Views from the News

Alabama Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriage licences

Alabama’s Supreme Court has ordered the state’s judges to stop issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples. A federal ruling says banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional.

But the court in Alabama has decided that does not preclude state law being followed, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. Last month, a US federal judge ordered an Alabama official to issue marriage licences after a three-day standoff. The all-Republican court in Montgomery sided with two conservative organizations which had appealed a decision by US District Judge Callie Granade who had ruled in January that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

‘As it has done for almost 200 years, the state of Alabama allows for marriage between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licence contrary to this law’, the ruling by the State Supreme Court in Montgomery says.

It is the latest apparent defiance to the US Supreme Court in Washington and it highlights the depth of opposition to same-sex marriages in that socially conservative state.

Assisted Suicide Bill: Nicola Sturgeon unconvinced

The Scottish First Minister has revealed she is not convinced by new legislation to allow assisted suicide. Nicola Sturgeon gave her view on the Assisted Suicide Bill, currently being considered at Holyrood, during an interview with the Scottish Catholic Observer.

The Bill, which is being taken forward by Green MSP Patrick Harvie, would allow those with terminal or life-shortening illnesses to obtain help in ending their suffering. It is the second attempt to legislate for assisted suicide at Holyrood, after the first was defeated by MSPs in a free vote in 2010. Ms Sturgeon said, ‘I voted against it the last time and, although we are not near another vote yet, I haven’t been convinced about assisted suicide this time’.

‘I believe we should support people to live and I am therefore in favour of good quality palliative care. There also remains a major stumbling block to assisted suicide, how could you have sufficient safeguards?’

Her comments were welcomed by those opposing the proposed new laws.

Letter written in Italian by Albert Einstein defending his theory of relativity and referring to ‘God’ as a scientific concept sells for £50,000

The Austrian genius’s 1925 missive to Italian electrical engineer Giovanni Giorgi defends his 1915 theory of relativity in the face of strong criticism.

It also speaks of ‘God’ as a scientific concept, despite Einstein not believing in a deity.

The letter was penned after the scientist faced the criticism of American physicist Dayton Miller who sought to disprove his theory in a series of experiments. Dismissing his findings, Einstein wrote to Giorgi, ‘I agree with your opinion on the fact that the movement of an ether with a [mathematical formula] so high is particularly impossible. God created the world with more intelligence and elegance. You’re right to compare with Miller’s works, the laws of aberration. The theory of Stokes-Planck is very artificial and cannot – in my opinion – explain this law of aberration. I would be very curious to know the real cause of the Miller’s phenomenon. I do not doubt the validity of the theory of relativity’.

Although Einstein was fluent in Italian having lived in Italy with his family in the mid-1890s letters written by him in the language are scarce. A spokesman for RR Auction in Boston, Massachusetts, where the sale was held, said, ‘This magnificent letter is rife with intriguing content – each and every sentence contains a revelatory turn and could be expounded upon at length within the context of Einstein’s life and work.

That it is written in Italian is notable in itself. His family had moved to Italy for a few years in the mid-1890s and, although he was fluent, letters in Italian are seldom seen’.


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