• Dozens of German priests plan to give the Vatican the virtual middle finger

    In defiance of a Vatican decree stating that the Catholic church cannot bless same-sex marriages, dozens of Catholic priests in Germany will be live-streaming the blessings of several such marriages. When the decree was first announced back in March, over 230 professors of Catholic theology in Germany and other German-speaking countries signed a statement protesting the decision. A group of said priests have also compiled a list of church services that will take place around May 10.

    "In view of the refusal of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to bless homosexual partnerships, we raise our voices and say: We will continue to accompany people who enter into a binding partnership in the future and bless their relationship," the group said in a statement.

    via CBS

    St. Marien-Kirche (or, St. Mary's Church) in Berlin said they would be hanging a banner over the church's main entrance: "You love each other? We bless you!"

    "This is how it should be: We would like to celebrate and bless the gift of love with everyone 'who love each other,' all couples, friendships, love relationships. All who reflect the colorfulness of God's love in their lives!" the church said in the description for their event, which will be held on May 9.

    via CBS

    While the Vatican claims gay people must be treated with respect and dignity, gay sex is considered "intrinsically disordered", and says that same-sex marriage is a sin, because God "does not and cannot bless sin."

    "Stop signs from Rome don't help," said [Central Committee of German Catholics member Birgit] Mock. "On the contrary: We need an honest theological discussion; we have to — finally — recognize as a church that sexuality is part of life. And not only in the marriage as man and woman, but in all loyal, dignified and respectful love relationships. Everything else is no longer up to date. And also does not correspond to our image of God."

    "We can trust that God loves us as we are created. And that he has long been 'there' in love relationships," Mock said.

    via CBS
  • Watch: A heroic laundry brawl

    With an almost impressively small team of editors, animators, and sound designers, "The Shiny" is suspenseful, inventive, and a little sexy (if you're into invisible men).

    A damsel in distress gets undressed when a man from the mid west puts to rest a world that's obsessed with the priceless, also know as, "The Shiny."

    via Daniel Cloud Campos
  • Lobster rescued from Virginia Red Lobster

    Employees at a Red Lobster in Manasses, VA recognized the unique coloring on a certain crustacean delivered to their restaurant and made the decision to call their support team before he became someone's dinner.

    The orange and black freckled lobster, dubbed Freckles by employees, arrived with the restaurant's regular shipment of Maine lobster on April 25. Calicos are among the rarest lobsters on Earth: only albino and split-colored lobsters are moreso. The chances of catching a lobster like Freckles is 1 in 30,000,000, according to a Red Lobster spokesperson.

    "Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare, it was almost unbelievable that we received one," a Red Lobster spokesperson told CNN. "We are so proud of our employees for recognizing that Freckles was so special — and for reaching out so we could make arrangements for rescue."

    "Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare because their coloring makes them very visible and thus vulnerable to predators," the Red Lobster spokesperson said. "Because a calico-colored lobster is so rare and vulnerable in the wild, it was important that we found him a good home versus setting him free in the wild where he likely would not survive."

    via CNN

    Freckles has found a new, safe, predator-free home at the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News, VA. After being picked up on April 29, Freckles was given a veterinary evaluation and will kept in quarantine for 30 days to make sure he's still healthy. After that, he'll join the other aquatic animals in the museum.

    "We see this as an opportunity to share nature's anomaly with guests, as well as continue important education about sustainable seafood practices and significant conservation," Chris Crippen, the museum's senior director of Animal Welfare and Conservation, said in a statement.

    via CNN
  • Archaeologists unearth 2000-year-old marble head of Augustus Caesar

    The 2,000-year-old head of Rome's first emperor, Augustus Caesar, was recently uncovered by archaeologists in Isernia, Italy. Francesco Giancola made the remarkable discovery during restoration on a medieval wall that collapsed in 2013.

    "While we were digging behind the wall, I saw that the earth changed color," he said.

    "So we continued digging with precision trowels and a block of marble has come out. I immediately saw that it was a head that I recognized as belonging to a statue of Augustus due to the hair and the shape and cut of the eyes."

    Giancola said he immediately called the authorities, the mayor, and the cultural heritage ministry.

    via CNN

    According to Maria Diletta Colombo, an archaeologist at the regional department of the ministry, the 35-centimeter-tall head can be dated back to between 20 BC and 10 AD.

    "It was an important statue, but we do not know why it was here," she told CNN. "It could have been placed in a temple dedicated to the cult of the imperial family, or in the forum. But these are just hypotheses, since we don't know where the forum was."

    Some of her colleagues cried with joy when they made the discovery, Colombo added, and it was a moment she said she will remember forever.

    via CNN

    The head was mostly likely originally attached to a statue that would have been over 2 meters tall and made of Lunigiana marble, the same kind used by Michelangelo, and depicts Augustus as a young man.

    Isernia, where the head was found, was originally called Aesernia and home to an Italic people called the Samnites. Later, it became a Roman colony before being partially destroyed during (then rebuilt after) World War II.

    Along with the head, the excavation also revealed empty tombs and artifacts. The head is currently being studied, but both Colombo and the mayor of Isernia want it to stay in the town's museum, Santa Maria delle Monache.

    "Isernia has a very ancient history… there are archaeological remains underneath the whole city," the town's mayor Giacomo D'Apollonio told CNN. "It is a very important find for Isernia because it demonstrates the presence of buildings of a certain importance."

    "Even Isernia, although it is not among the main tourist destinations, is an area rich in history since the Palaeolithic [era]," said D'Apollonio.

    via CNN
  • The making of Teeny Little Super Guy

    Originally filmed in the 1980s, director Paul Fierlinger and his team of animators present the process of creating Sesame Street's Teeny Little Super Guy.

    This video gives a little background on the making of Teeny Little Super Guy. A number of these were filmed back in the early 1980's for Sesame Street under the direction of Paul Fierlinger. It was a lot of fun making them. Some more background information. Everything was shot outside of Philadelphia in either Paul's animation studio or his house. In 1980 Paul was a Academy Award Nominee for best animated short, Its So Nice To Have A Wolf Around The House. Larry Gold is a classical cellist and composer and created all the music. Stuart Horn was a wizz with words and lyrics. Jim Thurman did all the voices, often adlibbing. The Bolex we used had a motor drive so the exposures were about 1/6 of a second. That gave us the ability to shoot at a lower f stop and therefore had scenes with better focus. Although, the segments I show here are copies of copies and not as clear as the should be. Another thing I did not mention was something we used in almost every scene was Stick-Um candle adhesive. It is a sticky wax that is used to hold candles in their candlesticks, but can also be used to hold plastic cups at funny angles. Edith Zornow was from Children's Television Workshop and was what I guess would be considered the executive producer.

    via circusitch
  • Influencer deported from Bali after wearing fake painted mask in "prank"

    You might have seen the viral video of Russian influencer Leia Se (and her companion Josh Paler Lin) blatantly disregarding mask-wearing rules in a supermarket in Bali, and just generally being plague rats during a global pandemic.

    In the video, Se "forgets" to bring a mask to a grocery store. When they aren't allowed inside, Lin takes her back to their car, where they paint a "mask" onto Se's face. They then reenter the grocery store, flagrantly disregard the safety of themselves and others, and leave the store feeling very good about how stupid they've been.

    While first-time violators of Bali's mask mandates usually face a fine of $89, police informed courts in Bali that the couple should be deported immediately. According to authorities (and the couple's own social media accounts), Lin and Se had recorded two other videos of them violating health and safety protocols. Because Lin was wearing a face mask during the "prank", he escaped deportation. Se, however, was ejected from Bali on May 5.

    The couple posted an apology video on Lin's instagram page (surrounded by lawyers and wearing face masks).

  • Visit Bob Dole's 1996 campaign website

    Having not been touched since November 1996, Bob Dole's presidential campaign website is still up and (mostly) running. It sort of feels like exploring an old, empty elementary school; as if your cursor should make a hollow, echoing sound as is travels across the screen. You can read (but certainly not listen to) such thrilling notations as Dole officially announcing his run for the presidency, or Jack Kemp's acceptance speech upon being nominated for Vice President. You can also knock on the empty door of Dole and Kemp's "Get Involved" link, and receive no answer.

    Be thrilled by the single, lonely gif of a steaming cup of coffee; fail to interact with what used to be an "Interactive Map" of Dole & Kemp's long-dead campaign trail; lounge in the eerie silence of a failed politician's dead dream.

    Spooky, sad, and disconcerting in a way that I can't quite put into human words, visiting the corpse of a long lost election only take a few minutes of your time, and will surely leave you feeling like you need a little virtual chemical bath.

  • Chinese man crosses Taiwan Strait in rubber dinghy

    In search of "freedom and democracy", a Chinese man (currently referred to only by his surname, Zhou) crossed the highly-militarized Taiwan Strait in a small rubber dinghy. Zhou was spotted off of China's eastern coast late on April 30 after crossing the nearly-50-mile span from Fujian province. His dinghy was fitted with an outboard motor and carried 90 liters of fuel.

    Zhou is currently being held in quarantine while police investigate his story and ensure he's not a fugitive from the law. Police also say that Zhou is being investigated for potentially violating Taiwanese national security and immigration laws.

    Patrolled by both Chinese and Taiwanese navies, the Taiwan Strait is one of the most militarized strips of water in the world. In a recent assessment by the US Defense Department, China alone hosts more than 255 Coast Guard ships along with dozens of other heavily-armed naval vessels.

    Taiwan isn't a member of the United Nations, and therefore isn't bound by the Refugee Convention, meaning the island doesn't allow people to officially claim asylum, and those who enter the country illegally could face up to 3 years in prison and a fine of 90,000 New Taiwan dollars (or about $3,200).

    Tensions have been growing between mainland China and Taiwan, with China stepping up naval and air drills around the island.

    In an interview last week, Taiwan's foreign minister, Joseph Wu said:

    … China was "preparing for its final military assault" on the island, vowing to "defend ourselves to the very end."

    "Taiwan happens to be on the frontline of China's expansion of its authoritarian order," Wu said. "And if Taiwan is taken by China, I think the consequences will be global."

    via CNN
  • Voguing in protestation

    Along with thousands of other Colombians, this group of trans and non-binary artists hit the streets to protest the country's most recent set of controversial tax reform proposals. While others marched, chanted, and caused some general ruckus for local authorities, members of Colombia's LGBTQ community took a more unconventional approach to civil disobedience.

  • Gay Cuban character recast with actually gay, actually Cuban voice actor

    As America's longest-running animated series, the Simpsons has obviously gone through a few changes since its debut in 1989. The most recent of these changes comes in the form of the recasting of Marge's hairdresser, Julio. Originally voiced by Hank Azaria (who has also voiced Lou, Apu, Bumblebee Man, Moe, and several others), Julio will soon be voiced by Tony Rodriguez.

    You'll know Tony from his appearances on The Late Late Show with James Corden, as well as his appearances on the British soap opera, Eastenders. He made his debut on the Simpsons this past March in the episode Uncut Femmes.

    "In the past two years, I have seen myself more in the show, and by that, I mean specifically the part of Julio, who is gay like me, he's Cuban like me," he exclaimed.

    "Thank you for your time. For me to voice a character in The Simpsons would be very… aspirational," he said.

    via Gay Times
  • Revenge porn to be punishable by up to 6 years in prison

    Legislation was recently passed by the Mexican Congress to combat the publication and subsequent spread of revenge porn — sexual videos, audios, or pictures released without the consent of the people involved in the acts. The legislation states that those charged with distributing revenge porn could face up to 6 years in prison, and it passed with a staggering vote of 446 – 1. The initiative now heads to President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to be signed into law.

    A vast majority of Mexico's regional legislatures have passed their own strictures against the publication of revenge porn, but this law could prove to be the final nail in the proverbial coffin. This collection of legal measures is known informally as the "Ley Olimpia" or the Olimpia Law, named after Olimpia Coral Melo, a young woman who has been fighting to criminalize revenge porn since a video of her engaging in sexual acts was posted online in 2013.

  • Father arrested while testifying against anti-trans health ban in Arkansas

    Chris Attig was arrested while testifying against HB 1570 in the Arkansas House on March 9. When their speech went 30 seconds over the allotted two minutes, Attig's mic was cut, and police escorted them from the building. Attig says they stayed in jail for several hours before being released, and that they face a charge of disorderly conduct.

    Meanwhile, representatives from anti-LGBT hate groups (including the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Freedom Research Council) spent over 40 minutes making their case.

    Nico Lang first reported the case at them.us.

    "It was just shocking sitting there in jail thinking that this is what happens when you speak to people about how their proposed laws are affecting your children," Attig tells them. "They don't want to hear it. They put you in jail."

    Attig spoke to defend the rights of people like his own 22-year-old son, who needed gender-affirming medical care during their transition. The bill in question — the "Arkansas Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act" — would ban any form of gender-affirming care from being given or even offered to transgender youth, including hormone therapy, puberty blockers, and surgery (which isn't even performed on minors in the first place).

    Attig began their testimony by speaking directly to transgender youth, saying, "No matter what happens here today, you are loved. You are loved." But despite their own words, Attig worries that bills like HB 1570 send the message that transgender people are less-than, that attacking them based on who they are is permissible.

    "Whether or not these laws are targeted at somebody above or below the age of 18, the singular message that they send is it is OK to bully and persecute people who are trans," Attig adds. "It says, 'The legislature is doing it, why can't I?'"

    While the bill was initially vetoed by Governor Asa Hutchinson, the state legislator eventually overrode the veto, and now trans youth and their families are left to wonder, "What now?" Some are planning to move to other states, others are willing to get hormones on the black market. Dr. Michele Hutchison says she knows of at least 4 young trans people who have seriously contemplated suicide since the bill's passage. From LGBTQ Nation's reportage:

    "My families are in a state of panic, asking what state should they move to, saying their child is threatening to kill themselves," Dr. Michele Hutchison said. "They want to know what they should do next and we don't have a clear answer for them."

    "They're going to find a way to get them, and it's going to be dangerous because they won't be monitored for side effects," she said.

    Dr. Stephanie Ho echoed Dr. Hutchison's sentiment:

    "You're basically kicking these people when they're down," Dr. Stephanie Ho said. She has cared for about a dozen trans teens in the past. "They have very little resources to begin with and now you're going to make them choose between rent and their child's life."

    The bill goes into effect in July.

  • Creepy-crawlies need your love and attention, too

    Everybody loves watching puppies experience snow for the first time, or watching a kitten try to drink milk on its own, or even the unlikely friendships formed between a camel and a cow. But what about your friendly neighborhood jumping spider? Or maybe a golden target tortoise beetle? If you prefer your four-legged friends more six- or eight-legged (or 300-legged?), prepare yourself for r/awwnverts, Reddit's home for unconventionally cute critters.

    While it might not be the best place to get advice on keeping your own exoskeletal friend, it's definitely a good place to share them if you have them, and maybe explore the idea of adopting your own family of hermit crabs. A surprising (to me, at least) number of posts come not from people who've stumbled on neat little creatures in the wild, but from people who own and breed things like isopods, millipedes, and crayfish.

    That's not to say that some people don't just post pictures of their favorite invertebrates like some kind of chitinous dream-board.

    This fella ended up being a Lytta magister blister beetle, according to u/UPotatoe1012.

    Some of the content can be a little upsetting if you're not into things like tailless whip scorpions or hissing cockroaches, but if you're willing to expand your horizons a bit, you'll discover a whole new world of things that make you go, "Aww, look at all 300 of his little legs go!"

  • Supreme Court to weigh whether 2nd Amendment gives citizens right to carry guns in public

    The Supreme Court agreed to hear a major gun-rights claim on Monday. The decision they make could change whether or not the 2nd Amendment gives citizens the right to carry loaded firearms when they leave home, regardless of local laws.

    The laws currently at issue rest mostly in places like California and New York, where concealed carry permits require that gun owns prove they have a "special need" or "good cause" to be armed. These permits are rarely granted.

    "The time has come for this court to… reaffirm the citizens' fundamental right to carry a handgun for self-defense," Washington attorney Paul D. Clement said in his appeal on behalf of the New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn.

    via LA Times

    The case could prove to be one of the most significant tests of the 2nd Amendment in the past decade. Gun bans have cropped up in past, like one in Washington, DC that was knocked down in 2008 after the court ruled that owning a gun for self-defense was a constitutional right. A similar ban was thrown out of Chicago in 2010. Appeals to reconsider gun laws have been turned away for the most part since—even measures that put limits on who could obtain license to carry guns in public. The three newest justices, appointed by Trump, have made it clear that they favor stronger gun-rights protections.

    In California, gun owners can apply for a concealed-carry permit with local law enforcement, but they'll only get the permit if a sheriff or police chief deems the applicant as having "good moral character" and has "good cause" to carry a loaded gun. The LAPD says, "good cause exists if there is convincing evidence of a clear and present danger to life or of bodily harm" to the applicants or their families.

    "Because of the restrictive practices in some California cities and counties, the most recent data show that there are only 120,582 concealed carry license holders in all of California. That is a mere 0.39% of the adult population of California," the court was told by several law enforcement groups, including the California Sheriffs Assn.

    via LA Times

    Only about 1.2% of adults in New York hold concealed-carry permits, while states like Pennsylvania and Alabama—which practice "shall issue" policies—are at 14% and 28% respectively (with Alabama having the highest percentage in the nation).

    The New York case began when Robert Nash and Brandon Koch, who live near Albany, applied for a concealed carry permit. Nash cited "a string of recent robberies in his neighborhood." But both were turned down because they "did not demonstrate a special need for self-defense that distinguished [them] from the general public."

    via LA Times

    Nash and Koch, along with the state rifle association, sued, claiming their 2nd Amendment rights had been violated. They lost the case before a federal judge and the 2nd Circuit Court which said that the state could restrict who carries a concealed weapon in public.

    The court will hear arguments for the New York State Rifle & Pistol Assn. vs. Corlett case in the fall.