Maryland to finally fully outlaw murder

More states need to follow Maryland on this:

By a margin of 82-56, the Maryland House of Delegates voted Friday to ban the death penalty in that state. The bill now goes to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley, who has pledged to sign it.

“To govern is to choose, and at a time where we understand the things that actually work to reduce violent crime, when we understand how lives can be saved, we have a moral responsibility to do more of the things that work to save lives,” O’Malley said at a news conference.

“We also have a moral responsibility to stop doing the things that are wasteful, and that are expensive, and do not work, and do not save lives, and that I would argue run contrary to the deeper principles that unite us as Marylanders, as Americans, and as human beings,” O’Malley added.

The only part of what O’Malley said that should unite us all is that the death penalty runs “contrary to the deeper principles”. That is, the death penalty is a form of murder. It is not self-defense. It is not during a battle or war. It is not justified – no more so than the murders committed by the people we tend to sentence to death.

Baltimore County state attorney Scott Shellenberger, a prominent opponent of the bill, said eliminating capital punishment was unnecessary, since Maryland’s current policy is judicious and one of the “most restrictive in the country.”

Since a law was passed in 2009, a judge can impose death in Maryland only if one of three factors exists: DNA evidence, a videotaped confession or a videotaped murder.

This marks what is, again, the only important factor here. It doesn’t matter if we are 100% certain that so-and-so killed someone. The death penalty is still nothing more than state-sanctioned murder that is only differentiated by mere process, not principle.

Good on you, Maryland.

Well done, Maryland

At least a few states can get things done:

The state Senate voted Thursday to significantly raise taxes on Marylanders earning half a million dollars or more — prompting complaints that liberals were bent on launching class warfare in the state.

The Senate’s vote to adopt what is being dubbed a “millionaire’s tax” came after some liberal-leaning senators said they would refuse to support a smaller, across-the-board increase in income taxes unless the wealthy took a special hit. The chamber was considering a plan to raise taxes on most Maryland taxpayers by up to a quarter of a percentage point — a proposal that eventually passed by a vote of 26-20.

The plan to tax top earners — those earning more than $500,000 a year — at a higher rate would only affect 15,000 households, who would pay at least $2,752 more for joint filers.

I’m not sure how an extra $2700 or so dollars is “significant” when we’re dealing with a half million or higher. I’m sure the wealthy will get along just fine with or without this tax. And I bet they won’t change their spending or investing habits one bit either.

Needed: Maryland practitioner for SLAPP suit

I don’t suspect that too many lawyers read my blog, but empathetic decency compels me to repeat a post from Ken at Popehat:

The issue is whether a plaintiff in a SLAPP suit against another party in Montgomery County, Maryland can convince a court to force Google to reveal the blogger’s identity. The blogger will write the papers; he’s just looking for someone to review them, advise on compliance with Maryland civil procedure and strategy, and make an appearance at the hearing (if there is one) in Montgomery County to argue the motion. The blogger can cover costs, but can’t afford fees.

The cause, in my opinion, is just; the issue presented is blogger anonymity, and the underlying suit against the third party is a contemptible SLAPP. Moreover, the plaintiff has a rather remarkable history of evil.

If you can help — or know someone who can — please let me know. Time is rather of the essence.

Thank you.

And, no, I do not have any inside info on any of this.

Same-sex marriage in Maryland

If there’s one thing we know about the U.S. constitution, it’s that none of our laws are allowed to support any particular religion. And by “we”, I mean those of us who haven’t been blinded by, well, a particular religion. For that other group – you know, the irrational one – things aren’t so clear.

Supporters of same-sex marriage came to Annapolis on Tuesday armed with personal stories, emotional pleas for equal treatment and arguments about how allowing gay couples to marry could help Maryland’s economy.

Opponents countered with biblical verses, research suggesting that children are better off with both a mother and a father, and warnings that “redefining marriage” could undermine other social institutions.

Emphasis added.

As for the rest, there is no research which says children are better off with a mother and father versus with two mothers or two fathers. This is exactly what I was talking about when I lamented the abuse of science. It’s so ugly when science is abused to support bigotry. The only silver lining here is that this makes it all the more clear that the bigots have no real arguments; their dogma demands they resort to just making it all up.

Fortunately, according to the people on the right side of history, this bill has a good chance.

Before the proceedings, Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) put the chance of passing a same-sex marriage bill by his chamber at 60 to 70 percent, saying a vote could come next week.

If the bill clears the Senate, then the House of Delegates, typically the more liberal chamber on social issues, would take up the issue, deciding whether Maryland should join the District and five states that allow same-sex marriage.

I don’t know what the state’s citizen appeals process looks like, much less how many bigots populate the state, but all the reports make it sound like it’s just a matter of time until Maryland becomes the newest state to treat more of its citizens fairly – and with absolutely no ill consequences, just like in every other instance.

A mystery? It must have been God.

Astronomers have detected a lour roar from faraway space.

ARCADE’s mission was to search the sky for faint signs of heat from the first generation of stars, but instead they heard a roar from the distant reaches of the universe.

“The universe really threw us a curve,” Kogut said. “Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted.”

Detailed analysis of the signal ruled out primordial stars or any known radio sources, including gas in the outermost halo of our own galaxy.

Other radio galaxies also can’t account for the noise – there just aren’t enough of them.

“You’d have to pack them into the universe like sardines,” said study team member Dale Fixsen of the University of Maryland. “There wouldn’t be any space left between one galaxy and the next.”

The signal is measured to be six times brighter than the combined emission of all known radio sources in the universe.

For now, the origin of the signal remains a mystery.

“We really don’t know what it is,”said team member Michael Seiffert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

“This is what makes science so exciting,” Seiffert said. “You start out on a path to measure something – in this case, the heat from the very first stars – but run into something else entirely, some unexplained.”