MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9 This week of shame-free strangers, antiracist FBI directors, and at least two stories so upsetting we cannot subject them to breezy summary kicked off at the Supreme Court of the United States, which today made a potentially huge move in the political chess game that is the quest for same-sex marriage. At issue: a request from the state of Alabama, whose attorney general is seeking to suspend same-sex marriage in the state until after the Supremes issue their ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans later this year. Today the Supreme Court denied Alabama's request, simultaneously tipping their hand about their forthcoming constitutionality ruling and clearing the way for Alabama to immediately become the 37th state where gay marriage is legal. "Of the nine justices, only two—conservatives Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia—dissented from the court's refusal to block gay weddings from starting in Alabama," reported Reuters. "Thomas acknowledged in a dissenting opinion that the court's move to allow gay marriages to go ahead 'may well be seen as a signal of the court's intended resolution' as it considers cases from four other states on whether same-sex marriage bans are permitted under the US Constitution." Meanwhile in Alabama, a whole bunch of same-sex couples spent the day getting married, with the stream of glorious just-married photos gushing out of the state inspiring an equal stream of happy witness tears across the nation. Nevertheless, "same-sex couples in 42 of Alabama's 67 counties encountered difficulties in getting marriage licenses, with some counties refraining from issuing licenses to gay couples and others shutting down their marriage license operations altogether," reported Reuters. "This followed an order by Roy Moore, the conservative chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, instructing probate judges to issue no marriage licenses to gay couples despite a federal court ruling in January throwing out the state's gay marriage ban... Moore's chief of staff said the directive still stood despite Monday's US Supreme Court action." Addressing the refusal of state judges to follow the federal ruling, constitutional law expert Ronald Krotoszynski said that the judges are indeed obligated to obey the federal ruling but may be inclined to make an initial show of resistance to appeal to Alabama voters and protect their elected judgeships. As Krotoszynski told Reuters, "It makes the courage of the judges that have followed the federal order all the more remarkable." Congratulations, America!
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 In worse news, the week continued in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where early this evening a 911 operator received a call reporting 5 to 10 shots and the sound of people screaming at an apartment complex. Police arrived to find 21-year-old Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha, her 23-year-old husband, Deah Shaddy Barakat, and her 19-year-old sister, Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, all fatally shot in the head inside the apartment leased by the married couple. Before the end of the day, another resident of the apartment complex—46-year-old Craig Stephen Hicks—will turn himself in to police, and tomorrow, the self-described "gun-toting atheist" will appear in court to face charges of first-degree murder.
Details on the victims come from the Associated Press: "Barakat and Yusor Abu-Salha were newlyweds who helped the homeless and raised funds to help Syrian refugees in Turkey this summer. They met while running the Muslim Student Association at NC State before he began pursuing an advanced degree in dentistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."
Details on Hicks come from his neighbors—who describe him as perpetually angry and confrontational—and from his current wife, Karen Hicks, who told the AP that the killings "related to long-standing parking disputes my husband had with various neighbors regardless of their race, religion, or creed." And while fatal parking disputes are indeed a factual component of life on earth (see the Yakima man now facing murder charges following a fatal dispute over a driveway), some are incredulous at claims that the victims' Muslim faith played no role in today's tragedy. "The media here bombards the American citizen with Islamic, Islamic, Islamic terrorism and makes people here scared of us and hate us and want us out," said the female victims' father, Mohammad Abu-Salha, to the AP. "So if somebody has any conflict with you, and they already hate you, you get a bullet in the head."
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11 Speaking of fatal tragedies that will likely inspire significant protests, the week continued in Pasco, Washington, where today several dozen people gathered outside City Hall to protest the fatal shooting of an unarmed man by Pasco police. Details come from Reuters, which identified the victim as 35-year-old Antonio Zambrano-Montes, a Mexican citizen and orchard worker whose tangle with police began yesterday evening, in the parking lot of a Fiesta Foods grocery store, where Zambrano-Montes reportedly threw rocks at three police officers. According to the official police statement, the officers commanded the rock-throwing man to surrender, after which they attempted to incapacitate him with a stun gun, after which they fatally shot him. However, as Reuters reported, "A video of the incident posted on YouTube and cited by local media showed the man running away from the three officers before he was killed." On Friday, investigators will confirm that Zambrano-Montes was unarmed at the time of his fatal shooting, and his wife will file a $25 million claim against the city of Pasco for allegedly killing her husband "execution style... with no knife or firearm in his hands." Not helping anything: the stark fact that police in Pasco have fatally shot more people in the past six months than police in Germany have over the past three years.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 12 In better news, the week continued at Georgetown University, where today FBI director James Comey gave a speech addressing the need for hard conversations about race relations in the US. After discussing the recent spate of unarmed black men being killed by white police officers, Comey moved on to slipperier territory. "Debating the nature of policing is very important, but I worry that it has become an excuse at times to avoid doing something harder," said Comey, insisting that racial bias is no more widespread in law enforcement than it is in academia or the arts and calling for a national debate on real and perceived racial biases at play across American society. "Comey's speech marked the first time in recent history that an FBI director has specifically addressed the issue of race," reported Reuters. "[Comey also] called for local law enforcement agencies to begin mandating data collection on shooting deaths by police broken down by demographics."
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13 In even lighter news, the week continued in Southern California, where today the chance meeting of two strangers led to a full-on sex show before horrified onlookers at a Chula Vista strip mall. As San Diego's ABC 10 News reports, the impromptu fuckfest involved a 20-year-old man and a 38-year-old woman, "who Chula Vista police said had just met on the trolley" and who immediately got to rolling around on the pavement in front of Christina's dress shop. "[Witnesses] said the man and woman seemed oblivious to the fact that it was 3:30 p.m. and they were surrounded by people in a shopping strip mall," reported 10 News. "The two kept their clothes on for the first 15 minutes then [witnesses] overheard the man convince his new friend to take their relationship to the next level. He stripped off all his clothes; she kept her skirt on." "It was unbelievable," said eyewitness Christy Peterson to 10 News. "Her legs were in the air and the guy was on top. We were so shocked, our mouths were just opened." As for resolution: "We're told the man was taken away in handcuffs and taken to jail," reported 10 News. "The woman was given a citation."
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14 Nothing happened today.
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15 Ditto.
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