India rules that touting Astrology isn’t false advertising

The Register reports that the Bombay High Court ruled in February that astrologers can’t be prosecuted under India’s Drugs and Magical Remedies Act. As the register points out, that’s not the same as saying that astrology is a science.

You can read the act here.

BBC blames the victim

Jody McIntyre, who attended the U.K. student protests against rising university fees that may put first-tier universities out of reach of all but the rich, calls a BBC on its scripted interview questions which suggest that he is responsible for police dragging him out of his wheelchair and assaulting him. In McIntyre’s opinion, the police actions were designed to provoke violence from other protesters (which could then be used to justify repressive measures).

Remote marriage via Skype™

Mark Reed and Dante Walkup

A celebrant in Washington DC solemnized the marriage of two men in Texas, using the Skype video chat. While gay marriage is not legal in Texas, it is in DC, which apparently is all, since the celebrant has the authority to form a legal marriage. This neat use of technology was thought up by two law professors.

Through the power of Skype,™ a gay couple in Texas, where same-sex marriage isn’t legal, can be wed by an official in the District of Columbia, where it is. This exact situation played out earlier this week when Dallas residents Mark Reed and Dante Walkup were part of the world’s first digital gay wedding. “When we walked down the aisle, as soon as we reached the front, [Sheila Alexander-Reid, the marriage official] comes on the screen like The Wizard of Oz,” Mr. Reed told news site The union was coordinated in part by The Legal E-Marriage Project, an initiative started by two law professors. They say Skype weddings can also be useful for couples who are separated by distance.

Read more at the Texas Voice, whence I ‘borrowed’ a smaller version of their picture.

Religion vs. law, U.S.

From Reynolds v. U.S., 1878

Reynolds argued that as a Mormon, it was his religious duty to practice polygamy if possible.

In its ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court considered the history of religious freedom in the U.S. and quoted Thomas Jefferson’s letter: he stated that there was a distinction between religious belief and any action that flowed from it. The former “lies solely between man and his God,” so “the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions.”

If polygamy were allowed, said the court, someone might eventually argue that their religion required human sacrifice, and “to permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself.” Therefore the spirit of the First Amendment was that Congress could not legislate against opinion, but could legislate against action.

Domestic terrorist murders doctor in Kansas

An anti-abortion terrorist with links to Operation Rescue has shot down a doctor in church. The irony is fairly thick, here. The religiously motivated murderer hits his unarmed target, who was an usher at his church while his wife was singing in the choir. The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada responds to the news.

Dr. Tiller was one of the very few doctors in North America who was able to perform late abortions on women whose pregnancies had gone wrong, or whose lives depended on the ability to get an abortion at a later stage. Women travelled from all over, including Canada, to access his services. Dr. Tiller has long been a target of anti-abortion protests, mostly by “Operation Rescue.” He suffered continuous harassment, including death threats, baseless lawsuits, pickets at his clinic and staff residences, vicious slander, and a previous assassination attempt in 1993, when he was shot in both arms outside his clinic by anti-abortion protester Rachelle Shannon.

“I’m in shock, I’m completely devastated. He was a friend of mine,” said
Joyce Arthur, Coordinator of the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada. “Dr. Tiller was called a saint by many of his patients, and ‘Saint George’ by abortion providers across the nation. His incredible courage was inspirational.”

This was a doctor who performed abortions for women who were in danger of permanent injury if they continued the pregnancy or whose prospective child would have been damaged or suffering and perhaps doomed.There were three doctors in the U.S.; that’s one for every 50,000,000 women. And that should tell you how rare and non-frivolous a late abortion is. Most doctors won’t do one after four months because at that point, abortion is more dangerous than childbirth.

Outraged members of the public are sending money to support abortion, abortion funds for women who need financial help, and especially Medical Students for Choice, who opt to learn techniques of safe abortion in medical school.

Taking an oath

Almost too true to be funny… politicians.

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Gambling ban could reverse recession

Research, summarized in a hefty book,  is showing that gambling is a drag on the economy. Our governments have become addicted to lottery winnings. Small, authorized lotteries were once a mainstay of local charities; but since the Ontario government has gotten into gambling in a big way, that souce of funds has been reduced to a trickle. Meanwhile, the people who gamble are often those who can least afford it, and the money they spend moves out of the community.

The report refers to international gambling in the U.S., which takes money out of the country; and to crime spawned by gambling. Perhaps that’s the crime of fixing competitions; legalizing gambling was supposed to cure the crime of violence against defaulting gamblers.

The report observes that Russia has improved its economy since it banned most forms of gambling in 2006 – 2007.

Perhaps it’s time to go back to the old system, where if you wanted to bet on the horses you had to go to the race track. It could bring back a lot of the smaller tracks and improve employment options.

In related news, researchers have found that a drug used to control alcoholism also reduces the urge to gamble. So some of the people gambling the rent money perhaps simply can’t help it.

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