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.
As of Tuesday February 4, the Committee to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Alaska received enough valid signatures to place a measure on a ballot before voters. If the initiative passes, Alaska would be the third state to legalize the sale of recreational marijuana behind Colorado and Washington. According to a poll by Public Policy Voting, 55% of registered voters in Alaska support the measure. The measure will also call for a $50 per ounce excise tax on marijuana coming from cultivation facilities and stores.
The U.S. government is seeking death penalty against the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. In a statement by US Attorney General Eric Holder, plans of pushing capital punishment are in order. Holder shared that the government believes the nature and harm done by this issue are forcing this action. During the Boston Marathon bombing, three victims were killed and over 260 injured.
Car bomb in Nigeria
17 people died in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri due to a car bomb. Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attack. This was one of many attacks in Boko Haram’s terrorist campaign. Military forces claimed to have arrested a suspect. Approximately 1,200 Nigerians have died due to radical Islamic activities since the beginning of this campaign.
Two men were arrested in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh for offering free hugs. After observing the “free-hug” movements in other countries, Saudi citizen Bandr al-Swed was inspired to start his own. He attempted to brighten people’s day by offering strangers free hugs, believing that it could make the country a happier place. The religious police stated that the practice was “exotic and offending public order.” After the arrest, the two men were obligated to sign a pledge stating that they would not offer free hugs again.
A suicidal gunman murdered an Iranian rock band. Gunman Ali Rafie charged through a Brooklyn apartment complex, murdering the three members of the indie rock band Yellow Dogs. Reports say that Rafie went through five magazines in his rifle before killing himself on the apartment roof. Friends of Rafie stated that he was kicked out of a different band, the Free Keys, which had close ties to the Yellow Dogs.
Last Tuesday, India’s Mars Orbiter Mission (coined MOM) took off with no foreseen complications. The primary goal of this mission is to prove to the international community that India has the capability to reach space and perform experiments, as told by representatives of India’s space agency. If the 300 day mission is successful, India will become the 4th country to have successfully sent a probe to the Red Planet.