By Lydia Wheeler The Supreme Court has a tough question ahead: Where do you draw the line between free speech and discrimination? The case headed to the high court in the new term that begins next month centers on Jack Phillips, the owner of the Colorado-based Masterpiece Cakeshop who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding. Phillips claims he shouldn’t be forced to under the state’s anti-discrimination law and gained a strong ally this week when the Trump administration filed a friend of the court brief on his behalf. Acting Solicitor General Jeffrey Wall and DOJ attorneys claim there is no clear line between Phillips’s speech and that of his clients when he designs and creates a custom wedding cake. “He is not merely tolerating someone else’s message on his property; he is giving effect to their message by crafting a unique product with his own two hands,” the administration said in its 41-page brief. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Davide Castelvecchi The Pierre Auger Observatory in Argentina finally has solid evidence that the most energetic particles in nature come from sources outside the Milky Way. Scientists have suspected this for decades, but weren’t able to confirm it — until now. “For the first time, we have proof that the highest-energy cosmic rays are of extragalactic origin,” says Alan Watson, a UK astronomer and co-founder of the observatory. The result comes as a relief to the researchers, after previous claims regarding their origin made ten years ago by the Pierre Auger Collaboration subsequently turned out to be premature. The international team analysed 12 years’ worth of data, and found that particles in the upper range of energies were more likely to come from a region of the sky outside the Milky Way’s disk. That asymmetry is roughly consistent with the distribution of neighbouring galaxies, the researchers report in the 22 September issue of Science1. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Alice Klein The sky above is grey and drizzly, but the wetlands are still beautiful to behold. Flocks of magpie geese settle on the glassy water, honking and nibbling at bright green tufts of sedge. I’m at Mungalla Station, a cattle property in far north Queensland. Here, a large-scale conservation project is underway. Its aim: to help save the Great Barrier Reef 20 kilometres away, out at sea. The Great Barrier Reef is a World Heritage Site, and one that is known to be in dire trouble. The obvious threats are climate change and coral bleaching, both of which could kill swathes of the corals. But another major problem is agricultural run-off. About 10 million tonnes of sludge from farms wash onto the reef each year, smothering the coral, says Mungalla’s director Jacob Cassady. Cassady is a member of the local Nywaigi people, who took over Mungalla when it was returned to them by the Indigenous Land Corporation in 1999. At that time, the property had been damaged by more than a century of cattle farming. Overgrazing had caused soil erosion, native vegetation had been cleared, and the wetlands along the coast were choked with invasive weeds. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By Julia Manchester Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said on Thursday that it’s unreasonable for taxpayers to repeatedly pay for homes that have flooded, suggesting that homeowners move out of at-risk houses. “We have these repetitive loss properties. So, for example, we have one property outside of Baton Rouge that has a modest home worth about $60,000 that’s flooded over 40 times. The taxpayers have paid almost half a million dollars for it,” Hensarling said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.” “At some point, God is telling you to move,” he added. “If all we do is force federal taxpayers to build the same home in the same fashion in the same location and expect a different result, we all know that is the classic definition of insanity,” he continued. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.
By David Badash Over the weekend “Judge” Roy Moore referred to Native Americans and Asians as “reds and yellows.” The leading candidate in the runoff race to be the Republican nominee to fill the seat in the U.S. Senate vacated by Jeff Sessions, Moore has a lengthy history of racism, homophobia, and religious extremism. And Moore tried to defend his use of the racist slurs by taking to Twitter and claiming they’re from the Bible. They’re not. “Red, yellow, black and white they are precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world. This is the Gospel,” Moore tweeted. No, it’s not, according to CNN, which notes the phrase he tweeted is a Sunday School hymn. Either way, Moore’s racism is showing. Moore is a virulently anti-gay activist who once instructed Alabama judges to refuse same-sex couples marriage licenses – after the Supreme Court had ruled so doing was unconstitutional. Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.