Tag Archives: new year’s day

New laws ban tiger selfies, among other oddities

New state laws taking effect Jan. 1 give livestock in California more living room, approve direct-to-consumer wine shipments in Massachusetts and levy the ultimate punishment on wannabe teen drivers in Nevada by denying them licenses if they skip too much school.

Other laws will allow Louisiana teens as young as 16 to register to vote, crack down on meth dealers in Michigan, end tax breaks for Hollywood in North Carolina and raise the minimum wage in Ohio, New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere.

Although it doesn’t take effect until early February, a New York law captures this year’s “Who knew?” prize by banning tiger selfies, which have been used by young men as profile photos on social media sites.

A look at some of the new laws taking effect Jan. 1, in alphabetical order by topic:

ALCOHOL

Wine connoisseurs will be popping the cork over a new law taking effect Thursday that allows out-of-state wineries to ship bottles directly to consumers in Massachusetts. The drive for direct wine shipments had been stalled for years before getting a big boost from former New England Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Now a winemaker in Washington state, Bledsoe complained to lawmakers he could not send his products to Massachusetts residents, including fans and former teammates like current Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

ANIMALS

In California, a ballot initiative approved by voters in 2008 takes effect restricting the confinement of egg-laying hens, breeding sows and veal calves. The Humane Society of the United States says the law goes further than any in the country when coupled with a law signed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that extends the space requirements for egg-laying hens to out-of-state suppliers.

In Utah, cities and towns can no longer ban specific dog breeds within their limits. At least 10 cities now have restrictions that ban ownership of breeds such as pit bulls.

CRIME

In California, a “yes means yes” standard for sex between college students takes effect, requiring “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” meaning silence or a lack of resistance can no longer be deemed consent.

In Michigan, rape evidence may be better organized and tracked under laws designed to help ensure kits aren’t caught in the sort of backlog found when more than 11,000 untested boxes were discovered in a Detroit Police storage facility in 2009.

In Louisiana, law enforcement agencies must provide a tally of the number of untested rape kits on their shelves by Thursday, part of a law that took effect in August.

DRUG ABUSE

In Michigan, buying cough and cold medicines for the purpose of making methamphetamine will be illegal under another series of measures intended to crack down on meth makers. The laws also prohibit asking someone to buy the ingredients and require state police to add meth offenders to a national database.

ELECTIONS

In Louisiana, 16- and 17-year-olds will be able to register to vote when obtaining a driver’s license, though they still won’t be able to vote until they turn 18.

In North Carolina, individuals filing as a candidate in a party primary must have had an affiliation with that party for at least 90 days before filing a candidacy notice.

A Delaware law establishes new rules for allocating campaign contributions among joint account holders, such as when spouses submit a political contribution using a single check.

ENVIRONMENT

In North Carolina, home sellers will have to disclose whether they know if underground oil and gas rights have been sold.

In New York State, consumers must begin recycling old computers, televisions and video game consoles instead of throwing them in the trash.

In the face of a three-year drought, new California laws require water districts and other local entities to develop plans to manage their groundwater and allow the state to intervene if necessary.

HEALTH

In Louisiana, smoking will be banned within 25 feet of public entrances to state office buildings, as a way to lessen exposure to secondhand smoke.

HUNTING

In North Carolina, the state Wildlife Resources Commission faces new restrictions on how high it can raise fees on hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. Starting with the new year, the fees can’t be raised beyond a widely used measure of inflation averaged over the previous five years.

MOTOR VEHICLES

In California, drivers’ licenses will be available for people in the country illegally.

In Nevada, students who are declared habitually truant could be delayed from obtaining a driver’s license, or could have their license suspended.

In Florida, all children aged 4 and 5 will be required to sit in a child safety seat or booster seat instead of using just a car seat belt.

In Indiana, license plates will be required on motor scooters for the first time following complaints about unsafe driving by those who’ve lost their licenses because of drunken driving arrests or other offenses.

In Michigan, lawmakers closed a loophole so motorcyclists can no longer buy a temporary permit every riding season without taking a safety or skills test needed for a full endorsement.

Massachusetts will finally allow “hold open” clips on pumps at self-service gasoline stations, ending motorists’ complaints – particularly in winter – about being in one of the few states where the clips weren’t allowed.

In Utah, police will be required to impound the vehicles of uninsured drivers instead of just having the option to do so.

SOCIAL MEDIA

In New York in February, it becomes illegal to pose for a photo with a lion, tiger or other big cat. The measure, which specifically prohibits contact between members of the public and big cats at animal shows, passed after self-portraits with the animals started becoming more popular online, particularly with some young men on dating sites.

TAXES

In North Carolina, Republican lawmakers who approved an income tax cut also took away breaks to Hollywood and cab drivers. Expiring is a 25 percent tax credit for TV and film productions that in 2013 allowed producers to forego paying $61 million in state taxes. It’s being replaced in 2015 by a grant program for video productions capped at $10 million.

In Virginia, drivers can expect to see a 5 cents-per-gallon increase in the cost of gas, while Maryland’s gas tax is set to rise about 3.5 cents.

In Mississippi, totally disabled veterans and their surviving spouses who have not remarried would not have to pay property taxes on their primary residence.

WAGES

The minimum wage goes up Thursday in several states, including Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A wage increase in New York takes effect Wednesday. In addition, troopers in Oklahoma get their first pay raise in seven years.

WEAPONS

In Pennsylvania on Jan. 5, a law takes effect that’s designed to give the National Rifle Association, or any gun owner, a better chance at successfully challenging local firearms ordinances in court. In general, Pennsylvania bars its municipalities from enforcing firearms ordinances that are stronger than state law. But the NRA has complained that dozens of local ordinances go unchallenged in Pennsylvania courts by residents who can prove it harmed them.

In California, law enforcement agencies are required to develop policies that encourage officers to search the state’s database of gun purchases as part of routine welfare checks. The bill was prompted by sheriff’s deputies’ failure to detect the danger posed by a man who weeks later embarked on a deadly rampage in May near the University of California, Santa Barbara.

New state laws taking effect Jan. 1 give livestock in California more living room, approve direct-to-consumer wine shipments in Massachusetts and levy the ultimate punishment on wannabe teen drivers in Nevada by denying them licenses if they skip too much school.

Other laws will allow Louisiana teens as young as 16 to register to vote, crack down on meth dealers in Michigan, end tax breaks for Hollywood in North Carolina and raise the minimum wage in Ohio, New York, Rhode Island and elsewhere.

Coroner: Black-market silicone injection killed transgender woman

A black-market silicone injection killed a transgender woman earlier this year, the Orleans Parish coroner’s office says.

The office ruled that the New Year’s Day death of 25-year-old Brenisha Hall was a homicide.

Hall died at Interim LSU Hospital in New Orleans, after two months in a coma. Doctors there originally ruled that Hall had died of natural causes, but the coroner’s office re-examined the case.

The coroner’s chief investigator, John Gagliano, said that the injected chemicals migrated into various parts of Hall’s body, including her brain, and was responsible for her death.

Gagliano said that the coroner’s office reviewed thousands of pages of medical records, re-examining the results of the initial autopsy at the hospital and performing further examinations.

“The pathologist took a lot of things into consideration,” Gagliano said.

Armani Nicole Davenport is accused of giving Hall the injection.

Davenport was arrested last November and charged with negligent injuring. Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office records say she remains free on a $25,000 bond. A New Orleans Police Department spokesman says detectives are considering whether to upgrade the charge.

It was not immediately clear whether Davenport has an attorney.

Hall was hospitalized Oct. 24, 2013. She was brought to the hospital in critical condition after having her hips and buttocks injected with a silicone substance that her family said might have been Fix-A-Flat. She later went into a coma.

While she showed some signs of improvement as she underwent various treatments, her body shut down Jan. 1.

Gay wedding float wins Rose Parade prize

AIDS Healthcare Foundation won the Isabella Coleman award in the Rose Parade on Jan. 1 for its entry, a float that featured a giant wedding cake and a gay couple marrying.

The float, the target of a right-wing protest in the days leading up to the annual New Year’s  event, won for the “best presentation of color and color harmony through floral use.”

The float was designed by Fiesta Parade Floats and the them was “Love Is the Best Protection.”

The marrying couple, Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair, met across a crowded dance floor 12 years ago. They exchanged vows perched on the wedding-cake-shaped platform in front of the viewing stand and with a television audience of millions.

After some right-wing groups launched a petition and boycott against the float, the Pasadena Tournament of Roses issued a statement defending the wedding. The statement said truly represented the parade’s theme of “Dreams Come True.”

On the Web …

https://www.facebook.com/roseparade

Protests target same-sex wedding at Rose Parade

Aubrey Loots and Danny Leclair joke that they’re getting married New Year’s Day in front of 80 million of their closest friends, and the men say they aren’t that concerned that a few thousand others may boycott the first same-sex marriage at the 125-year-old Rose Parade.

The pair, together for 12 years, plan to tie the knot atop a giant wedding cake on the AIDS Healthcare Foundation float when it stops at the Rose Parade’s reviewing stand on Jan. 1. Hundreds of thousands of people line the 5 1/2-mile parade route through Pasadena and an estimated 80 million more are expected to watch on TV from around the world.

It’s probably safe to assume that among those not watching will be Karen Grube of San Diego, who launched a “Boycott The 2014 Rose Parade” Facebook page after learning of the couple’s intentions. As of Dec. 30, it had about 4,000 likes.

Grube, who didn’t immediately respond to an interview request, has said that while she has nothing against Loots or Leclair, their wedding is an insult to people in the 32 states where gay marriage is still illegal.

“Why would the Tournament of Roses promote something illegal like that? Pot smoking is legal in some states too, and some even claim it has medical benefits. What’s next for the Rose Parade? A float touting the benefits of smoking pot?” said a statement on the “Boycott the 2014 Rose Parade” page.

Loots and Leclair say they have nothing personal against their critics either, adding they expected some backlash.

“As far as Karen is concerned, or any of those detractors is concerned, I actually personally feel that I’m grateful that they’re willing to speak out,” Leclair told The Associated Press on Dec. 30, as his fiance spoke up in agreement. “It’s only in hearing what others have to say that we are able to engage in a conversation, that we are able to find common ground.”

Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, quickly joined the conversation, issuing a statement saying children watching Wednesday’s parade “will be exposed to the spectacle of men `marrying’ men with the attendant public hugging and kissing.”

“We urge Americans to demand that their political leaders change the legal channel to make sure true marriage is protected and preserved,” he said.

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, which puts on the parade, said in a statement that it is proud to have the AIDS Healthcare Foundation’s float, adding it clearly represents this year’s parade theme, “Dreams Come True.”

“Like all of our sponsors and float designers, AHF continues to help make the Rose Parade a premier event through original and creative expressions that connect to parade themes,” the statement said.

Loots and Leclair, who say it was love at first sight when they met across a crowded dance floor 12 years ago, had planned to marry in 2014. But they said Monday that they had no idea it would be in front of the Rose Parade reviewing stand where the Rev. Alfreda Lanoix of the Unity Fellowship Church of Christ is to perform the ceremony. The couple and the pastor will be perched on a giant wedding-cake-shaped platform.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation chose Loots and Leclair, who own a small chain of hair salons, from among several couples who interviewed for the opportunity.

On the Web

http://www.aidshealth.org

Beagle bound for Rose Parade after surviving gas chamber

Things are coming up roses for a scrappy New Jersey beagle who survived a dog pound gas chamber.

Daniel will be among eight shelter dogs riding on a float in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.

The 2-year-old beagle mix was 6 months old on Oct. 3, 2011, when he was scheduled to be put down at the animal control facility in Florence, Ala. He was placed with 17 other dogs in a stainless-steel box roughly the size of a pickup truck bed that was filled with carbon monoxide.

Workers at the facility were surprised when he emerged, scared but unscathed, from the chamber. They named him Daniel after the biblical figure who survived the lion’s den.

He was adopted by Joe Dwyer of Nutley, N.J., and has been living happily with Dwyer’s family and other rescue dogs at their home about 10 miles west of New York City.

Dwyer, a motivational speaker, said Daniel’s story of surviving and thriving has prompted laws in 31 states that protect shelter animals against inhumane forms of euthanasia.

Daniel will perform his “high five to keep pets alive” trick and perform with other animal shelter survivors on a parade float sponsored by the Lucy Pet Foundation, which runs mobile spay, neuter and adoption clinics across the country. Daniel has been chosen as the “spokesdog” for the California-based organization, Dwyer added.

“He’s definitely one of the most joyous, happy dogs I’ve ever met in my life,” Dwyer said. “I think his positive attitude is why he’s survived.”

The Rose Parade takes place on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, Calif.

The path to prosperity in the new year is through your stomach

In keeping with what’s considered a good-luck tradition in northern Europe, Kim Wall will toast the new year with pickled herring, marinated either in wine sauce or with sour cream and chives. Wall owns Baensch Food Products Co. in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, which has produced Ma Baensch’s Marinated Herring since 1932. 

The tradition has its roots in the Baltic Sea region. Herring is an abundant food source in the region, and it’s thought to bring abundance in the upcoming year for people who consume it on New Year’s Eve. The silvery color of the fish resembles coins, which adds to its aura as a harbinger of riches.

Good-luck traditions surrounding food are common throughout the globe. Consuming a whole fish on New Year’s Eve is traditional in China, at least partly because the word for “fish” sounds similar to the word for “abundance.” According to Chinese lore, serving the fish whole — its head and tail intact — assures a bountiful New Year from start to finish.

Other cultures also see fish as a good-luck food, largely for its constant forward motion. Conversely, serving lobster and crab on New Year’s Eve is thought to bring bad luck because of the crustaceans’ sideways and backward movements. 

In Asian cultures, serving long noodles on New Year’s Eve is the key to longevity and prosperity. Although “long” is a relative term, the good-luck tradition requires that the noodles must never be broken during preparation, so stir-frying is the most common cooking method.

The American South has its own regional good-luck food traditions — the best known of which are collard greens and black-eyed peas. The greens symbolize dollar bills and the peas represent coins. But these foods also have historical significance.

During the Civil War, marauding Union troops took most of the food as they scoured the countryside. They left behind only collard greens and black-eyed peas as animal fodder. But those foods are rich in nutrients, and they helped Southerners survive during the four years of warfare.

Cornbread also is considered good luck. It was produced when wheat was scarce in the South. The most authentic kind uses little sugar or flour and often features “cracklings,” crispy meat bits derived from rendered lard.

Southern cooking features dishes that combine the various good-luck components. “Hoppin’ John,” a Carolina low-country dish, combines black-eyed peas and rice simmered slowly with bacon fatback, onions and salt. “Skippin’ Jenny,” as the leftovers are called, demonstrates frugality on the part of the diner, who is then sure to enjoy greater abundance in the New Year.

“Pot Likker,” the nutrient-rich juice left behind when cooking collard greens, is considered not only good luck, but also an aphrodisiac. Some recipes mix it with collard greens, cornbread and bits of pork to create a comforting and healthy soup.

In Austria, Cuba, Hungary and Spain, eating pork on New Year’s Eve is considered lucky, because pigs move ever forward, their snouts to the ground in pursuit of food. Pig-shaped cookies also are part of this tradition.

Eating fowl is considered good luck by some cultures, but bad luck by others. Birds scratch backward when searching for food, and a life lived backward does not imply progress.

Consuming round fruits — apples, oranges, grapes and others — on New Year’s Eve is considered good luck in many cultures. In the United States and Europe, eating 12 such fruits at a sitting is the best bet, while in the Philippines the lucky number is 13.

Pomegranates count as round fruits, but they take on special significance in Turkey. The fruit’s red color, which brings to mind the human heart, symbolizes life and fertility. Its medicinal qualities represent good health, and its abundance of seeds represents an abundance of wealth.

In Italy, lentils represent wealth. As the beans are cooked they grow in size, which means greater prosperity for those who consume them.

If all else fails, try eating gold-colored foods, a popular good-luck talisman that signifies increased wealth in many countries. Adding saffron to anything will do the trick. And what is a premium Champagne if not golden to the eye?

Wedding bells ring for gay couples in Maryland

Same-sex couples in Maryland were greeted with cheers and noisemakers held over from New Year’s Eve parties, as gay marriage became legal in the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line on New Year’s Day.

James Scales, 68, was married to William Tasker, 60, on Jan. 1 shortly after midnight by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake inside City Hall.

“It’s just so hard to believe it’s happening,” Scales said shortly before marrying his partner of 35 years.

Six other same-sex couples also were being married at City Hall. Ceremonies were taking place in other parts of the state as well.

The ceremonies follow a legislative fight that pitted Gov. Martin O’Malley against leaders of his Catholic faith. Voters in the state, founded by Catholics in the 17th century, sealed the change by approving a November ballot question.

“There is no human institution more sacred than that of the one that you are about to form,” Rawlings-Blake said during the brief ceremony. “True marriage, true marriage, is the dearest of all earthly relationships.”

Brigitte Ronnett, who also was married, said she hopes one day to see full federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Maryland, Maine and Washington state were the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, in November, a development Ronnett said was significant.

“I think it’s a great sign when you see that popular opinion is now in favor of this,” said Ronnett, 51, who married Lisa Walther, 51, at City Hall.

Same-sex couples in Maryland have been able to get marriage licenses since Dec. 6, but they did not take effect until Tuesday.

In 2011, same-sex marriage legislation passed in the state Senate but stalled in the House of Delegates. O’Malley hadn’t made the issue a key part of his 2011 legislative agenda, but indicated that summer that he was considering backing a measure similar to New York’s law, which includes exemptions for religious organizations.

Shortly after, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore wrote to O’Malley that same-sex marriage went against the governor’s faith.

“As advocates for the truths we are compelled to uphold, we speak with equal intensity and urgency in opposition to your promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith, not to mention the best interests of our society,” wrote O’Brien, who served as archbishop of the nation’s first diocese from October 2007 to August 2011.

The governor was not persuaded. He held a news conference in July 2011 to announce that he would make same-sex marriage a priority in the 2012 legislative session. He wrote back to the archbishop that “when shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”

The measure, with exemptions for religious organizations that choose not to marry gay couples, passed the House of Delegates in February in a close vote. O’Malley signed it in March. Opponents then gathered enough signatures to put the bill to a statewide vote, and it passed with 52 percent in favor.

In total, nine states and the District of Columbia have approved same-sex marriage. The other states are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

Maryland gay couples marry at midnight

Same-sex couples in Maryland were greeted with cheers and noisemakers held over from New Year’s Eve parties, as gay marriage became legal in the first state south of the Mason-Dixon Line on New Year’s Day.

James Scales, 68, was married to William Tasker, 60, on Jan. 1 shortly after midnight by Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake inside City Hall.

“It’s just so hard to believe it’s happening,” Scales said shortly before marrying his partner of 35 years.

Six other same-sex couples also were being married at City Hall. Ceremonies were taking place in other parts of the state as well.

The ceremonies follow a legislative fight that pitted Gov. Martin O’Malley against leaders of his Catholic faith. Voters in the state, founded by Catholics in the 17th century, sealed the change by approving a November ballot question.

“There is no human institution more sacred than that of the one that you are about to form,” Rawlings-Blake said during the brief ceremony. “True marriage, true marriage, is the dearest of all earthly relationships.”

Brigitte Ronnett, who also was married, said she hopes one day to see full federal recognition of same-sex marriage. Maryland, Maine and Washington state were the first states to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, in November, a development Ronnett said was significant.

“I think it’s a great sign when you see that popular opinion is now in favor of this,” said Ronnett, 51, who married Lisa Walther, 51, at City Hall.

Same-sex couples in Maryland have been able to get marriage licenses since Dec. 6, but they did not take effect until Tuesday.

In 2011, same-sex marriage legislation passed in the state Senate but stalled in the House of Delegates. O’Malley hadn’t made the issue a key part of his 2011 legislative agenda, but indicated that summer that he was considering backing a measure similar to New York’s law, which includes exemptions for religious organizations.

Shortly after, Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore wrote to O’Malley that same-sex marriage went against the governor’s faith.

“As advocates for the truths we are compelled to uphold, we speak with equal intensity and urgency in opposition to your promoting a goal that so deeply conflicts with your faith, not to mention the best interests of our society,” wrote O’Brien, who served as archbishop of the nation’s first diocese from October 2007 to August 2011.

The governor was not persuaded. He held a news conference in July 2011 to announce that he would make same-sex marriage a priority in the 2012 legislative session. He wrote back to the archbishop that “when shortcomings in our laws bring about a result that is unjust, I have a public obligation to try to change that injustice.”

The measure, with exemptions for religious organizations that choose not to marry gay couples, passed the House of Delegates in February in a close vote. O’Malley signed it in March. Opponents then gathered enough signatures to put the bill to a statewide vote, and it passed with 52 percent in favor.

In total, nine states and the District of Columbia have approved same-sex marriage. The other states are Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.