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Federal Appeals Court Rules Prop. 8 Ban On Gay Marriage Unconstitutional

via SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that Proposition 8, California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment guarantee of equal protection under the law.

But backers of the controversial, voter-approved law quickly signaled that they planned to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court ruled 2-1 to uphold the decision of a lower court judge, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker of San Francisco, who determined in Aug. 2010 that Prop. 8 was a violation of the civil rights of gays and lesbians. The panel also rejected claims that Walker, now retired, was biased in his ruling because he is gay and in a long-term relationship with another man.

“Although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted,” the ruling stated.


Judge Stephen Reinhardt, the author of the majority opinion, went on to write: “Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples. The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort.”

Download The Complete Court Ruling (.pdf)
pDownload A Summary Of The Decision (.pdf)

Reihardt, who was appointed to the appeals court by President Jimmy Carter, was joined in the majority opinion by Judge Michael Hawkins, an appointee of President Bill Clinton.

Judge Randy Smith, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, dissented, saying he disagreed that Prop. 8 served no purpose other than to treat gays and lesbians as second-class citizens.

KCBS’ Doug Sovern Reports:

Prop. 8 Ruled Unconstitutional


Tuesday’s ruling did not mean, however, that gay marriages would resume in California anytime soon as the decision of the three judges appeared to pave the way for a likely Supreme Court showdown over the issue.

“No court should presume to redefine marriage. No court should undercut the democratic process by taking the power to preserve marriage out of the hands of the people,” Brian Raum, one of the lawyers hired to defend Prop. 8, said in an e-mail sent to CBS San Francisco.

“We are not surprised that this Hollywood-orchestrated attack on marriage — tried in San Francisco — turned out this way. But we are confident that the expressed will of the American people in favor of marriage will be upheld at the Supreme Court,” Raum added.

Margaret Russell, a professor of constitutional law at Santa Clara University School of Law, told CBS San Francisco that the Supreme Court did not need a conflicting circuit-court decision in order to take up the case, but rather just four justices who deem it worthy of review.


Prop. 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote in 2008 and outlawed same-sex marriages just five months after they became legal in California. Two same-sex couples then brought a lawsuit in 2009 seeking to overturn the measure.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Proposition 8 Court Battle

American Foundation for Equal Rights President Chad Griffin, who formed the legal team that waged the court battle on behalf of the two couples, called the three-judge panel’s ruling “a historic victory.”

More than 150 people who gathered outside the federal courthouse at Mission and Seventh streets in downtown San Francisco also greeted ruling with cheers. They held signs and waved rainbow flags.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris hailed the decision too. In a statement sent to CBS San Francisco, she called it “a victory for fairness, a victory for equality and a victory for justice.”

The Attorney General’s Office had declined to defend Prop. 8 in court, leaving it in the hands of proponents of the measure to mount a defense, after concluding that the law could not be defended on constitutional grounds.

Gov. Jerry Brown, who also refused to defend the measure, issued a statement in which he said, “The court has rendered a powerful affirmation of the right of same-sex couples to marry. I applaud the wisdom and courage of this decision.”

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Obama Flip-Flops and Now Supports Super PAC

via CNN

In a change of position, Barack Obama’s reelection campaign will begin using administration and campaign aides to fundraise for Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing the president.

Obama has been an outspoken critic of current campaign financing laws, in particular a Supreme Court ruling that allowed the creation of super PACs. Until now he has kept his distance from Priorities USA Action.

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But in the wake of the group’s anemic fundraising, made public last week, the campaign decided to change its position, and announced the new stance to members of its national finance committee Monday evening.

Two Obama campaign aides confirmed that senior campaign and administration officials who participate at fundraising events for the president’s campaign will also appear at events for Priorities USA Action, the PAC supporting Obama.

“This decision was not made overnight,” one campaign official said. “ The money raised and spent by Republican super PACs is very telling. We will not unilaterally disarm.”

The president, first lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden will not appear at super PAC events, the aides said.

In an e-mail to supporters, Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said the decision was a reaction to massive fundraising posted by super PACs supporting GOP presidential candidates.

“The campaign has decided to do what we can, consistent with the law, to support Priorities USA in its effort to counter the weight of the GOP Super PACs,” Messina wrote.

“We will do so only in the knowledge and with the expectation that all of its donations will be fully disclosed as required by law to the Federal Election Commission.”

Messina was careful to point out the president’s opposition to a Supreme Court ruling that sparked the onset of super PACs, noting the administration was still looking for ways to put limits on campaign spending.

“The President opposed the Citizens United decision,” Messina wrote. “He understood that with the dramatic growth in opportunities to raise and spend unlimited special-interest money, we would see new strategies to hide it from public view.

“He continues to support a law to force full disclosure of all funding intended to influence our elections, a reform that was blocked in 2010 by a unanimous Republican filibuster in the U.S. Senate. And the President favors action – by constitutional amendment, if necessary – to place reasonable limits on all such spending.”

Priorities USA Action posted receipts of $4.4 million through December 31, 2011, compared to the more than $30 million reported by Restore our Future, a super PAC supporting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

In an e-mail blast, Jonathan Collegio, spokesman for the conservative groups American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, called the Obama campaign’s move a “brazenly cynical” reversal for a president who just two years ago called spending by these outside groups a threat to democracy.

Collegio highlighted a quote from an October 2010 rally in Philadelphia, when the New York Times quoted Obama as saying, “You don’t know, it could be the oil industry, it could be the insurance industry, it could even be foreign-owned corporations. You don’t know because they don’t have to disclose. Now that’s not just a threat to Democrats, that’s a threat to our democracy.”

American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS plan to raise $300 million to help defeat Obama and his agenda in November.

Mitt Romney’s super PAC reported raising $30 million in 2011, the vast majority of which was spent on negative advertising.

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WalMart Goes From Shit to Shinola

Improving their image is important and that is why Walmart is finally getting on board with healthier food choices for customers they have certainly lost by not recognizing the trend years ago…

Full article

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MF Global Cash Lost and Found

“For weeks, financial experts and the media have said that the $1.2 billion in customer money “lost” by MF Global would never been found.

Now, the trustee for the customers reports that

“The trustee’s investigators have now traced a majority of the cash transactions, totaling more than $105 billion, made in and out of MF Global Inc. in the last week before bankruptcy and are completing the process of tracing the remaining transactions.”

No indication about where the money was hidden.”



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IRONY: Mark Zuckerberg Would Like IPO Banks to Protect Privacy


Shut your pie hole!

That’s the message that notoriously press-averse Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has sent around Wall Street recently, telling Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and the other banks involved in his company’s $100 billion IPO to stop leaking juicy tidbits to the media and to stop talking up the stock offering to clients, The Post has learned.

Zuckerberg, 27, whose stake in the social network giant amounts, in round figures, to around $28 billion, wasn’t too happy that some aspects of the much-anticipated initial stock float — including the fact that its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission would take place on Feb. 1 — were disclosed. Facebook officials let the bankers know about it through phone calls and e-mails, sources said.

Facebook officials also appeared to also be irked about what appeared to be subtle sniping in the press between Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs centered on which firm would grab the coveted lead underwriting role on the IPO — the highest profile since Google went public with a $1.7 billion offering back 2004.

Zuckerberg’s warning appears to be working.

The powers that be at each bank, sources said, have reacted by warning employees not to discuss the filing.

“[Facebook] wants to be taken seriously and viewed as a blue-ship company,” said one bank official familiar with the listing, but not authorized to speak publicly.

Facebook and its team of underwriters are in a so-called quiet period since filing the paperwork, known as an S-1, with regulators.

Although the Facebook e-mails and calls contained no threats, running afoul of Zuckerberg could result in a bank getting dropped from the IPO. Just two years ago, UBS was dumped from the group of banks handling General Motors’ much-anticipated IPO.

For the banks, the Facebook IPO means more than just the $40 million it could earn from the deal. Indeed, landing the prestigious Facebook offering is likely to have a halo effect that could help a bank land future tech IPOs. Getting booted from the deal can have the same halo effect — in reverse.

At lead underwriter Morgan Stanley, the reaction to Facebook’s warning has been quick and unambiguous. Its private wealth advisers were admonished to stay mum on the upcoming IPO — a difficult task considering clients are clamoring to get in on the action.

The hush-hush mandate comes as the underwriters are gearing up in the coming week or two to hash over — with Zuckerberg, CFO David Ebersman and COO Sheryl Sandberg — the most appropriate valuation for the Menlo Park, Calif., company.

Despite the white-knuckle media frenzy surrounding Facebook, underwriters will be aiming to hit a sweet spot of offering the social media giant’s shares at a level that deep-pocketed institutional investors can wrap their head and their wallets around.

A $100 billion valuation for the IPO would peg Facebook at an eye-popping 100 times its profits of $1 billion in 2011.
Read more: http://trade.cc/ahyb

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$MGM Grand Renovating to Become a Hot Hotel on Las Vegas Strip

(via examiner.com)

As we announced in an October 2011 article , MGM Grand is undergoing a major renovation project in Las Vegas. New faces will adorn rooms, bathrooms, elevators, hallways, and the central rotunda area.

The hotel has just installed a full – scale mockup of their new standard King rooms in the main lobby for folks to check out. The rooms feature a neutral pallette of beige, brown, and panda color schemes. Other features include 42″ LCD televisions, LEED certified carpeting, Caesarstone motif platforms, and a desk nook table with chairs.

Though the bathroom facelift is not presented in the lobby mockup, baths will feature new hardware, lighting, new door handles and hinges, new paint, shower fixtures, curved curtain rods, and “electric” mirrors.

We phoned the hotel to confirm that some of the new rooms are indeed available for booking. Midweek rates for a two – queenbed room on December 22, 2011 were quoted at $75 per night plus taxes and resort fees ( grand total of $106.40 ). That nightly rate is about $20 more than the quoted going rate ($55) for their old standard rooms. Even though we’re currently right in the middle of the lowest average annual room rate windows for Las Vegas, the mere $20 disparity in old vs new room rates is quite encouraging.

MGM Grand has always been on our favorite Vegas hotel lists for several reasons. The new rooms at very reasonable rates only adds to the property’s Grand appeal. Stay updated on the progressing property – wide renovation by visiting The Grand Renovation website.



Charles Higgins

Article info source = Vegas Chatter

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Teacher Says She Wishes Her Students Dead; Judge Says She Can Keep Teaching

(via NY POST)

A Brooklyn teacher — fired for posting snarky online comments suggesting her unruly students should drown — can go back to the classroom, a judge says.

Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Barbara Jaffe last week overturned an administrative decision to boot Christine Rubino, who taught at PS 203 in Flatlands, for posting “repulsive” comments on Facebook.

A blow to the city Department of Education, the ruling underscores the grueling process to fire teachers accused of misconduct or incompetence. Even after lengthy administrative trials, judges can reverse decisions either way, and prolong a costly battle.

Cuomo's Challenge
SHE’S A CRASS ACT: Kid-hating teacher Christine Rubino is getting her job back, thanks to a state judge.

SHE’S A CRASS ACT: Kid-hating teacher Christine Rubino is getting her job back, thanks to a state judge.

“After today, I’m thinking the beach sounds like a wonderful idea for my 5th graders. I HATE THEIR GUTS! They are all the devils spawn!” Rubino wrote on Facebook on June 23, 2010.

She made the remarks one day after a 12-year-old Harlem girl, Nicole Suriel, drowned on a school trip to a Long Island beach.

When a Facebook friend asked, “oh you would let little Kwame float away!’’ Rubino posted in reply, “Yes, I wld not throw a life jacket in for a million!!”

While “offensive” and “repulsive,” the comments were posted outside the school building and after hours, Jaffe ruled.

The judge found no evidence that Rubino, frustrated by her students’ rowdy behavior, meant them actual harm or that the comments “affected her ability to teach.”

Jaffe even gave Rubino a pass for allegedly obstructing an investigation. A friend of Rubino admitted she lied when she claimed authorship of the ugly comments, but Rubino denied asking her to do so. Rubino’s “clumsy attempt at a cover-up reflects panic, not planning,” the judge wrote.

In firing Rubino last June, hearing officer Randi Lowitt said Facebook and other social media “are becoming embedded in society.” Lowitt chided, “People post without regard to the fact that what they post has a shelf life of forever.”

Jaffe differed. “Even though [Rubino] should have known that her postings could become public,” the judge wrote, it was “reasonable” to expect that only her Facebook adult friends would see them.

Citing Rubino’s “unblemished” 15-year teaching history, Jaffe voided the termination and sent her back to the department for a “lesser penalty.”

Rubino, who made $78,885 a year, won’t go back on the payroll so fast because the department may appeal.

Rubino’s lawyer, Bryan Glass, said, “A simple warning to Ms. Rubino about her mistake would have sufficed, and it would not have been repeated. Perhaps in this time of scarce resources, the substantial time and money on this case could be better allocated by the DOE supporting its teachers in the classroom rather than demonizing and punishing its staff.”

Read more: http://trade.cc/ahpe

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Ear bitten off in fast food queue (click on link for source)

The attack happened at the KFC on Renfield Street in GlasgowThe attack happened at the KFC on Renfield Street in Glasgow

A man had part of his ear bitten off in a “violent” and “unprovoked” attack by two men in a Glasgow fast food outlet.

Police said the 28-year-old man and his friend were in KFC on Renfield Street when they were confronted by three men and a woman at 23:00 on Friday.

They decided to leave the shop without getting food but were attacked by two of the men as they made their way out.

The victim had the top half of his ear bitten off and was taken to the Royal Infirmary for treatment.

The two men responsible for the attack were last seen in Bath Lane.

One was described as white, about 18, of slim build, with dark hair and wearing a grey tracksuit with yellow writing.

The other was white, about 18 to 20, of slim build and wearing a dark jacket.

He had the name ‘Scott’ tattooed on the right side of his neck.

Det Con Kieron Frost said: “This would appear to a totally unprovoked attack on the 28-year-old man who had only gone into the shop with his friend to purchase something to eat prior to returning home.

“It was a particularly violent attack which resulted in the victim losing the top half of his ear which will now require surgery.”

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Occupy Wall Street Heads To The Super Bowl

Labor groups are teaming up with the Occupy movement for a series of high-profile protests in Indianapolis, where Super Bowl XLVI will take place this Sunday. The demonstrations are centered on Indiana’s new right-to-work law, which critics say will hamstring unions and leave the state’s workers in a vulnerable position.

The Indiana chapter of the AFL-CIO, one of the largest union federations in the country, will be passing out literature at and around Lucas Oil Stadium, the site of Sunday’s game, according to ThinkProgress. The hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE will stage a demonstration on Friday, and local Occupy activists are said to be planning a protest of their own — an extension of the rabble-rousing that took place this past weekend, when union members and Occupy demonstrators joined forces for several marches and rallies around Indianapolis.

Indiana’s new law, which makes it impossible for employers to require their workers to join a union or pay membership dues, is only the latest in a string of recent setbacks for American labor. Union membership has fallen off dramatically since the 1980s, and 2009 and 2010 saw especially steep declines in participation. (In what some analysts say is likely not a coincidence, paychecks for most Americans have barely grown since the 1980s.)

Over the past year, conservative politicians from Wisconsin to Arizona have proposed or passed laws that aim to reduce the power of organized labor, and Republicans at the federal level have been voicing steadily louder opposition to the National Labor Relations Board, claiming that the agency advocates for union members in a way that harms the interests of the business community.

Labor advocates say that Indiana’s right-to-work law, which Governor Mitch Daniels signed on Wednesday, will erode the political and financial strength of unions in that state. Supporters of the law say it will attract more companies to Indiana and kick-start job growth. Indiana is the 23rd state with a right-to-work law on the books, and the first in the Rust Belt, the central-northeastern part of the country historically associated with heavy industry.

This weekend’s protests are part of what right-to-work opponents call an ongoing campaign to get the law repealed. They also represent a continuation of the alliance between organized labor and the Occupy movement, groups that share an interest in preserving working- and middle-class power. The visibility of Occupy protesters has dropped somewhat in recent months, with more and more cities taking measures to dispel long-term encampments, though the movement is still conspicuously active in New York, D.C., Miami, Oakland and other places.


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