MidTMike

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  1. Breaking News... http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/08/04/california.same.sex.ruling/index.html?hpt=T1&iref=BN1 (CNN) -- A federal judge in California has knocked down the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage, ruling Wednesday that the state's controversial Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found in his ruling that the ban violated the Constitution's equal protection clause under the 14th Amendment. The closely watched case came some two years after Californians voted to pass Proposition 8, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Neither opponents nor supporters of same-sex marriage said before the ruling that it would likely be the last. Both sides said the decision will be appealed and eventually wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court.
  2. Judge Walker: I Doubt Prop 8 Ruling Can Be Appealed PAUL ELIAS and LISA LEFF | 08/13/10 12:03 PM | AP SAN FRANCISCO — The federal judge who overturned California's same-sex marriage ban has more bad news for the measure's sponsors: he not only is unwilling to keep gay couples from marrying beyond next Wednesday, he doubts the ban's backers have the right to challenge his ruling. Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker on Thursday rejected a request to delay his decision striking down Proposition 8 from taking effect until high courts can take up an appeal lodged by its supporters. One of the reasons, the judge said, is he's not sure the proponents have the authority to appeal since they would not be affected by or responsible for implementing his ruling. By contrast, same-sex couples are being denied their constitutional rights every day they are prohibited from marrying, Walker said. The ban's backers "point to harm resulting from a 'cloud of uncertainty' surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents' appeal is resolved," he said. "Proponents have not, however, argued that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse." Walker gave opponents of same-sex marriage until Aug. 18 at 5 p.m. to get a ruling from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether gay marriages should start before the court considers their broader appeal. Their lawyers filed a request asking the 9th Circuit to intervene and block the weddings on an emergency basis late Thursday. They argued the appeals court should grant a stay of Walker's order requiring state officials to cease enforcing Proposition 8 "to avoid the confusion and irreparable injury that would flow from the creation of a class of purported same-sex marriages." Depending on how the 9th Circuit rules, same-sex couples could begin tying the knot in California as early as next week or be put off while the appeal works its way through the court and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court as well. California voters passed Proposition 8 as a state constitutional amendment in November 2008, five months after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions and an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples already had married. In refusing to suspend his ruling for more than a few days, Walker agreed with the lawyers who sued to strike down the ban that it's unclear if Proposition 8's sponsors have legal standing to appeal. Although he allowed the coalition of religious and conservative groups that sponsored the measure to defend the lawsuit during the 13-day trial over which he presided, the judge said appellate courts have different rules for deciding when a party is eligible to challenge a lower court. Based on his interpretation of those rules, it appears the ban's sponsors can only appeal his decision with the backing of either Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger or Attorney General Jerry Brown, Walker said. But that seems unlikely as both officials refused to defend Proposition 8 in Walker's court and said last week they see no reason why gay couples should not be able to tie the knot now. Walker also turned aside arguments that marriages performed now could be thrown into legal chaos if Proposition 8 is later upheld by an appeals court. He pointed to the 18,000 same-sex couples who married legally in the five months that gay marriage was legal in California as proof. San Francisco Chief Deputy City Attorney Therese Stewart, who during the trial helped argue that Proposition 8 should be overturned, said that while it will not be up to Walker to decide the eligibility issue, "it's very realistic" that the 9th Circuit could reach the same conclusion. "We allocate the decision-making authority over how to enforce and defend and prosecute the laws to the executive branch," Stewart said. "Do you want every Tom, Dick and Harry second-guessing what the attorney general does and challenging every ruling the attorney general chooses not to?" The ban's backers addressed the potential for such a roadblock in their emergency stay request, saying California's strong citizen initiative law permits ballot measure proponents to defend their interests when state officials refuse to. "We are confident we do have standing to seek the appellate review here, and we realize this case has just begun and we will get the decision overturned on appeal," said Jim Campbell, an Alliance Defense Fund lawyer who is part of the legal team defending Proposition 8. Other legal analysts think the appeals court will allow the group that raised $40 million to pass Proposition 8 to formally challenge Walker's ruling. "What Judge Walker's ruling means is you can sponsor a proposition, direct it, research it, work for it, raise $40 million for it, get it on a ballot, successfully campaign for it and then have no ability to defend it independently in court," said Dale Carpenter, a University of Minnesota constitutional law professor who supports same-sex marriage. "And then a judge maybe let you be the sole defender in a full-blown trial and then says, 'by the way, you never can defend this.' It just seems very unlikely to me the higher courts will buy that." Walker's order clearing the way for same-sex marriages to resume in California for the first time since 52 percent of the state's voters approved Proposition 8 nonetheless raised hopes among gay couples who flocked to government offices to await word that they soon will be able to exchange vows. "We just want equal rights. We're tired of being second-class citizens," said Amber Fox, 35, who went to the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on Thursday morning in hopes of marrying her partner. The couple wed in Massachusetts in June but wanted to make it official in their home state. Teresa Rowe, 31, and her partner, Kristin Orbin, 31, said they were still happy with the decision even though the ceremony didn't happen. The couple went to San Francisco City Hall early Thursday morning to fill out a marriage license application. "It's sad that we have to wait a little longer, but it's been six years," Rowe said. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/08/13/judge-walker-i-doubt-prop_n_681224.html
  3. Thai authorities on Thursday imposed a curfew for three more nights in Bangkok and 23 other provinces to quell conflict in the aftermath of an army offensive against anti-government protesters. A meeting chaired by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva "agreed to impose the curfew to better secure the area and curtail their activities", said Dithaporn Sasasmit, spokesman for the army-run Internal Security Operation Command. A curfew was ordered in Bangkok and 23 provinces Wednesday night between 8pm and 6am to control looting and arson that broke out after the deadly campaign to close down the "Red Shirts" six-week occupation of central Bangkok. However, the new curfew would be shortened to between 9pm and 5am, Dithaporn said, "to lessen the effect on the public". - AFP Channel NewsAsia - Thailand imposes curfew for 3 more nights - channelnewsasia.com
  4. Noam Chomsky once noted that when the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan, at least one Soviet radio station announcer characterised the action as an invasion. He was courageous in presenting such a reasonable depiction of things. But for saying so, the Soviet authorities promptly placed him in a psychiatric hospital. Chomsky argues that people in the Soviet Union could recognise an invasion when they saw one, but risked being put away for saying so publicly. In contrast, no mainstream US media outlet in the 1960s ever suggested that the US involvement in Vietnam was an invasion. The thought was unimaginable. The inability to use such an unpleasant term led to the deaths of at least a few million Vietnamese and more than 50,000 American soldiers. Necessarily coupled with the inability to imagine the act as an invasion was the construction of the North Vietnamese communist terrorist. The same failure of courage and imagination now faces Thai society. Previously, the killing of at least 40 student protesters in October 6, 1976 was considered a massacre, as was the estimated 40 killed in the May 1992 military suppression of protesters calling for the coup leader-cum-prime minister to step down. Since April 10, 2010 more than 50 Thai protesters, many bare-handed or armed with bamboo sticks, have been killed. A number of prominent international journalists in Bangkok have themselves witnessed unarmed protesters being shot by Thai security forces, both on April 10 and over these past few days, especially in the free-fire zones established by the government. It is true that there was a mysterious black-clad force shooting back at the Thai military on April 10, leading to the deaths of five soldiers. And there may be other forces at play in the killings of the past few days. But these factors do not change the basic contours of this struggle: the main body of protesters adhere to non-violence, are unarmed or dramatically under-armed against military and police forces that have been using live ammunition against them. If the red shirts are armed and dangerous, you wouldn't know it from the number of casualties: in the last two days, more than 30 protesters have been killed, and zero army and police personnel. This suggests disproportionate, excessive, and deadly force is being used by security forces in dispersing the protesters. The definition of "massacre" is: an act or an instance of killing a large number of humans indiscriminately and cruelly. Let's be clear about what is happening on the streets of Bangkok: this is massacre. Perhaps not a single act or instance, but when taken as a whole, the military and police operations against the red shirt protesters have killed up to this point more than any crackdown by previous Thai military regimes in the past 50 years! It is a slowly unfurling, staggered massacre with no end in sight. The Thai government has promised to bring an end to the crisis by pushing forward with this slow-motion massacre. If this is not a massacre, then when will it be called one? At 80 killings? At 100 deaths? This massacre, though, differs from previous Thai slayings in a number of ways. First, there has been no outrage over the deaths. Governments abroad are hesitating to condemn the Thai government. Human rights organisations have urged both sides not to use violence and to return to the negotiating table. In 1976, it was largely urban students who were killed. There was an international outcry. In 1992, it was the urban population that was killed. There was a domestic and international outcry. But this time, there is no outrage, but rather a grim celebration of a show of force with the aim of getting those rural people and terrorists out of Bangkok - at any cost. Regardless, these are Thai citizens who are being killed indiscriminately. If one believes that the conduct of the Thai government is acceptable, then at least call this operation what it is: a massacre. We should not console ourselves by saying that the red shirts had been warned by the government of their impending doom, or that there are certain factions of the red shirts killing other red shirts, or that these people are terrorists. Understand and accept that it will be a "continuing massacre". For those who cannot accept the possibility of a massacre, for those who choose to err on the side of caution on the chance that much of the killing is a slaughter of the innocents, then it is time to show and express outrage and moral revulsion. It is time to focus on the responsibility of the Abhisit Vejjajiva government. Whether intentional or due to the carelessness or lack of intelligence on the part of the government in deciding to move against protesters on April 10, the Abhisit government is ultimately morally and legally responsible. The dead deserve their day in court to confront their killers. If the Abhisit government cannot begin to figure out who is responsible for these deaths, it should resign so that an uninterested organisation can begin its work. The death of scores of protesters that night was somehow presented as proof of terrorists and justified their killing. In the last few days, the indiscriminate killing is being justified by the claim that there are some 500 terrorists hiding within the main body of protesters. As a protest leader has said, such a statement is tantamount to an "advance issuance of 500 death certificates" for the protesters, whether they be terrorists or not. This state of affairs, this eager acceptance of a massacre, should not and cannot be acceptable to any dignified and democratic society. Whatever the govt may say, this is a massacre
  5. I just spoke to some policemen and it was confirmed that a curfew is in effect in Pattaya. They also said that all ATM's are closed during the 8PM to 6AM curfew.
  6. I have been told it is confirmed that there is a curfew in Chiang Mai. I have also been told by many that Pattaya is now under curfew but I have not confirmed this.
  7. A TV presenter for CRES special programme Wednesday warned people around the Rajprasong area to avoid getting close to the Central World building, which was about to collapse. Central World building may collapse after arson attack
  8. No answer for you. If lost or stolen are in an accident, you call the dealership and they help you with the paperwork. I know it sounds shady but it has worked many times in the past with Thais I know that have lost their motorbikes and they got their money. I was just told that amount is 1/2 of the purchase price. But, the manager told me 85 percent and that is what I was paid before. However, I was willing to wait for almost a year to get the money.
  9. I buy it as part of the motorcycle dealership when I buy a bike. I think it is about 2k baht for one year. I just keep my receipt as they always attach the insurance to the book and the tag. I do not get a card to carry, like car insurance in USA. I don't get a policy receipt. I only get the money paid. Fishy? I have been told this is the way it is done in Thailand.
  10. BANGKOK — Soldiers have been hit by their own tear gas. Riot police scattered in fear when a party balloon popped. An anti-government protester, surrounded by security forces, escaped down a rope from a hotel balcony to the cheers of supporters. In the two-month standoff between Thai security forces and protesters in Bangkok, there have been times when the demonstrators have seemed more organized and the troops hobbled by incompetence, divided loyalties and dangerous infighting. Some troops have seemed unwilling to obey government orders. Others openly fraternized with the Red Shirt demonstrators — a motley alliance of rural and urban poor. Rather than quash the protest movement while it was vulnerable, these actions have allowed the number of demonstrators to mushroom and fortify themselves. "If Red Shirt organization and staying power has proved surprising, the performance of the security forces has been nothing less than alarming," said Anthony Davis, a Bangkok-based security analyst. "A remarkable display of incompetence and inaction has seen swaths of the capital city calmly surrendered to mob rule." Authorities are trying to choke off a 1-square-mile (3-square-kilometer) area of downtown Bangkok where several thousand die-hard protesters remain entrenched behind barricades of bamboo spikes and tires. The government hopes that will end the crippling demonstration in which at least 66 people have been killed and more than 1,600 wounded. There are signs that the government plan is working. Authorities say the numbers inside the protest zone have shrunk to some 3,000 from 10,000 or more a week ago. But the operation is proving both ineffective and bloody. After the government trumpeted the deployment of overwhelming force — more than 30,000 men and columns of armored personnel carriers — there are inadequate numbers of troops, without any armored vehicles, actually laying siege to the Red Shirt encampment. And even with their diminished numbers, the Red Shirts have been able to punch out of their enclave and fight running gunbattles with sometimes confused military units in several districts of the city. "Despite all the violence so far, it is still unclear if the army would be willing to launch a full-on assault to break up the main protest site," said Andrew Walker, a Thailand expert at The Australian National University. Many within the police, especially in lower echelons, are supporters of the Red Shirts and their hero, ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who began his career in the force. They and sympathizers within the ranks of the army are popularly called "watermelons" — referring to green uniforms but hidden support of the Red Shirt protesters. Several former army officers are serving as military advisers to the anti-government demonstrators. Among them was Maj. Gen. Khattiya Sawasdiphol, who was shot by an apparent sniper last week and died of his wounds Monday. The debilitating divisions within the Royal Thai Army are more complex. For the rest of the article: The Associated Press: Thai protests expose military rifts, incompetence
  11. Yes, when you buy a motorcycle, you should buy the insurance and it only covers the bike. However, I have never seen this policy wording. I have bought at least 20 bikes over the years and never once seen it. All bikes that were stolen have been paid for but it takes several months to get the money. For a Thai, they will offer to settle for much less and give them money fast. I am patient and can wait.
  12. I love Evernote. I would not make it through a day or a week without it. I love the way it helps me to organize data and to have it handily available for me. Evernote is (from Wiki): Evernote is a free suite of software and services designed for notetaking and archival. A "note" can be a piece of formattable text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, or a handwritten "ink" note. Notes can also have file attachments. Notes can then be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, and searched. On supported operating systems, Evernote stores and edits the user's notes on their local machine. Users with internet access and an Evernote account can also have their notes automatically synchronised with a master copy held on the Evernote server. This approach lets a user access and edit their data across multiple machines and operating system platforms, but still view, input and edit data when an internet connection is not available. Where Evernote client software is not available, online account-holders can access their note archive via a web interface, with more limited functionality. The Evernote software can be downloaded and used as "stand-alone" software without setting up an online account, but will not be able to upload files to the Evernote server, or use the server to synchronise or share files between different Evernote installations. As well as the keyboard entry of typed notes, Evernote supports image capture from cameras on supported devices, and the recording of voice notes. In some situations, text that appears in captured images can be recognised using OCR and annotated. Evernote also supports touch and tablet screens with handwriting recognition. Evernote web clipping plugins are available for the most popular internet browsers that allow marked sections of webpages to be captured and clipped to Evernote. If no section of a webpage has been highlighted, Evernote can clip the full page. Where suitable hardware is available, Evernote can automatically add geolocation tags to notes. The online service also allows selected files to be shared for viewing and editing by other users, and allows integration with Twitter for storing or forwarding "tweets". Users can also use the Twitter system to add notes to Evernote remotely, by sending tweets from any Twitter-capable device. The cost for Evernote is 45.00 a year. I find it totally worth it. I like the ability to have extensions installed in my browsers and I see a page that I want to remember I just hit my Evernote button and it is now in Evernote with all data, the url, etc. If I forget the name of the article, I simply type in one word into my search in Evernote and it will appear. It allows me to easily find things that I have saved in the program. I also find it easy to store data there. For example, I have tons of photos. I don't like lugging them around with me. Every month, near the end of my upload limit, I upload all my photos from IPhoto for safe storage. This gives me a way to back all of them up. Also, I have family that I want to be able to access all my personal information. I had my sister install a copy of this on her computer and she keeps that synced. Now, if she needs to know my flight info, she goes there and it is pulled up. If she needs to see a copy of some document, it is there. All my PDF's are synced and all the words inside them are search-able. I LOVE Evernote! It is one program I cannot do without. Welcome to your notable world | Evernote Corporation Watch this video:
  13. LOL No, I just find it easier to manage if I have a different e-mail account for each area of my life. Ex. I travel to Brazil a lot and meet a lot of people there. I give them my e-mail linked to my travels there. I just find it helps me keep things a bit more organized. You can also use this for things other than gmail.
  14. I am going to work on getting a list of all of my favorite programs for the Mac computer. I'll start with my favorite and work my way down. My absolute favorite is MailPlane. It is the most productive way to use Gmail on your Mac. It is on the top of your mac and you can have an unlimited number of GMail accounts it checks. I have over 30 Gmail Accounts and this keeps up with them all. It lets me know when I have new messages and it is easy to install, easy to update new versions and I have used it since it was on the market and never had to pay for an additional upgrade fee. The customer support for this company is great. I love the drop and drag attachments. I like the way it uses the WebKit to access Google and not pop or IMAC. It is without a doubt the most used program I use on my computer. One a scale of 1-5 it is a definitive 5. http://mailplaneapp.com/
  15. These are the models for the Singapore Manhunt Calendar. YUMMY.
  16. The Burmese gov't has started to issue Visa on Arrival at their 2 International airports. This is great news for those of us that want to visit there. The Burmese government has begun issuing visas on arrival for all nationalities at Rangoon and Mandalay international airports, immigration officials say. The initiative began on 1 May, according to an official in Rangoon. Staff at the Myanmar Hotel and Tourism Enterprise’s information desk at Rangoon’s international airport said however that those who are blacklisted by the Burmese government will still be denied the visa. “There is a restriction,” he said. “[Visa applicants] should not be on the blacklist; this will be check upon arrival at the airports. There will also be some questioning. A return ticket, sufficient amount of money and an address of the place staying also need to be declared. These are the basic requirements,” said the official. There are different types of visas on arrival: the tourist visa for $US30 which grants 28 days to stay and cannot be extended; the business visa for $US40 for 70 days stay in the country, which can be extended; the visa for “social reasons” at $US40 for 28 days which allows extension, and the transit visa on arrival, which costs $US18 for 24 hours stay. The Myanmar Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, which first called for use of the visa-on-arrival in 2008, has speculated there will be more tourists in Burma with the new system, which mimics that of other countries. For the entire article: Burma introduces visa on arrival | Democratic Voice of Burma
  17. There is a great discussion about carrying your passport on the Gay Thailand website: Carrying your Passport in LOS - GayThailand.com Forum
  18. Today is World Press Freedom Day. It's the time to take stock of the Thai media scene under the Abhisit government. The past year was hellish for the government due to continuous political crisis and polarisation within our society. Red and yellow divides have spilled over to the media. Each pressure group has its own popular media to engage in mudslinging and propaganda. It has been under this exceptional press liberty that the roles of government and professional journalists have been scrutinised and questioned. First of all, the government has maintained a correct policy in not interfering with the media. Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva himself respects the role and duty of the Thai media. He dutifully answered all questions and has given ample time for questions and answers to be submitted by the press - be they official or impromptu. Unlike previous prime ministers, Abhisit has responded to questions, sometimes even too personal, with honesty and grace. Although the Thai media is still hostile to Abhisit, all have admitted that he has never ducked reporters' questions, even at the time of crisis. For the complete article: Media freedom in Thailand is at stake
  19. The most visited web site after the 2nd Bush election was the Immigration to Canada website. It shot up in the rankings more than any other. I know that many are upset with the course of the USA. I am one of them. I don't think we are going to be the super power in 20 years. China and India are destined to become the next powers. IMHO. We keep getting further and further behind and the more people fight one party affiliation against the other, the further back we move.
  20. The winner was heard from a few weeks back. He has been getting medical treatment and will be using the prize during high season this year.
  21. I think one of the best investments you can buy in Thailand is a motorcycle. They are the easiest for getting around and make life so much easier. If you live a distance from where you go on a daily basis, they also will save money over the long run. It is very easy to buy a motorcycle in Thailand and to have it in your own name. Here a few suggestions. Motorcycles start around 30,000 baht and go up from there. If you buy at a dealer, the prices are negotiable. Be sure to get them to give you 2 helmets (they do with all Thais) and a wrench tool set for fixing minor issues. You can take out a loan for it but the rates are crazy and I suggest paying cash. If you want to put on a CC they will charge you 2.5 percent. They may ask for 3 but tell them NO. Once you purchase, you need to get permission from Immigration. To do this, be sure your Visa is 60 days or longer. Otherwise there may be problems. Coming in on a Visa On Entry is 50/50 whether they will be able to do the paperwork or not. I always get a 60 day extend-able Visa so I know I am covered. You will then go to Immigration. Once at Immigration, you need a copy of the purchase, 2 photo ID's, Copy of your passport, Copy of Home Papers or Rental Agreement and copy of your Visa pages. You can get all the copies at your home or there is usually a place next to Immigration offices that will make for you. If you do yourself, be sure to get a copy of your Visa as well as the stamped page with the entry document. They will take all this and you pay them 200 baht. They will tell you when to pick up the document. You go back and pick it up and take it to the place you purchased the vehicle. Once you give to them, they will tell you to come back in 60 days or so. I usually go early and it is normally done. Be sure to get the insurance and pay for tags at purchase. In case you lose the bike or it is stolen, you will get a partial refund. Also, be sure they give you a temporary tag when you purchase. Make all the arrangements before you pay for the cycle. Once you go back and get your tags, there is a sticker they give you to put on the cycle. Have them put it on for you and you are good to go. Be sure to go back and get services at the suggested dates. I hope this helps.
  22. The European Parliament has said that Croatia, Macedonia and Turkey must prove they can offer "genuine protection" to gay people in order to join the European Union. The three countries have been criticised for their records on LGBT rights and reports given to the European Parliament reminded the candidates that protections such as anti-discrimination laws were "non-negotiable". Croatia was criticised for its 2009 de facto ban on Zagreb Pride and the government's failure to implement anti-discrimination laws. In Turkey, the country's penal code raised concerns for "allowing for the systematic persecution" of gay, bisexual and trans people, while Macedonia was told to cover sexual orientation and gender identity in its anti-discrimination laws. Ulrike Lunacek MEP, co-president of the European Parliament's Intergroup on LGBT Rights, said "I am happy that our amendments in favour of LGBT rights in the progress reports for Macedonia and Croatia were adopted by the European Parliament. "We have reaffirmed that anti-discrimination standards must apply in candidate countries. Michael Cashman MEP, Ms Lunacek's co-president, added: "Accession criteria are crystal clear: minorities must be protected from discrimination as laid out in Article 19 of the Treaty – and that includes sexual orientation. "This is not an à la carte menu: it is at the core of the European Union, and we will be rigorous in its application." European Parliament says candidate countries must offer gays protection - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News
  23. I saw the ad and thought amateurish. Why would the network allow such an ad? It made no sense to me.