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  • The Worst U.S. Supreme Court Decisions (Part Two) | Britannica.com
    question insisting instead that its only task was to explain how the preamble was consistent with its individual right reading of the operative clause In this undertaking as well as in its interpretation of the operative clause itself the court defied a consensus of historians and constitutional scholars who regarded the right as necessarily connected with the existence of state militias The court also contravened a raft of legal precedents most notably United States v Miller 1939 its last major pronouncement on the meaning of the Second Amendment in which it had unanimously held that a federal law requiring the registration of sawed off shotguns does not violate the Second Amendment because such weapons do not have a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well regulated militia In dissent Justice John Paul Stevens rightly condemned the majority s blatant disregard of both history and precedent The Heller decision applied to a federal law regulating the use of firearms in the District of Columbia Two years later in McDonald v Chicago the court distinguished itself again by holding that its ruling in Heller applied to state and local regulations of handguns as well as to federal laws Citizens United v Federal Election Commission Date 2010 Vote 5 4 Citizens United v Federal Election Commission is notorious for having invalidated a century of campaign finance reform helping to bring about the current hugely corrupt American system in which major candidates and elections are effectively purchased in secret by billionaires The decision is odious and well worthy of inclusion in this list solely for that reason but it also merits mention for having enshrined if not invented a debased view of the First Amendment whereby campaign contributions count as speech for having introduced a bizarrely constricted notion of political corruption as limited to outright bribery and for having been entirely ad hoc The case decided in Citizens United was not originally presented to the court and did not exist in any form until the court invented it The original case arose after a federal district court found in 2008 that Citizens United a conservative nonprofit corporation was not entitled to an injunction against enforcement of the McCain Feingold Act 2002 because of its planned release of Hillary The Movie a documentary hit piece against then New York Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton Citizens United had argued that the act s prohibition of the use of corporate and union general treasury funds as opposed to funds from political action committees PACs for electioneering communications within 60 days of a federal election did not apply to Hillary and that provisions of the act requiring disclosure statements and the identification of sponsors were unconstitutional as applied to the documentary The original case was open and shut as the court frankly explained in its eventual decision The act clearly did apply to Hillary and the relevant provision of the law had been upheld in the Supreme Court s decision in McConnell v Federal Election Commission 2003 and supported in its ruling in Austin v Michigan Chamber of Commerce 1990 But the case did not end there Indeed that s exactly where it began The problem facing the court was that finding in favor of the Federal Election Commission FEC would have left it with no way to affirm its preexisting conviction that this corporation has a constitutional right to speak on this subject Because it could not obtain the result it wanted in the case presented to it the court changed the case It ordered the parties to return in three months with answers to a new question whether the relevant portions of McConnell or Austin should be overturned as infringements of the free speech rights of corporations It eventually answered that question in the affirmative concluding generally that no sufficient governmental interest justifies limits on the political speech of nonprofit or for profit corporations Crucially no anticorruption interest is sufficient it held because the relevant provisions of McCain Feingold concerned expenditures that because they were uncoordinated with political campaigns could not give rise to a direct exchange of favors for money that is to bribery The fact that such expenditures could nevertheless ingratiate candidates to donors and afford donors increased access to and influence over candidates was irrelevant according to the court because ingratiation and access are not corruption Four years later the court affirmed and expanded on that fantastic notion of corruption declaring in McCutcheon v Federal Election Commission 2014 another gem of campaign finance jurisprudence that the purchase of ingratiation and access by wealthy donors is not only not corruption it is a central feature of democracy that constituents support candidates who share their beliefs and interests and candidates who are elected can be expected to be responsive to those concerns This point is worth repeating In the cynical understanding of the Supreme Court since Citizens United democracy just is the purchase of ingratiation access and influence by those with the means to pay for them and democratic representation just is the responsibility of officeholders to be responsive to the concerns of those who finance their campaigns Shelby County v Holder Tom Pennington Getty Images Thinkstock Date 2013 Vote 5 4 In this truly retrograde decision the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act VRA of 1965 thereby clearing the way for several states to adopt laws including voter ID laws explicitly designed to limit voting by ethnic minorities particularly African Americans and other groups including the young and the poor who tend to support Democrats Such measures had long been blocked by provisions of the VRA that required states with a history of voting discrimination and voter suppression mostly in the South to obtain preclearance from the federal Department of Justice before making any changes to their voting laws In Shelby County v Holder the court struck down a formula that the VRA had used to identify which jurisdictions were covered or required to obtain preclearance The

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/editor-picks-the-worst-u.s.-supreme-court-decisions-%28part-two%29 (2016-02-13)
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  • 6 Reasons to Love Cephalopods | Britannica.com
    pry open clamshells They also make time for play In aquariums octopuses have been known to leave their tanks to make mischief or dismantle aquarium equipment Octopuses and cuttlefish have also been trained to navigate mazes In the wild veined octopuses have been observed collecting coconut shells to use as tents 3 They help us to better know ourselves Mike Severns Stone Getty Images For decades scientists have used cephalopod axons the part of a nerve cell that transmits messages away from the cell body for neurological study The axons of Loligo pealeii are big enough to be seen without a microscope and are similar to those found in humans Researchers hope to apply their findings to human diseases and disorders that affect the brain 2 They re so pretty Marineland of Florida Almost all cephalopods change colors They use this skill for mating communication and disguise Sometimes they even change patterns Here s the crazy part though most cephalopods themselves are probably color blind They have special cells called iridophores that act as mirrors and allow them to reflect the colors in their environment As if this weren t enough to disguise themselves some cephalopods use their wobbly bodies to their advantage in taking on different shapes blending in with sandy ocean floors or knobby coral reefs 1 Love them now before they re gone Douglas P Wilson Most cephalopods have short life spans about 1 to 2 years Nautiluses the exception to most cephalopod norms can live up to 15 In general they spawn only once and then die shortly after their offspring are hatched Because cephalopods tend to live for such a short period some species grow rapidly Some increase their body weight by about 10 each day Your Reaction 11 Popular Or Just Plain Odd Presidential

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/6-reasons-to-love-cephalopods (2016-02-13)
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  • Flags That Look Alike | Britannica.com
    the heraldic colors in the shield of the Monegasque princely arms and the flag of Indonesia dates back to its association with the Majapahit empire Also similar to these two is the flag of Poland although its stripes are reversed white over red New Zealand and Australia Encyclopedia Britannica Both flags are based on the British Blue Ensign blue field with a Union Jack in the canton or top inner corner and feature a stylized version of the Southern Cross constellation However they differ in several ways the design of the constellation five white seven pointed stars for Australia four red and white five pointed stars for New Zealand the addition of a sixth larger commonwealth star on the Australian flag and shade differences in the blues and reds Nonetheless the design similarities are one of the reasons why New Zealanders are considering replacing their flag Ireland and Côte d Ivoire Encyclopedia Britannica The two flags are somewhat less alike than those mentioned above but their shared design of green white and orange vertical stripes can be confusing The difference is that the green stripe on the Irish flag is on the hoist side part of the flag closest to the flagpole Norway and Iceland Encyclopedia Brtiannica The flag for each of these countries boasts an identical design but with the colors reversed Both have their origins in the Danish flag with its red field and white Scandinavian Cross The Norwegian flag has a red field with a white bordered blue cross while Iceland s has a blue field with a white bordered red cross Venezuela Ecuador and Colombia Encyclopedia Britannica A flag of unequal yellow blue and red horizontal stripes was adopted by the new country of Gran Colombia in 1822 Although that country dissolved in 1830 the succeeding states of Colombia Ecuador and Venezuela incorporated that flag s tricolor design into their respective flags Those of Columbia and Ecuador retain the larger yellow stripe while that of Venezuela has stripes of equal size The Venezuelan flag is also distinguished by an arc of stars in its center and by the national coat of arms in the upper hoist corner The Ecuadorian flag also depicts the country s coat of arms though in its center Luxembourg and the Netherlands Encyclopedia Britannica The Dutch began using a red white and blue horizontally striped flag in the mid 17th century the red being a substitution for the original orange stripe This flag became the inspiration for the vertically striped French Tricolor after the French Revolution in 1789 Although Luxembourg lies close to the Netherlands its flag was not derived from the Dutch flag but was developed independently Luxembourg s flag differs from the Dutch in being slightly longer and using a different shade of blue Slovenia Russia and Slovakia Encyclopedia Britannica The white blue red horizontally striped Russian flag dates to the end of the 17th century and was modeled on the Dutch tricolor It in turn inspired the flag design

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/flags-that-look-alike (2016-02-13)
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  • The Canadian Football League: 10 Claims to Fame | Britannica.com
    But the CFL whose marketing motto is This is our league is fiercely determined to keep its Canadian character and there have long been rules regarding the proportional presence of U S players on CFL teams As of 2015 20 of the 42 players on CFL rosters had to be Canadian or the progeny of Canadians What s more 7 of 24 starters remember 12 a side had to be Canadian And the CFL has had plenty of homegrown heroes not least quarterbacks Sam Etcheverry Ron Lancaster and Russ Jackson 5 The Great Warren Moon s bukley Shutterstock com In addition to American stars such as George Reed and Jackie Parker who spent their whole careers in Canada more than a few U S players got their start in the CFL before going on to NFL stardom among them Joe Kapp Raghib Rocket Ismail Jeff Garcia and Joe Thiesmann Most notably in 1978 at a time when African Americans rarely were given a chance to quarterback NFL teams Warren Moon went from the University of Washington to lead the Edmonton Eskimos to five consecutive Grey Cup wins before racking up nearly 50 000 yards passing in the NFL mostly with the Houston Oilers and the Minnesota Vikings Moon ended up in the pro football Hall of Fame in both countries and at number five on TSN s list of all time greatest CFL players 4 Doug Flutie Stands Tall Before Doug Flutie topped that TSN list he struggled in his first stint in the NFL 1985 89 His rival as the starting quarterback for the Chicago Bears Jim McMahon derisively nicknamed him America s Midget Flutie stood just under 5 feet 10 inches 1 78 metres tall but once Flutie got to Canada he stood very tall In eight years in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions Calgary Stampeders and Toronto Argonauts Flutie won the league s most outstanding player award three times was the Grey Cup MVP three times and got to play with his brother Darren who made the TSN list as a receiver 3 Two Teams with the Same Name Scott Prokop Shutterstock com For more than three decades the eight or nine team CFL had two teams with essentially the same name the Ottawa Rough Riders two words and the Saskatchewan Roughriders one word neither of which had anything to do with the Cuban exploits of Theodore Roosevelt s Rough Riders The Ottawa team name honored the Ontario lumber industry s logrollers and the Saskatchewan version came about because the team shared its home base Regina Saskatchewan with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police training academy That the two teams came into the CFL with the same name was reflective of the divide that had long existed between football in eastern and western Canada When Ottawa got a new franchise in 2013 after the Rough Riders folded in 1996 Saskatchewan refused to share anymore and the new Ottawa team took the name Redblacks 2 The Fog

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/the-canadian-football-league-10-claims-to-fame (2016-02-13)
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  • 6 Amazing Facts About Gravitational Waves and LIGO | Britannica.com
    off in gravitational waves 4 The Effect of Gravitational Waves Is Very Very Small Since gravitational waves are a ripple in space time they cause the distance between two points to change ever so slightly How slightly LIGO must be able to measure distances as small as 10 19 meter The proton has a radius of about 0 85 10 15 meter or 10 000 times larger 3 Measuring Gravitational Waves Is Tricky To detect a change in distance much smaller than the proton requires great precision Each LIGO installation is a laser interferometer made up of two underground pipes each 1 3 meters 4 3 feet wide and 4 km 2 5 miles long set in an L shape The inside of the pipes is a vacuum When a gravitational wave passes through LIGO one arm of the instrument gets longer and the other gets shorter A laser beam is split in half sent down the two pipes reflected back and then recombined so the two beams cancel each other out in destructive interference if there is no gravitational wave If there is a gravitational wave the beams won t cancel each other out A 4 km long beam is still not enough to detect a gravitational wave so the beams are bounced back and forth about 400 times so the light travels a distance of 1 600 km 1 000 miles 2 LIGO Is Very Sensitive LIGO detects such a small change in distance that it can detect a lot of other vibrations too For example the speed limit at LIGO is 16 km 10 miles per hour to minimize vibrations from nearby cars One source of noise is gravity gradient noise which is the minute change in Earth s gravitational field when a vibration passes through the ground near the mirrors The mirrors that reflect the light weigh 40 kg 88 pounds and hang by silica fibers in a complex suspension system To make sure that LIGO does detect gravitational waves and not just passing cars there are two LIGO installations one in Livingston Louisiana and the other in Hanford Washington A gravitational wave would show up at both installations 1 Gravitational Wave Astronomy Can See an Entirely New Side of the Universe If supermassive black holes black holes one million times more massive than the Sun merged in a distant galaxy LIGO could observe it Scientists also expect that if a neutron star is slightly nonspherical the gravitational waves could be observed and thus reveal much about the star s structure Every time astronomers have been able to look at the universe in a new way they ve always observed something unexpected and gravitational wave astronomy will likely show something not yet thought of Your Reaction 7 of the World s Most Poisonous Mushrooms Botanical Barbarity 9 Plant Defense Mechanisms MORE Technology LISTS 6 Signs It s Already the Future 10 Inventions That Changed Your World Bad Words 8 Banned Books Through Time View All Comments

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/6-amazing-facts-about-gravitational-waves-and-ligo (2016-02-13)
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  • Working Like a Dog: 7 Animals with Jobs | Britannica.com
    to train the rats and like all workers they get paid for a job well done with food often bananas 5 Dogs on the Job U S Army Dogs impeccable sense of smell is well known making canines ideal for locating bombs and drugs However they are also able to smell cancer low blood sugar and even depression In addition dogs are sometimes employed to alert their owners to upcoming epileptic seizures though researchers are uncertain if seizure dogs are responding to smells or subtle behavioral changes Regardless of how they are able to do it dogs prove that they really are man s best friend 4 Canary in a Coal Mine Coal mines have long been dangerous places Mine collapses are common and carbon monoxide is a silent killer In the early 20th century John Scott Haldane noted that the toxic gas was often the cause of miners deaths and he offered a simple solution canaries These tiny birds show the effects of carbon monoxide early enough that miners have time to reach safety The practice of carrying canaries into coal mines continued into the 1980s 3 Horsing Around Michael Andersen Although dogs might be better known as guide animals miniature horses are gaining popularity in this field In fact in 2011 the Americans with Disabilities Act was revised to approve them as service animals Why Not only do miniature horses possess a natural ability to guide they have a calm nature and are not easily distracted They are also perfect for those humans who are allergic to dogs Miniature horses can live more than 50 years whereas service dogs are often retired after age 10 2 Monkey Business For people with mobility impairments especially ones due to spinal cord injuries monkeys can offer a helping hand These animals can be trained to perform a variety of daily tasks turning appliances on and off picking up dropped items dialing the phone and even scratching an itch Typically only capuchin moneys are used and the training generally lasts three to five years Although this might seem like a long time the animals can live for 30 to 40 years meaning that most people will need only one or two in their lifetime 1 Chief Mouser Her Majesty s Government The British prime minister s residence 10 Downing Street needs more than just security guards to keep it safe In order to protect the building from mice and other rodents a cat is appointed Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office Although the title has only recently become official British officials have long kept cats in this capacity with the first mouser dating back to the 1500s during the reign of Henry VIII As of 2015 a cat named Larry held the title Your Reaction 5 Surprising Facts About Bats 9 of the World s Deadliest Spiders MORE Animals LISTS A Dose of Dolphin Induced Dopamine 8 Species of Adorable Cetacean 8 Birds That Can t Fly 7 More Domestic Animals and

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/working-like-a-dog-7-animals-with-jobs (2016-02-13)
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  • 6 Fictional Languages You Can Really Learn | Britannica.com
    a few dozen words of Lapine appear in the text fans have since developed the language into a functional one with distinct grammar and vocabulary Os e layth Frithyeer hyaones on layth zayn yayn dahloil If it s sunny today we ll go and find dandelions 4 Na vi Avatar Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation The Kobal Collection For his 2009 blockbuster film Avatar director James Cameron wanted his alien race the Na vi to be a fully developed concept complete with their own working language He enlisted the help of linguist Paul Frommer who created an extensive vocabulary and grammar for the giant blue beings Fans quickly caught on and with help from Frommer continued to develop the language Fayvrrtep fìtsenge lu kxanì Fìpoti oel tspìyang fte tìkenong liyevu aylaru These demons are forbidden here I will kill this one as a lesson to the others 3 Dothraki Game of Thrones A Song of Ice and Fire George R R Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire book series established the nomadic horse rearing Dothraki people In the books Martin included very few words of the Dothraki language but for the HBO television series David Peterson of the Language Creation Society was hired to turn those words into a complete lexicon As the Dothraki people s lives depend first and foremost on their horses Peterson created the language to reflect this close relationship with horse riding and rearing Dothraki is frequently spoken by actors on the show and many fans are learning too Hash yer dothrae chek asshekh How are you today Do you ride well today 2 Klingon Star Trek Klingon is one of the most well known fictional languages It was created by linguist Marc Okrand as the language of the warrior Klingon race on the television show Star Trek Okrand published several books about the language and an organization known as the Klingon Language Institute has a quarterly journal dedicated to it Fans use the language to conduct marriage ceremonies and to write songs and there has even been an adaptation of Shakespeare s Hamlet published in Klingon While Klingon does have its own alphabet the language is usually transliterated into English nuqDaq oH puchpa e Where is the bathroom 1 Elvish The works of J R R Tolkien AP Wide World Photos J R R Tolkien a philologist and lexicographer began creating his Elvish languages before he started on any of his well known works such as The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy There are actually two forms of Elvish commonly learned by fans Quenya or high Elvish and Sindarin both based loosely on Finnish and Welsh two languages Tolkien himself studied And these can be subdivided into different dialects There are even different forms of Elvish script one of which you may have seen on the One Ring featured in The Lord of the Rings films Elen síla lumenn omentielvo A star shines onthe hour of our meeting Your

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/6-fictional-languages-you-can-really-learn (2016-02-13)
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  • 5 Notorious Greenhouse Gases | Britannica.com
    the lower atmosphere capable of absorbing infrared radiation and emitting it downward 4 Carbon dioxide Sergiy Serdyuk Fotolia Of the greenhouse gases carbon dioxide CO 2 is the most prominent Sources of atmospheric CO 2 include volcanoes the combustion and decay of organic matter respiration by aerobic oxygen using organisms and the burning of fossil fuels clearing of land and production of cement by humans These sources are balanced on average by a set of physical chemical or biological processes called sinks that tend to remove CO 2 from the atmosphere Plant life which takes up CO 2 during the process of photosynthesis is an important natural sink In the oceans marine life can absorb dissolved CO 2 and some marine organisms even use CO 2 to build skeletons and other structures made of calcium carbonate CaCO 3 3 Methane Photos com Jupiterimages Methane CH 4 is the second most important greenhouse gas It is more potent than CO 2 but exists in far lower concentrations in the atmosphere CH 4 also hangs around in the atmosphere for a shorter time than CO 2 the residence time for CH 4 is roughly 10 years compared with hundreds of years for CO 2 Natural sources of methane include many wetlands methane oxidizing bacteria that feed on organic material consumed by termites volcanoes seepage vents of the seafloor in regions rich with organic sediment and methane hydrates trapped along the continental shelves of the oceans and in polar permafrost The primary natural sink for methane is the atmosphere itself another natural sink is soil where methane is oxidized by bacteria As with CO 2 human activity is increasing the CH 4 concentration faster than it can be offset by natural sinks Human sources rice cultivation livestock farming the burning of coal and natural gas biomass combustion and decomposition in landfills currently account for approximately 70 percent of total annual emissions leading to substantial increases in concentration over time 2 Surface level ozone Johnny Stockshooter age fotostock Imagestate The next most significant greenhouse gas is surface or low level ozone O 3 Surface O 3 is a result of air pollution it must be distinguished from naturally occurring stratospheric O 3 which has a very different role in the planetary radiation balance The primary natural source of surface O 3 is the subsidence of stratospheric O 3 from the upper atmosphere toward Earth s surface In contrast the primary human driven source of surface O 3 is in photochemical reactions involving carbon monoxide CO such as in smog 1 Nitrous oxides and fluorinated gases Mikael Damkier Shutterstock com Additional trace gases produced by industrial activity that have greenhouse properties include nitrous oxide N 2 O and fluorinated gases halocarbons The latter includes sulfur hexafluoride hydrofluorocarbons HFCs and perfluorocarbons PFCs Nitrous oxides have small background concentrations due to natural biological reactions in soil and water whereas the fluorinated gases owe their existence almost entirely to industrial sources Your Reaction A Model of the Cosmos

    Original URL path: http://www.britannica.com/list/5-notorious-greenhouse-gases (2016-02-13)
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