Nelson Mandela Dies at Age 95… And Other News

Nelson Mandela

Former South African President Nelson Mandela died Thursday at age 95.

Best known for leading South Africa’s transition from white-minority rule in the 1990s after spending 27 years in a tuberculosis-ridden prison, Mandela finally succumbed to his recurring lung infection – most likely a result of the lingering tuberculosis he caught in prison. Friends, family and …military personnel (?) gathered at the anti-Apartheid leader’s deathbed in his Johannesburg home where he had been receiving home-based medical care after spending three months in the hospital. South Africa’s current president, Jacob Zuma, confirmed in a statement on South African national TV that Mandela had “departed” and was at peace. But enough about South Africa, what does President Obama have to say about all this? “He no longer belongs to us – he belongs to the ages,” Obama said in a brief statement, adding that Mandela “took history in his hands and bent the arc of the moral universe towards justice”. BBC News

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth CuccinelliKen Cuccinelli, best known for his war on oral sex and his recent loss in Virginia’s gubernatorial election, is trying to kill gay marriage with extra paper work. After getting advice from Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s office, the Virginia Department of Taxation decided that they will not adhere to Internal Revenue Service law on recognizing same-sex couples married elsewhere due to the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. So basically gay married couples can file their federal taxes as married coupes but will still be treated as singles by Virginia state tax officials. The Virginia chapter of the ACLU is up in arms about the decision accusing state officials of “ongoing hostility toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Virginians, including legally married same-sex couples.” Even the business sector is pissed because of the “human resources nightmare” that will occur if federal and state taxes and deductibles are calculated in different ways. But at least Ken Cuccinelli is happy – more paperwork means less time for oral sex. Washington Post

Thai KingKing Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has a special birthday wish this year: stop the violence and support each other. While he didn’t make any direct references, I’m pretty sure he was talking about the thousand of protesters trying to bring down the government of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. Despite getting the thumbs up from Thailand’s parliament to keep her government going, protesters have amped up their demonstrations against Yingluck, the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former prime minister, who fled in 2008 before being convicted of abuse of power. Although initially refusing to resign, escalating violence between demonstrators and security forces may have changed her tune. Yingluck is now saying that she is willing to do “anything” to stop the protests. Anything..? Luckily she has a bit of time to think it over as the two sides have reached a truce to celebrate the king’s birthday. But according to Opposition leader Suthep Thaugsuban, come Friday the protestors will continue their scheme to overthrow the “Thaksin regime.” Al Jazeera

Wally and his HusbandThe weather was warm, but the welcome… not so much. Newly chosen U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, James “Wally” Brewster, arrived in Santo Domingo last week amid protests from Catholic and evangelical Christian leaders. The God-fearing protesters deemed Ambassador Wally’s appointment an insult to the Caribbean nation because he is openly gay. Not just gay – but openly gay. Wally, who brought along his husband, seemed pretty happy to “return to the beauty of the Dominican Republic” but the church-going locals see it as a U.S. ploy to “impose on us marriage between gays and lesbians as well as adoption by these couples.” Maybe they should concentrate more on not being a third world country and less on gay conspiracy theories. The Guardian

Ukraine ProtestsUkrainian protesters are being total Nazis! After pro-Europe demonstrators in the Ukraine took to the streets, calling for the ouster of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and raging against President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to abandon a deal for closer ties with the European Union, the prime minister denounced them as “Nazis and criminals.” Yanukovych has said the EU deal would cause Ukraine to break ties with Russia and he just can’t live without his precious Putin. But the rest of the Ukraine doesn’t feel the same way. The deal remains pretty popular throughout the country, especially in the western regions. How popular? So popular that demonstrators are willing to face the “harsh” crackdown Ukrainian police have promised in order to continue their protests. Reuters

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