Lack of Access to Toilets

Toilets are something that most of us take for granted. Having a modern bathroom with modern plumbing is something that we all expect. We all want to have a flush toilet in our homes, and we can’t imagine going on without one. It would seem that a toilet is something that absolutely everyone has, but that is not the case. Unfortunately, Doe Deere points out that too many go without a modern toilet.

Studies suggest that one in every three humans on the earth do not have access to a proper toilet. One third of those on the earth are without something that most take for granted. One third of people are without the kind of toilet that will help them keep their home neat and tidy. One third of people are living without something as simple as a flush toilet. This is sad news, and this is cause for action.

SF Waldo Tunnel is Now Robin Williams Tunnel

A San Francisco tunnel has been re-named the Robin Williams Tunnel, after the late comedian who suddenly passed away last year.

This tunnel was originally known as the Waldo Tunnel. What makes it distinctive from other tunnels is that the tunnel is rainbow-painted.

The California state assembly unanimously passed legislation to re-name this distinctive San Francisco tunnel. The idea to re-name the tunnel from Julie Wainwright who started a petition on a website to name the tunnel after the popular comedian/actor. The bill still has to go through the Senate Transportation Committee, but Sam Tabar noted that it seems unlikely that this committee would say no to such a popular idea.

Williams had actually mentioned the tunnel in his act, but not in a good way. He said that the rainbows were actually being used by Marin County as an ethnicity detector. It seems that Marin County at that time did not like people of color.

U.S. Court Gives NSA Approval To Resume Data Collection

In a report by Reuters, the National Security Agency has been given permission to resume their program of bulk data collection from American’s telephone usage, according to court documents released this past Tuesday.

The program, first brought to public attention through several media outlets with documents supplied by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, for a time captured the unease of many in the public who found the program to be highly invasive and dubious in its legal standing. As far back as May of this year, an appeals court determined that the USA Patriot Act from the Bush era had not given the USA the authority to collect this bulk data from Americans’ phone calls.

The permission to resume these unsanctioned practices comes from the passing of the Freedom Act. This new law, Daniel Amen indicates, reforms the bulk data program from its existing parameters when it ended on June 1. With this law, a judge from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court determined that the NSA is allowed to continue for the next six months as legal review analyzes how to continue forward.

Prior to its discontinuation, the program collected and analyzed data of Americans’ phone calls. This includes the numbers dialed, the duration of the call, and its length. According to NSA officials and several government officials representatives, this does not include the content of private conversations which would still require the powers granted through a warrant.

LGBT Pride and Marriage Equality Flags Displayed All Weekend

After the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, June 26, to make same-sex marriages legal, people around the world showed their support by displaying the LGBT+ pride flag — a rainbow flag that had already been a large focus for many throughout the month because June is LGBT Pride Month.

Over the weekend, several buildings and landmarks were lit up with rainbow lights, including The White House, Disney theme parks and Niagara Falls. Online, many websites also displayed LGBT Pride Symbols. Facebook allowed users to cover their inset profile pictures with a see-through rainbow flag. Skout reported that Google added a rainbow heart doodle to its main Search page and a banner of people in rainbow colors holding hands with hearts next to the Search Tools option on all search results pages. A lot of people also celebrated by displaying the Human Rights Campaign Marriage Equality flag — a red flag with a pink “equal” symbol.

There’s little doubt more LGBT Pride and Marriage Equality symbols will appear today, tomorrow and over the upcoming weeks — especially over the Fourth of July weekend during which independence and freedom are celebrated across the United States.

Last week, the nation experienced a wonderful change in regards to values. One moment the Confederate battle flag, a symbol of oppression, was removed from many state government properties; and then the next moment basic rights were extended to a minority group.

Scott Walker Still Holding Out on Declaring His Candidacy

In case you were curious… Scott Walker the Governor of Wisconsin has not yet officially declared that he will be a candidate for President. This has not stopped pollsters from including him in the questioning of likely voters and surprisingly this little fact has not hurt him. He has been noted to be at or near the top of all polls against some fairly significant candidates who are probably more qualified than he is. Of course the only reason this is significant is the upcoming debate to be held on Fox News in August which will only feature the top ten candidates according to their national polling data. They would have the same rules for the Democrats in their debate if they had 10 real candidates competing for their nomination. But given that there are now 13 candidates that are declared with the addition of Bobby Jindal and Scott Walker who is about to declare in the middle of next month making it 14 people might be wondering just who will be included in this very important and really early debate?

Well Scott Walker who will be in the race by that time. Jeb Bush who is currently leading among most polls. Followed by Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, and either Rick Santorum or Chris Christie. That would leave out Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, Rick Perry, Lindsey Graham, and George Pataki. I know that we have listed sixteen names here but in all likelihood that is how many actual candidates the voters in the beginning primaries will have to decide from. Quite a few at Madison Street Capital are just waiting for the numbers to be cut down.

Some Alabama Judges Refuse to Issue Any Marriage License

An Alabama judge has refused to issue marriage licenses since February 2015 and will continue to refuse requests to do so, following the Supreme Court ruling that legalizes same sex marriage nationwide.

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen made the announcement late June 26, shortly after the Supreme Court verdict was announced.

“My office quit issuing marriage licenses months ago and that policy has not changed,” Allen said.

Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic has made a similar announcement.

According to Alabama state law, probate judges may marry a couple, but it is not mandated.

“People can do whatever they want in private,” Hamic stated. “But this is based on my Christian beliefs.

One Alabama judge stated in the past that he would “rather go to jail, as opposed to perform a same sex marriage.”

Probate Judge W. Hardy McCollum in Tuscaloosa County is playing it safe by opting to wait 21 days before issuing same sex marriage licenses. In other counties across that state, some county probate judges have chosen to begin issuing the marriage licenses next week, while others have chosen to suspend it indefinitely. It’s something that will continue to be a hot topic for Crystal Hunt and others to watch.

Remnants Of The Confederate Flag Are Still Visible In Seven Other State Flags

The American Civil War ended 150 years ago, but the fighting never ended. Some of Southern states that fought under the Confederate flag still have remnants of the flag incorporated into their state flags. The Confederate flag is the symbol of Southern heritage for some people, but others think the flag represents hatred and injustice. The recent event in South Carolina proves that the fighting hasn’t ended. The battle is still active in the minds of bigots across the country.

Most people believe the War Between the States was solely based on the slave issue. Slavery was one of the main issues, but there were other events that cause the southern states to leave the union. NJ Spotlight pointed out that there were boundary disputes out west that became an important issue for the South, and trade between the North and Europe was another big issue.

The North was squeezing the South financially. Southern crops were unvalued by the North, and then sold are a higher price out of the country. Another interesting fact is the first slaves that arrived in this country were Northern slaves. The South bought the first slaves from the North long before the war started. So there is more meaning behind the Confederate flag that most people think. It represents a push by the South to get equal rights in trade and land, as well as the right to own slaves.

President Obama Set to Delivery Friday’s Eulogy in Charleston, South Carolina

President Obama will be heading to Charleston, South Carolina, to deliver the eulogy for the late Reverend Clementa Pinckney, a victim in the tragedy that gripped the city last week. Pickney was also a state senator. It will be interesting to see how the president deals with the sensitive issue. Thus far, his comments have been directed more at explaining that racism does not get erased overnight. The president also drew attention to a podcast interview he conducted with stand-up comedian Marc Maron wherein he stated that racism is more than not invoking the racial pejorative N-word in public. The president also stated that the nation is not cured of racism.

Some people have criticized the president for not rushing to Charleston as he did in Baltimore. That said, his aides now acknowledge that his presence in the city would actually become a distraction by diverting valuable resources away from the city. Thus far, the majority of South Carolinians have been supportive of the victims of the tragedy. The legislature will soon take up the issue of removing the Confederate Flag from the state capitol. It will take a two-thirds majority of the legislature to approve the action. Still, Dr. Daniel Amen says the symbol played a role in inspiring the tragedy which should help the legislature take a bold stand against any aspect of racism. For her part, the state’s governor has vowed she will bring the legislature back for a special assembly if that is what it takes to remove the flag.

Smoking Age Raised in Hawaii

If you’re a young smoker in the state of Hawaii, you may be in for some bad news: on June 19, the governor signed a bill that raises the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, making it the first state in the US to do so.

This bill will go into effect on January 1, 2016, and also bans the sales of electronic cigarettes to anyone under 21 as well. Governor David Ige hopes that by raising the legal age to smoke in the state, it will prevent the youth from getting hooked on tobacco from a young age, as 9 out 10 smokers said they started before the age of 21. Ige has also signed a bill banning smoking from state parks and beaches.

Although Hawaii is the first state to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21, it’s not the first time this action’s been taken. Folks at The Aspire New Brunswick told TheVueNJ.com that they wouldn’t mind seeing this take place in New Jersey. Prior to this bill, New York City and Hawaii County already set their legal smoking ages at 21.

Many argue that by raising the legal smoking age limit to 21, it limits choices that people considered as adults have, such as drinking and joining the military. However, others believe that by putting the bill into action, it would significantly reduce smoking related diseases.

Second Breach of Data Found at Federal Office of Personnel Management

Obama recently spoke out at the G7 summit about the need for increased security on federal computer systems because of a breach of data at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). During the investigation of the original breach found at the OPM a second breach of data was discovered that could impact millions of Americans that don’t work for the federal government.

Hackers were able to steal information from a document used to apply for national security positions known as Standard Form 86. As you might imagine, Standard Form 86 asks for a plethora of personal information including mental health records, drug and alcohol use, criminal background and more. The most damaging part of the form is a segment used to list relatives and other contacts. This data could potentially be used against millions of Americans not even employed by the federal government.

Many sources close to the White House have been implicating China in the cyber attacks on the OPM. There’s still no official word on who is being blamed. Susan McGalla told us that Obama is threatening to use sanctions against the group responsible for the attacks.

It is believed that all federal employees were impacted in some way by the breach of data. Those who were affected will be contacted within 30 days regarding the extent of the breach.