Three airplane flights have been compelled to make premature landings due to reclining seats. The first was on August 24 when two passengers on a United Airlines flight got into a fight after one used a “knee defender device” on the other’s reclining seat. The second was only days later when a Frenchman was arrested on his flight from Paris to Miami and caused his plane to land early after assaulting a flight crewmember about a reclining seat. The third was on September 2 when a woman was “hit” in the head by the passenger in front of her reclining the seat too far. The woman’s tantrum forced her Delta Airlines flight flying from New York’s La Guardia Airport to West Palm Beach Florida to make an unexpected landing in Jacksonville.
Following a federal appeals court ruling that struck down Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed rules to guarantee a free and open internet, the FCC has announced it will propose rules that would allow internet content providers to pay for special lanes to deliver content faster. Consumer advocacy groups are attacking the proposal on the basis that prices for service providers that can afford the fast lanes such as Disney or Netflix would probably be made to raise prices, while at the same time, smaller start-ups will be unable to afford the lanes which would stifle creativity and innovation online.
Intuit, the company responsible for making TurboTax, has been linked to a grassroots campaign against a long-standing proposal called Return Free to allow taxpayers the option to use prefilled tax returns from the IRS instead of having to fill out the forms or using a tax preparation service. Agents working for the public relations and lobbying firm JCI Worldwide have worked to convince community leaders to write op-eds that Return Free would be harmful to members of their respective communities. The lobbying firm listed Intuit as a client, until it had been contacted on the matter by independent newspaper ProPublica and has since called the listing a mistake.
After the overturning of a 2013 court ruling, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will now be able to register as an official religion in Poland. The overturning was based on the parody religion not being given a requested extension to turn in documents which would have made the religion official in Poland. Polish Pastafarians, the term for followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, greeted the announcement by shouting “pasta” repeatedly in unison in front of the Warsaw court.
The Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision has struck down the decades-old aggregate political spending cap on a First Amendment basis. While the $2600 per candidate per election limit is still legal, individuals are no longer limited in the total amount of political contributions that can be made every two years. Justice Breyer, in his dissenting opinion writes that the ruling would allow “a single individual to contribute millions of dollars to a political party or to a candidate’s campaign”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law formalizing the annexation of Europe. While no one else is recognizing the annexation, Putin said while Bond-villainously stroking a white cat “muahahaha let them protest, first Europe, next the world”. The United Nations has announced a plans to pass a resolution to send a rather strongly worded letter at some point assuming Russia doesn’t veto the resolution or failing to pass the resolution, will make Russia sit with the lame countries at the UN cafeteria.
Towns across the United States are opposing the increasing militarization of local police forces. Grants from the Department of Homeland Security have been funding the purchase of heavily fortified vehicles for use by police forces. Peter Kraska, a professor in the School of Justice Studies at Eastern Kentucky University, links the antipathy towards police militarization to revelations about the extent of government spying programs.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has publicly accused the CIA of illegally searching the Senate computer system and deleting files relating to an Intelligence Committee study and investigation of interrogation and detention techniques during the George W. Bush administration. CIA officers could face criminal prosecution if an investigation was launched by the Justice Department. CIA Chief John Brennan says his agency acted appropriately and had not violated any laws.
A federal judge in San Antonio has ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize the validity of out-of-state same-sex marriages are unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia writes in his ruling, “Regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states and remains so today, However, any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution. ” The two bans will, however, remain in effect for the time being as the judge has issued a stay until the issue is resolved by a higher court.
Stephen Bax, Professor of Applied Linguistics at University of Bedfordshire has decoded part of the Voynich Manuscript. The Voynich Manuscript is a 600 year-old cryptically coded document that since its discovery had not been decoded or had its purpose determined. After using techniques similar to those used to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphs, Professor Bax believes the document to be a treatise on nature originating in Asia.