April 5th, 2014
Sky watchers are getting ready for an evening of special viewing when a total lunar eclipse arrives just after midnight on April 15.
What's more, this begins a rare sequence of four total lunar eclipses expected over the next two years.
YOUR TAKE: Share your eclipse, starry sky photos
Some Christians see this series of so-called blood moons as linked to a biblical prophecy of the End Times.
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, Earth and moon line up so the Earth's shadow falls on the moon, darkening it.
The one on April 15 will begin at 1:20 a.m. on the East Coast, according to Sky and Telescope magazine.
"Eclipses are one of the few astronomical events that can easily be enjoyed with the naked eye," though a pair of binoculars brings it into even greater focus, said astronomy writer Gary Kronk.
As it begins, "the Earth's shadow will make a slow crawl across the moon's face, appearing as if there is an increasingly large 'bite' taken out of the moon," said Deborah Byrd with EarthSky.org, an online science magazine.
At first, the full moon will just appear to be a little darker than normal, "but eventually people will notice a much darker arc moving across the moon, with a distinct rusty reddish-brown color," said astronomer Gerald McKeegan at the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, Calif.
The bloody red color the moon takes on during an eclipse is caused by refraction of sunlight by the Earth's atmosphere."It is the same effect that you see when the sun turns reddish-orange at sunset, only in this case the refracted sunlight projects all the way to the moon," McKeegan said.
This eclipse also features an extra astronomical quirk. Mars will appear "as a fiery red 'star' next to the moon. Together red Mars and the red shadow on the moon's face should be a spectacular sight and an incredible photo opportunity," said Byrd.
The only downside to this month's lunar eclipse is that it comes very late at night for most of America.
However, many observatories and science museums will have special events during the eclipse. For those where it's cloudy, the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles will be streaming the event live.
The April 15 eclipse marks the start of a lunar tetrad. That event occurs when there are four successive total lunar eclipses, with no partial lunar eclipses in between, each of which is separated from the other by six full moons.
A book out last year, Four Blood Moons: Something is about to change, suggests the event could be a fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
In it, John Hagee writes that the red disks of the moon during the full eclipses are referred to in the book of Joel 2:31: "The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord come."
The other three eclipses of this lunar tetrad are on Oct. 8 of this year and then April 8 and Sept. 28 of 2015.
Tetrads are by no means unknown, says Byrd. There will be a total of eight lunar tetrads between 2001 and 2100.
April 5th, 2014
A Missouri-based gun manufacturer announced this week that it will release a line of “New York Compliant” rifles, a market-based response to the Empire State’s strict new gun laws.
“With the continual trampling of the 2nd Amendment in New York, Black Rain Ordnance is proud to announce their ‘New York Compliant’ rifles,” the group said in a statement on its website. “These rifles feature all of the quality and craftsmanship of the standard BRO-lines, but with the added features that allow for legal possession.”
Features that make Black Rain Ordnance’s new rifles compliant with New York’s guns laws include: No pistol grip, a non-threaded muzzle fixed stock, 10-round low capacity approved magazine and a Lo-Pro gas block “without the evil bayonet lug.”
“We are proud to be an all American Company that produces true Made in the U.S.A. products,” the company told TheBlaze in an email.
April 4th, 2014
WASHINGTON – Momentum is building behind what would be an unprecedented effort to amend the U.S. Constitution, through a little-known provision that gives states rather than Congress the power to initiate changes.
At issue is what's known as a "constitutional convention," a scenario tucked into Article V of the U.S. Constitution. At its core, Article V provides two ways for amendments to be proposed. The first – which has been used for all 27 amendment to date – requires two-thirds of both the House and Senate to approve a resolution, before sending it to the states for ratification. The Founding Fathers, though, devised an alternative way which says if two-thirds of state legislatures demand a meeting, Congress “shall call a convention for proposing amendments.”
The idea has gained popularity among constitutional scholars in recent years -- but got a big boost last week when Michigan lawmakers endorsed it.
Michigan matters, because by some counts it was the 34th state to do so. That makes two-thirds.
In the wake of the vote, California Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter pressed House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday to determine whether the states just crossed the threshold for this kind of convention. Like Michigan lawmakers, Hunter's interest in the matter stems from a desire to push a balanced-budget amendment -- something that could potentially be done at a constitutional convention.
“Based on several reports and opinions, Michigan might be the 34th state to issue such a call and therefore presents the constitutionally-required number of states to begin the process of achieving a balanced budget amendment,” Hunter wrote.
“With the recent decision by Michigan lawmakers, it is important that the House – and those of us who support a balanced budget amendment -- determine whether the necessary number of states have acted and the appropriate role of Congress should this be the case."
If two-thirds of the states indeed have applied, the ball is presumably in Congress' court to call the convention.
But Article V is rather vague, and it's ultimately unclear whether 34 states have technically applied. In the past, states like Oregon, Utah and Arizona have quietly voted to approve the provision in their legislature.
But some of the 34 or so have rescinded their requests. Others have rescinded, and then re-applied.
Alabama rescinded its request in 1988 but in 2011, lawmakers again applied for a convention related to an amendment requiring that the federal budget be balanced. It was a similar story in Florida in 2010.
Louisiana rescinded in 1990 but lawmakers have tried several times, unsuccessfully, to reinstate the application since then.
It's unclear whether the applications still count in these scenarios.
Some constitutional scholars like Gregory Watson, an analyst in Texas, say once states ask, there may be no take-backs.
“There is a disagreement among scholars as to whether a state that has approved an application may later rescind that application,” Watson told The Washington Times. “If it is ultimately adjudicated that a state may not rescind a prior application, then Ohio’s 2013 application for a Balanced Budget Amendment convention would be the 33rd and Michigan’s 2014 application would be the 34th on that topic.”
Others say if a state changes its mind, it can no longer be part of the 34.
Even if the requisite number of states have applied, questions remain about how such a convention would work -- and whether, as Michigan wants, such a convention could be limited to only discussing a balanced-budget amendment.
It still may be a long shot, but some analysts are warning about the unintended consequences of such a move.
In Louisiana, Budget Project Policy Analyst Steve Spire argued against the state's resolution, saying the convention could permanently damage the nation’s political system.
The last time there was a successful amendment was more than four decades ago – the 26th Amendment which changed the voting age to 18. States ratified the 27th Amendment on congressional pay increases, but it took more than 200 years to do it.
More from Barnini Chakraborty at Fox
April 4th, 2014
Nevada Senator Harry Reid on Obamacare:
"There's plenty of horror stories being told, all of them are untrue, but they're being told all over America"~February, 2014
CBS Las Vegas
By Benjamin Fearnow
Las Vegas (CBS LAS VEGAS) – Just days after the deadline to enroll for insurance coverage through Nevada Health Link, the first class-action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of residents who say they signed up and paid their premiums – but were never given coverage.
Law firm Callister & Associates filed the lawsuit on behalf of Larry Basich, who signed up for state health insurance and paid premiums as far back as November, but then was not covered following a Jan. 3 triple bypass procedure that saw his $400,000 in medical expenses passed between the wrong insurance companies, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court of Nevada on Tuesday alleges gross negligence and failure to do due diligence against the state of Nevada, the Silver State Health Insurance Exchange (which runs Nevada Health Link), and the company that won the contract to build the exchange, Xerox.
Four companies had responded with proposals to build the state’s Obamacare exchange, and Xerox won in what state officials said was a standard process for the national and state governments in reviewing bids fortechnology contracts. Xerox won the bid after receiving the highest-score on a state criteria list ranging from financial stability to comparable contract experience.
The Nevada state government has since given the second-place company, Deloitte Consulting, a $1.5 million contract to fix the Nevada Health Link.
Attorney Matthew Callister told the Review-Journal that about 40 people had called saying they had also paid their insurance premiums but have no coverage. As of last week, the Nevada Health Link had a “pends” list totaling more than 10,500 people still without coverage.
Lea Swartley, who also has received no coverage despite paying premiums, is the co-plaintiff in the lawsuit.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Nevadans who have been paying premiums for 2, 3, 4 months, not receiving any coverage whatsoever,” Callister told KTNV-TV. “I talked to a mom an hour ago who has skin cancer and she can’t go in to have her skin cancer treatment because her doctor says, ‘Who is your carrier?’”
As of Saturday, 40,500 consumers had selected qualified health plans through the exchange. Of those, 24,000 had paid for coverage, the Associated Press reports.
Callister noted that the lawsuit is not an attack on the Affordable Care Act or the state’s insurance exchange.
“This has nothing to do with the ACA. This is 100 percent about Xerox, who won the bid from the state of Nevada to create this exchange. And they’ve failed. They absolutely failed,” Callister told the Review-Journal.
“I just want to get people covered who paid for coverage,” Callister said. “State law said that’s what’s supposed to happen.”
More from CBS Las Vegas
April 3rd, 2014
BY BEN POPKEN
Brown delivered 250 of its workers a pink slip, and it's not accepting any returns. Despite politicians urging UPS to reinstate employees who were fired after walking off a job in protest of the firing of a former co-worker, the delivery company isn't backing down.
"Businesses and unions cannot successfully operate in an environment that allows public officials to arbitrarily choose when employees can break collective bargaining agreements or demand when employers must disregard the terms of agreements, irrespective of the officials’ motivation," said UPS spokesman Steve Gaut.
Several politicians have chimed in to show their support for the fired employees."My message today for UPS is simple: respect your workers," said New York City comptroller Scott Stringer, who oversees city contracts, including the one New York has with UPS. "Nobody should lose their job simply for standing up for their fellow employees, especially at a time when so many New Yorkers are struggling to make ends meet. UPS must come to the table in good faith."
Gaut said the company terminated 20 of the employees at the distribution and sorting facility in Maspeth in the Queens borough of New York after their shifts on Monday, and 230 will be removed from the payrolls once their replacements have been trained.
During the February 26 stoppage, the employees left the job site for 90 minutes before returning to their posts.
"There was a meeting underway with a local union official and a member of management to discuss an employee terminated for infractions related to this time," said Gaut. "During that grievance meeting that union official left and organized an impromptu, illegal, and unauthorized work stoppage."
"We work on a very tight schedule," said Gaut. "This was a serious act of misconduct on the union leader's and the employees' part."
Gaut said the walkout breached its contract with the Teamsters Union Local 804, which has a clause outlining a system for taking care of disputes that doesn't involve stoppages.
Nationally, said Gaut, such walkouts among its workforce of 230,000 are "extremely rare" and when they've occurred in the past the company has either suspended or discharged the employees involved, per their union contract terms.
Representatives from Local 804 could not be reached for comment.
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