Same-Sex Couples Now Have the Right to Marry in all 50 U.S States

Same-Sex Couples Now Have the Right to Marry in all 50 U.S States

Jun 27, 2015

America’s highest court has delivered a major decision – ruling by the narrowest of margins that the US Constitution provides same-sex couples with the right to marry. In a 5-4 ruling that may be of the most important decisions in recent years and the most significant expansion of marriage in decades, the court’s move effectively means that individual states cannot prevent people from getting married based on their gender. The court said that the Constitution’s guarantees of due process and equal protection under the law mean that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. With the ruling, gay marriage will become legal in all 50 states. The Associated Press said that Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing on behalf of the court, said the hope of gay people intending to marry “is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilisation’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right”. Mr Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close cases, was joined in the majority by the court’s four liberal justices. In a dissenting opinion, conservative Justice Antonin Scalia said the court’s decision shows it is a “threat to American democracy”. The ruling “says that my ruler and the ruler of 320 million Americans coast-to-coast, is a majority of the nine lawyers on the Supreme Court,” Mr Scalia said. “Today is a day that will long be remembered in our nation’s history. Today, the United States Supreme Court established once and for all that LGBTQ Americans, like all other Americans, have the fundamental freedom to marry the person they love in every state of our union,” said John Lewis of activist group Marriage Equality USA. The court made its ruling in response to a case brought by Jim Obergefell and other plaintiffs involved in same-sex relationships. Mr Obergefell lost his husband, John Arthur, two year ago. Because same-sex marriage was banned in Ohio, he had flown his then very ill partner in a medically-equipped plane to Maryland to marry. On Friday, Mr Obergefell was present at the court to savour his bitter-sweet victory and to receive a call fromPresident Obama to offer...

New Scientific Report Reveals Vaquita’s Future is in Doubt

New Scientific Report Reveals Vaquita’s Future is in Doubt

Jun 25, 2015

Despite the federal government  compensation plan designed to protect the “vaquita marina”, a two-year, 1 billion peso, (US $69 million) project, mostly in the form of payments to fishermen in San Felipe and Santa Clara in the upper Gulf of California; a new scientific report has revealed that the rate of extinction of this rare porpoise only found in the Sea of Cortés, is higher than previously believed. It has now been estimated that the mortality rate of the vaquita (phocoena sinus), is actually 42%, a significant increase from the 2013 estimate of 18.5%. At that time the vaquita population was caculated at 97 individuals; now only 50 are believed to remain. The report, presented by the International Commitee for Vaquita Recovery (CIRVA), collected data through acoustic monitoring of the vaquita’s natural habitat, located close to the port of San Felipe in the state of Baja California; and the coastal towns of Santa Clara and Puerto Peñasco, in the state of Sonora. The Mexican government has begun implementing the mentioned 1-billion-peso recovery plan as one of several initiatives that have been undertaken in recent years to save the vaquita. At a recent meeting in San Diego, California, CIRVA commended the measures taken by Mexico, which has banned fishing in the area and expanded the vaquita protection zone. But the group did ask that the measures be made permanent instead of the two-year program that is being planned. It also asked for more surveillance in the refuge area, particularly at night, as well as supervision of the whole program by a third, independent party. The disappearance of the vaquita is strongly linked to the illegal fishing of the totoaba, a fish whose swim bladders are considered a delicacy and a status symbol in China, reportedly selling for up to a million pesos each. The nets used in totoaba fishing are two meters long and weigh 120 kilograms. When a vaquita becomes caught in the net it is unable to swim to the surface to breathe and consequently dies of asphyxia. CIRVA researcher Jorge Urbán said a new survey of the vaquita protection zone will take place near the end of the year. If the population is confirmed to be...

Russian Murder Suspect Says She was Beaten and Sexually Abused by Police

Russian Murder Suspect Says She was Beaten and Sexually Abused by Police

Jun 24, 2015

A lawyer for the 19-year-old woman suspected of killing her sister and her Russian-born mother in the Mexican border community of Playas de Tijuana says she was beaten and sexually abused by local police officers. Lawyer Gabriel Gonzalez Celestino declared that suspect Anastasia Lechtchenko is innocent and confessed to the crime under torture. The Baja California state prosecutors’ office denied any abuse or beating, and said Lechtchenko confessed on two occasions. The dismembered bodies of 45-year-old Yuliya Masney and 12-year-old Valeria Lechtchenko were found June 10 in plastic bags in the back yard at their house in Playas de Tijuana, less than a mile  from the U.S. border. Both Anastasia and Valeria Lechtchenko were born in Mexico to Russian parents. The lawyer said Lechtchenko came home and found the...

17 Dead at Nursing Home Fire in Mexicali

17 Dead at Nursing Home Fire in Mexicali

Jun 23, 2015

A fire was reported on the early morning hours of Tuesday June 23rd, at the “Hermoso Atardecer” nursing home  located in Mexicali, Baja California. There were 45 people inside the building when the fire broke out at 4:00 am. The mayor of Mexicali, Jaime Rafael Díaz Ocha confirmed that 17 people died and at least five people were injured and taken to the General Hospital. The area was cordoned off to start the identification of bodies. Jaime Rafael Díaz expressed in a radio interview that the possibility of the incident being an act of arson is under consideration during the investigations. “This morning 16 people died in a fire in a nursing home managed by a civil association“, confirmed the councilman of Mexicali. “The possibility of an intentional criminal act, comes from comments made by the people in charge of the nursing home” continued the Mayor. Díaz concluded saying that five of the victims have no known...

Anastasia Lechtchenko confessed killing mother and sister

Anastasia Lechtchenko confessed killing mother and sister

Jun 22, 2015

On Friday June 19th, a judge in Tijuana, Baja California reversed an earlier decision and issued an arrest warrant for 19-year-old Anastasia Lechtchenko for the murder of her mother and sister.  By five o’clock the young woman was in custody, where she could well remain for the next 50 years or more. A week and a half ago, Lechtchenko confessed to killing her 45-year-old mother, Yuliya Masney Safonchik, and her 12-year-old sister Valeria after authorities, acting on a tip from neighbors who reported a foul smell coming from the Lechtchenko home, found their dismembered bodies in plastic bags. The accused said she committed the murders because she believed her family was practicing witchcraft against her. But on Monday June 15th, Judge Ana Isabel Flores Plascencia said the confession was not sufficient evidence to justify a warrant and demanded more. Yesterday, the Baja California Attorney General’s office delivered evidence that satisfied the judge and the warrant was issued. Officials said they had been keeping an eye on Lechtchenko since she was released last Thursday. She was arrested without resistance on Friday June 19th, at the Parque México in Playas de Tijuana, just a few blocks from her home where the murders were committed. There have been reports of a history of drug abuse by the accused and a tempestuous relationship between her and her mother.   – Source:...