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US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states

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Washington: Giving gay rights activists their biggest victory yet, the US Supreme Court ruled Friday that same-sex couples can marry nationwide and states cannot ban such marriages – an issue that divides America and India too.

President Barack Obama, who come out in support of same sex marriage only three years ago in the face of fast-changing public opinion in the midst of his 2012 re-election campaign, hailed the apex court’s 5-4 ruling as “a victory for America”.

Social progress sometimes comes in small increments, he said from the White House Rose Garden, “and then there are days like this, when that slow, steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt”.

“America should be very proud,” said Obama whose administration supported the challengers to the gay marriage bans in the apex court.

Unlike India, where homosexuality is a criminal offence, same-sex couples can marry in 36 American states today, but federal appeals courts have been divided over whether states must allow same-sex couples to marry and recognize such marriages performed elsewhere.

The 14 same-sex couples and two widowers who challenged gay marriage bans in Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio were just a few of the estimated 650,000 same-sex couples in the US, 125,000 of whom are raising children.

Lawyers for the four states argued their bans were justified by tradition and the distinctive characteristics of opposite-sex unions.

The issue, they said, should be resolved democratically, at the polls and in state legislatures, rather than by judges.

The challengers included same-sex couples who wanted to marry, those who sought to have their lawful out-of-state marriage recognized, as well as those who wanted to amend a birth or death certificate with their marriage status.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” wrote Justice Anthony Kennedy for the majority with four liberal justices.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were,” he added

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the court’s “threat to American democracy.”

“The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” he wrote. “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.” (IANS)

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US-North Korea Tensions: Are we on the brink of Destruction?

The US is the only country on Earth, which has committed the gruesome act of using nuclear bombs against humanity. Towards the end of World War II, the then American President Harry S. Truman ordered Japan to surrender, or, “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.”

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Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un
Leaders of United States of America and North Korea. Salil Gewali

– by Salil Gewali

Are we on the brink of destruction? Are our precious lives worthless in the hands of two lunatics? Can Mother Earth withstand another holocaust-this time a full-scale destruction? Will sanity prevail in those two demented heads?

Answers to these dreadful questions lie in Washington and Pyongyang. We, like the rest of the inhabitants in the lap of Mother Earth, can only be the dumb spectators. If the dreaded catastrophe befalls, it will be beyond our means to prevent, and beyond our means to survive. Yes, a series of a dreadful missile is being blasted off from the soil of North Korea too frequently. And it is duly matched with the more alarming thunders by the US President Donald Trump. It is frightful to imagine when these two capricious men will be losing their sensible judgment and start acting against the norms of humanity.

The US is the only country on Earth, which has committed the gruesome act of using nuclear bombs against humanity. Towards the end of World War II, the then American President Harry S. Truman ordered Japan to surrender, or, “expect a rain of ruin from the air, the like of which has never been seen on this earth.” He followed up his ultimatum by dropping nuclear bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on the 6th and the 9th of August, 1945, killing around 200,000 people (Wikipedia).

This gruesome murder of innocent people can be attributed to the American arrogance of power, and affirmation of their destructive capacity. It has been termed as a war crime on humanity and a manifestation of state terrorism. Opponents of this kind of state terrorism argue that the American bombing was immoral and militarily unnecessary. The U.S. still justifies similar horrendous action against any nation, which does not subserve their interests. President Donald Trump’s shocking and outrageous utterances are extensions of the U.S. state behavior. It is frightful to imagine when this vacillating individual will act on his shocking threat of “fire and fury,” as his predecessor did (Article).

On the other hand, why does Kim Jong-un harbor a boundless grudge against the U.S.? Why is he inexhaustibly hostile to the U.S.? Why does Korean People’s Army plan to strike the U.S island of Guam and trigger a grievous conflict? Why does Kim provoke President Donald Trump for the deadliest conflict in history?

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Actually, the root cause of this conflict can be traced back to more than half-century. The conflict centers on the Korean War of 1950-53. The 38th parallel divided Korean Peninsula into two in 1948: the South Korea supported by the United States, and the North Korea supported by the then Soviet Union. The infamous Korean War broke out in the year 1950, the South Korea supported by the United States and its allies, and the North Korea supported by the then Soviet Union and China. Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather and the then dictator of North Korea fought this gruesome war against America and its allies with the support of the then Soviet Union and China. The War lasted till 1953, injuring or killing an estimated three million Koreans, ten percent of its overall population. This background left Kim Jong-un a wounded dictator. He has been planning a U.S. attack since 2013 (Amstrong). Recently, Pyongyang celebrated the anniversary of the war’s flare-up as “the day of struggle against U.S. imperialism.” (News, Conflict explained).

North Korea is estimated to have 60 nuclear weapons and it has the capability to produce at least six additional nuclear bombs every year. Their intercontinental ballistic missiles could travel about 10,400km putting almost the whole world within its range. North Korea claims it can mount nuclear warheads on its ballistic missiles. In September 2017, North Korea detonated its deadliest hydrogen bomb with an estimated yield of about 100 kilotons. This caused an earthquake measuring 6.3 magnitudes. The tremor was felt in China, about 400km away from the test site. It is worrying to learn that this H-bomb could be 1,000 times more powerful than the nuclear bomb dropped by the U.S. air (article)force on Hiroshima in World War II (News, North Korea testing nuclear weapons).

Experts estimate the casualties of a U.S. – North Korea conflict could be a minimum of one million. A nuclear attack by North Korea can decimate Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York. The U.S.’s anti –ICBM systems may defend the country from a usual test. But, experts opine, on the face of a sudden multiple ICBM’s assaults, the horrifying result could be unpredictable. Of course, the U.S.’s and its allies’ military assets stationed all over the world, including at striking distances could decimate North Korea in seconds. That could not justify the irreparable loss the U.S. would be inflicted upon (News, U.S.- North Korea conflict).

President Donald Trump and Dictator Kim Jong Un must introspect with all seriousness. They must exercise strategic restraint. They must avoid a potential flashpoint. They must think of a world outside their egomania. They must introspect on the devastating consequences of their protracted antagonism.  They must understand military provocations, militant statements. Crossing swords will not solve problems of this magnitude. So, they must listen to the reason and display the right statesmanship which the world’s citizens expect. They must display their compassion and exercise their prudence. They have never been mandated to hurt humankind and to injure the Earth crust.

Salil Gewali is a well-known writer and author of ‘Great minds on India’. Twitter @SGewali. 

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Are Roller Coasters plain Fun or Is there an Inherent Risk?

Children aged 10-14 yrs. are the ones who most often sustain injuries on roller coasters. As per US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Thousands of children get hurt each year and some of them even end up in the emergency room.

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roller-coasters
Fun can be dangerous, In 2016, US registered number of serious medical cases caused by roller coaster rides. (Illustration by Sagrika Saraf, New Delhi)

– By Dr Bharti Raizada

In the United States of America, millions of people, young children, youth, adult, are fond of Rollercoaster rides. They want to have fun and feel the thrill with family and friends by trying out some new and fast roller coaster rides.

Latest roller coasters can drop you from 500 feet height and can accelerate from zero to 120 miles/hr within four seconds.

Is Roller Coaster Ride Safe?

The roller coaster rides are usually fun and safe. When compared with driving on roads, people are safer on the roller coasters. They are usually maintained in good shape and checked frequently. There are computer systems to ensure smooth rides and eliminate the chances of accidents and operator errors, however, accidents do happen.

Children aged 10-14 yrs. are the ones who most often sustain injuries on roller coasters. As per US Consumer Product Safety Commission, Thousands of children get hurt each year and some of them even end up in the emergency room. Spinal cord injuries and fractures are the possibilities of cases.

Injury rate increased 60 percent from 1996 to 2000 in which 10,580 injuries needed emergency treatment.

In the year 2016, around 30,900 emergency room visits were documented for injuries. During the years 1990 and 2004 at least 52 deaths were reported and 22 deaths since 2010 to present.

roller coaster
People on roller coaster ride. (image source: flick, available for reuse)

The major effects caused on the body by the twisting, turning, dropping, rising, and catapulting of the roller coasters are:

  • Blood flow rapidly changes in different parts of body
  • Blood pressure and heart rate increase
  • Brain fluid moves rapidly and pressure changes occur
  • Dizziness, spinning sensation feeling
  • Subdural hematoma or bleeding in brain can occur
  • Barotrauma to ears can occur because of ear fluid movement and pressure changes
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stress disorder/PTSD

A person with pre-existing diseases and older aged people have higher risks, so they should avoid the roller coaster rides.

People who should avoid Roller coaster ride?

  • People with uncontrolled blood pressure
  • People with history of arrhythmia
  • People with spinal injuries
  • History of aneurysms
  • Stroke
  • Patients on anticoagulants/sedatives
  • Pregnant females
  • Every ride has Height and weight specifications.

People falling in the above categories should strictly avoid the roller coaster rides. A normal person can feel Dizziness, Excessive and abnormal sleepiness, confusion, headache, sinking feeling, lightheadedness and blackout soon after the roller coaster rides. These can occur even a few days after the ride.

So next time when you go for a roller coaster ride, keep these associated dangers in mind. If you do not feel comfortable do not go for this thrill. Do not get pressurized by your children. Roller coasters can have medical consequences. Be vigilant all the time and follow your instinct. Stay safe!

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‘In Standing up for Herself, Edie Also Stood up for Millions of Americans’, Tweets Bill Clinton as the World Mourns the Death of Gay Rights Activist Edith Windsor

Paying his tribute to Edie, former US President Barack Obama rightly said, "Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor - and few made as big a difference to America."

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Edith Windsor
Edie dearly loved the LGBTQ community which loved her right back and held her in reverence for her fight for freedom, equality, and justice. Wikemedia

New York, September 13, 2017 Gay rights activist Edith Windsor, whose same-sex marriage fight led to a landmark US ruling, has died aged 88.

Her death was confirmed to the New York Times by her wife Judith Kasen-Windsor. She died in New York.

“The world lost a tiny but tough-as-nails fighter for freedom, justice and equality,” the BBC quoted Kasen-Windsor as saying.

“Edie was the light of my life. She will always be the light for the LGBTQ community, which she loved so much and which loved her right back,” she added.

Edith Windsor’s Supreme Court case struck down the Defence of Marriage Act in 2013, granting same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time.

She had sued the US government after being ordered to pay $363,053 in federal estate tax after her previous wife, Thea Spyer, died. The couple had been partners for 44 years and had married in Canada in 2007.

Windsor, known as Edie, argued that the provision of the law which defined marriage as between a man and a woman prevented her from getting a tax deduction due to married couples – and was “unconstitutional”.

In the landmark 2013 ruling, the US Supreme Court agreed – and that decision became the basis for a wave of further court rulings increasing the rights of same-sex couples.

In 2015, another crucial Supreme Court ruling gave same-sex couples the right to marry.

Remembering the gay rights trailblazer Edith Windsor, former US Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama also paid their tributes.

“Few were as small in stature as Edie Windsor – and few made as big a difference to America,” Obama said. While Clinton tweeted: “In standing up for herself, Edie also stood up for millions of Americans…” (IANS)