Obama Admin Declines to Defend Entire "Defense of Marriage Act"

Good news: Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that the Justice Department will no longer defend Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, the part that defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Holder said that the executive would continue to enforce the law until it is repealed by legislators, or overturned by the courts. Two federal court challenges to DOMA are already underway.


“After careful consideration, including a review of my recommendation, the president has concluded that given a number of factors, including a documented history of discrimination, classifications based on sexual orientation should be subject to a more heightened standard of scrutiny,” Holder said in a statement. [Politico]

The Justice Department is not flouting the rule of law, as some critics have suggested. It is merely declining to dig itself a deeper hole in defense of an unconstitutional and discriminatory law.

Even Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) isn't sure whether he wants to defend DOMA. Boehner said Sunday that he hasn't decided whether the House will appoint a special counsel to defend the law. He said he'll probably decide by the end of the week. Boehner probably will move to defend the law, but he didn't exactly jump at the chance.

[Photo credit: marymactavish, Creative Commons.]

How to make a black hole

Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.

Videos
  • There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
  • CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
  • Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
  • Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.

Russian reporters discover 101 'tortured' whales jammed in offshore pens

Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.

(VL.ru)
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Russian news network discovers 101 black-market whales.
  • Orcas and belugas are seen crammed into tiny pens.
  • Marine parks continue to create a high-price demand for illegal captures.
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China’s artificial sun reaches fusion temperature: 100 million degrees

In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.

Credit: EAST Team
Surprising Science
  • The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
  • Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
  • Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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