briefly with a sergeant involved in the investigation, who asked her to forward her account of seeing the barrel, and a cell phone photo they took of it Sunday.

The significance of a blue barrel is that Drew Peterson’s stepbrother, Thomas Morphey, has said that he helped Peterson remove a blue container from Peterson’s home on the day that Stacy disappeared, and that he believed Stacy’s body was inside it.

Peterson is now in jail on murder charges in the 2004 death of his previous wife, Kathleen Savio. The former Bolingbrook police sergeant has pleaded not guilty. He has not been charged in connection with Stacy Peterson’s disappearance, but has denied any responsibility there, too.

Investigators from many agencies remained at the riverbank late Wednesday searching for evidence.

The crew found the body around 2:30 p.m. in brush on the river shoreline, said the manager of Mugzy’s Hideout, a bar in the Big Basin Marina.

“We’ve been called,” said Pam Bosco, a spokeswoman for Stacy Peterson’s family. “We’re in contact by phone. We’re just waiting to hear more information. For confirmation though, they said it’s going to be a little bit of time.”

Melanie Greenberg, a spokeswoman for Lisa Stebic’s family, said: “If it is [her], the overwhelming feeling would be relief that we found her and that there is resolution.”

Earlier in the day, the Will County state’s attorney announced the special grand jury investigating the Peterson and Stebic cases had not returned indictments related to their disappearances.

Attorney Joel Brodsky visited Peterson in jail Wednesday night and appeared unfazed by the speculation the body could be Stacy’s.

“I wish I had $10,000 for every time they pulled a body out of a river in the Chicago area,” Brodsky said. “People will assume what they want to assume.”

Obama: Guantanamo “Created More Terrorists Around The World Than It Ever Detained”

I am very pleased with the forceful words and tone that President Obama used today to describe the need for closing Guantanamo.  ( I have a few words of my own on this matter following the summation of his speech below.)  In his speech that makes me darn proud that this man sits in the White House and makes the decisions, Obama used logic to pry open the doors of failed foreign policy in order to shape new avenues to address the needs of the nation.

The US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay is a “misguided experiment” and a “mess” that must be cleaned up, US President Barack Obama has said.

Mr Obama said it had weakened national security and rallied enemies of the US, but he was determined to close it by January 2010 whilst respecting US law.

Mr Obama said the administration was reviewing every one of the 240 detainees still held at Guantanamo and considering what to do with them.

“We are treating these cases with the care and attention that the law requires and our security demands,” he said, describing the Bush-era approach as “poorly-planned, [and] haphazard”.

Explaining the basis of his administration’s approach to terrorist suspects and Guantanamo Bay, Mr Obama said the existence of the prison camp probably “created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained”.

He conceded that following through on his pledge to close Guantanamo would be “difficult and complex”, but insisted it was possible.

“As president, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. Our security interests won’t permit it. Our courts won’t allow it.”

But he offered a direct answer to critics who have said his plans would release potentially dangerous people onto the streets of the US.

“We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.”

Let me add a few thoughts of my own to those that the President made today

Over the past weeks I have heard this ridiculous fear that the prisoners from Gitmo would be released here in the United States.  I have seen with my own eyes otherwise sane people make the most outlandish claims.  The idea of “not in my backyard” attitude has dominated talk of detainee releases.  Somehow some folks think the prisoners are about to be released so they can wander the streets and create mayhem.   They are not going to be released.

First they would need to break out of the prison, and since they would be in the most hardened of institutions that would be impossible.  Since the Department of Homeland Security has spent years now devising ways of preventing terrorist attacks in far more densely populated and vulnerable locations than the ones discussed for housing the prisoners, I think the fear of a terrorist attack as a result of placing the prisoners here is also a lark.

There is a need to close Gitmo, and do so as soon as possible.  The President understands that, the world community understands the same and wants it, as do millions of Americans such as myself who care about the foreign policy of this nation.  In addition there is the moral wrong that this place has brushed our nation with by its very construction.  The rule of law, and the higher standards we state as our nation’s underpinning, must again guide us.