The Republican governor of Kansas issued an executive order to strip protections for state employees so they would not be discriminated on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation. Sam Brownback's order on Tuesday rescinds an executive order from his Democratic predecessor who expanded anti-discrimination protection. "Any such expansion of 'protected classes' should be done by the legislature and not through unilateral action," Brownback said, adding that his order also includes language to encourage hiring of veterans and the disabled.
The State Department is backing up President Obama's assertion in an interview with Vox that the victims of a terrorist attack on a kosher deli in Paris last month were targeted at "random." The lead spokesperson for the State Department, Jen Psaki, said Tuesday: "They were not all victims of one background or one nationality." Psaki emphasized that the store was a Jewish grocery but the people inside were targeted individually. Psaki is wrong, though: All four victims were Jewish (and buried in Israel). Furthermore, gunman Amedy Coulibay called from inside the store to a broadcast news outlet and said: "I have 16 hostages and I have killed four, and I targeted them because they were Jewish."Psaki later tweeted: "We have always been clear that the attack on the kosher grocery store was an anti-semitic attack that took the lives of innocent people."
A minister was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday after she offered to perform a same-sex marriage inside of an Alabama probate judge's office a day after nuptials for gays began in the state. Anne Susan Diprizio is being held on $1,000 bond after she refused to leave an Autauga County probate office, where Courtney Cannon and Morgan Plunkett had received a marriage license. Diprizio offered to conduct the ceremony inside the office but was eventually handcuffed and led across the street to a local jail.
Taylor Swift has threatened legal action against a man who claims he taught her how to play guitar. Ronnie Cremer, a computer technician and part-time musician, told the New York Daily News that he was Swift's guitar instructor and launched the website itaughttaylorswift.com. TAS Rights Management sent Cremer an email telling him the domain "incorporates the famous Taylor Swift trademark in its entirety and suggests TAS's sponsorship or endorsement of your website. The Domain Name and your use of the Domain Name are also highly likely to dilute, and to tarnish, the famous Taylor Swift trademark." Cremer, for his part, told the Daily News, "I almost feel like they were trying to bully me a little bit. I'm not giving back the domain name. I mean, Go Daddy sold it to me."
The astronaut who took one giant leap for mankind kept a bit of outer space swag for himself. Neil Armstrong's widow said she discovered that he stashed 20 items from 1969's Apollo 11 mission in a white cloth bag, known among astronauts as "the purse," in their suburban Cincinnati home. Among the artifacts was a 16mm-movie camera that recorded Armstrong's "one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind" as well as footage of he and Buzz Aldrin planting the American flag on the moon. Other less-sentimental items in Armstrong's private collection included cables and a "waste-management cover." Armstrong passed away in August 2012 at the age of 82.
A construction project in Abu Dhabi that will eventually house satellite museums of the Louvre and Guggenheim, as well as a campus of New York University, is abusing its workers, according to an 82-page report by Human Rights Watch released Tuesday. Workers at the Saadiyat Island site have had wages and benefits withheld, recruiting fees un-reimbursed, passports confiscated, and housing accommodations shortchanged, according to the report. When workers went on strike to protest the conditions, several hundred were deported by Abu Dhabi.
A second person's DNA was discovered in the home where an Argentine prosecutor was found dead last month. Alberto Nisman was found dead in his bathroom with a bullet wound in his head after he accused President Cristina Fernandez of covering up the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in order to protect Iran. Nisman was killed shortly before he was scheduled to testify before the Argentine congress that Fernandez was trying to derail his investigation into the attack. (Nisman even drafted an arrest warrant for Fernandez.) Until Tuesday, there was no other evidence indicating another person had been in Nisman's home, which had been under guard. The Argentinian president's chief of staff recently stressed that all evidence indicated Nisman took his own life. Before that, the government had said they believed their own rogue intelligent agents had killed Nisman. However, the case's judge filed court papers saying there was now DNA evidence "corresponding to a genetic profile different from Nisman's."
From 1877 to 1950, nearly 4,000 blacks were lynched across the South. On Tuesday, their names were finally revealed. The Equal Justice Project released an inventory that includes 700 people whose deaths were previously unaccounted for in lynching records. "If you're trying to make a point that the amount of racial violence is underestimated, well then, there's no doubt about it," said Professor E.M. Beck of the University of Georgia, who has worked on researching and revising other lynching records. "What people don't realize here is just how many there were, and how close. Places they drive by every day." The organization plans to erect markers and memorials across the 16 states where blacks were hung, shot, beaten, stabbed, castrated, and set on fire.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn firmly denied charges of aggravated pimping at a trial in northern France. "I committed no crime," the former IMF chief said when he took the stand Tuesday, though he did admit to participating in the orgies organized by businessman David Roque in Lille. He is facing charges along with 13 others, including a former police commissioner and a brothel owner nicknamed "Dodo the Pimp." The former French presidential hopeful was attacked by topless Femen protesters who jumped on his car when he arrived at the trial. Strauss-Kahn has faced multiple allegations of sexual assault during his career, including a 2011 case involving a New York City hotel maid that earned international attention.
One of President Obama's closest advisers said he lied to the country for his own political benefit when he publicly stated his opposition to same-sex marriage in 2008. In his new book, Believer: My Forty Years in Politics, David Axelrod writes that he knew Obama supported gay marriage in 2008. Axelrod quotes the then-candidate as saying "I'm just not very good at bullshitting," after a campaign event where he stated his opposition. In an interview with Lloyd Grove at The Daily Beast on Tuesday, Axelrod elaborated on what he wrote and gave insight into Obama's "evolving" position on same-sex marriage."There's no doubt that his sympathies were on the side of allowing gay couples to marry," Axelrod said of Obama in 2008. "He also recognized that the country wasn't there yet—that we needed to bring the country along."In 2011, Obama said privately that if he was still in the Illinois legislature, he would vote for same-sex unions. "This was always the most vexing issue because there was some part of him that so wanted to say [about his public opposition to gay marriage], 'You know what? I just don't believe this.'"
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