US election: America goes liberal with gay marriage, abortion and cannabis votes

US states backed legalising marijuana for recreational use, allowing gay marriage and rejected a call to ban public funding for abortions, in a swathe of state-wide ballots Tuesday. (Nov 7, 2012) US states backed legalising Marijuana for recreational use, allowing Gay marriage and rejected a call to ban public funding for Abortions, in a swathe of statewide ballots Tuesday. The generally liberal moves were decided among more than 170 ballot initiatives and referendums held across the country, as it re-elected Democratic President Barack Obama for four more years. Obama came out in favour of gay marriage months before the election which pitted him against Republican rival Mitt Romney, who insists that marriage should be reserved for a relationship between a man and a woman. During his first four-year term Obama had also fulfilled a pledge to repeal the controversial Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) law banning openly gayservicemen and women from serving in the US military. Three states voted Tuesday to legalise same-sex marriage, including Maine – which voted in a referendum against it in 2009, but reversed that decision with 54 per cent in favour to 46 per cent against. (AMERICA JUST SEALED HER FATE) Three states voted Tuesday to legalise same-sex marriage, including Maine – which voted in a referendum against it in 2009, but reversed that decision with 54 per cent in favour to 46 per cent against.

Washington state and Maryland also appeared set to approve the move, which had already been passed by state lawmakers. Both states voted 52-48 per cent in favour, according to CNN projections based on partial results.

Same-sex marriage is not federally recognised, but it was already legal in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia. It is constitutionally banned in 31 states.

Meanwhile three states – Colorado, Washington and Oregon – voted on proposals to legalise marijuana including for recreational use, going further than a number of states which already allow it for medicinal purposes.

Colorado backed the move by 54 per cent in favour to 46 per cent against, and Washington by 55 per cent to 45 per cent, according to CNN citing partial results. Oregon rejected it by 56 per cent to 44 per cent, it said.

Florida voters meanwhile rejected a proposal to ban the use of public funds for abortion or for insurance coverage for the service, according to partial results.

Fifty-five per cent of voters rejected Florida’s so-called Amendment 6, with 45 per cent in favour, according to NBC and CNN.

Abortion has long been a hugely divisive issue in America, with many Republicans fiercely opposed. During the campaign two Republican politicians made controversial comments which fuelled the debate.

In Missouri Republican candidate Todd Akin triggered a firestorm by suggesting that a women’s body could shut down conception in cases of “legitimate rape.”

Then more recently in a hotly contested Senate race in Indiana, Republican Richard Mourdock was criticised for suggesting that if a woman becomes pregnant from rape, it is “something that God intended to happen.”

Both Mr Akin and Mr Mourdock were beaten in their respective poll races on Tuesday, according to US networks.

Other closely watched ballot races included two in California: one to force food companies to provide labels for genetically modified (GM) ingredients in their products, which appeared set for rejection.

A vote on banning the death penalty – replacing it with life in prison without parole – appeared set to be rejected with 56 per cent against and 44 per cent in favour, according to CNN with 25 per cent of votes counted.

Advertisements

West Virginia crippled by massive snow storm

Parts of West Virginia were digging out from up to three feet of snow dumped in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a deluge that cut power to hundreds of thousands of residents and shut down main highways. The thick blanket of snow at higher elevations across the ridges of the Appalachian Mountains, including in parts of Maryland and Pennsylvania, also brought concerns that rivers and creeks in low-lying areas could flood later in the week as the snow melts, with temperatures expected to reach 60 degrees. Falling trees and storm-related traffic accidents claimed the lives of three people in Maryland, three in Pennsylvania and one in West Virginia, state officials said Tuesday. Close to 300,000 West Virginia residents were without power Tuesday afternoon, as high winds and heavy snow snapped branches and downed power lines, and officials expected the number to rise. Outages at several utilities had left some areas without access to water, and officials were sending out trucks to deliver bottled water. “West Virginia continues to be hard hit,” said Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, a Democrat. “Right now, my main focus is on life safety, power restoration and critical infrastructure.…We are doing everything we can to help the folks in need.”

More than 30 of West Virginia’s 55 counties had snow, with the heaviest snowfall at higher elevations, said Liz Sommerville, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Charleston, W.Va. Bowden, above 3,000 feet, recorded 24 inches by early Tuesday, compared with 16 inches in Beckley, elevation 2,300 feet, and 9 inches in the capital of Charleston, elevation 980 feet. “Trees are coming down. I got a feeling that a lot of weaker structures are going to come down,” said Gary Berti, of Davis, W.Va., where 30 inches of snow had fallen by Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Berti, 54 years old, said all the stores along the main street of Davis were closed Tuesday and only pickup trucks with four-wheel drive were braving secondary roads. Restaurants without power were making food for rescue workers using gas stoves, he said: “They’re cooking everything they’ve got because they know they’re going to lose it.” Snow was expected to keep falling on mountainous areas through Wednesday, and blizzard warnings remained in effect in more than a dozen counties Tuesday. At lower elevations, snow was expected to turn to rain by Tuesday night. The West Virginia Department of Transportation reported accidents on three major highways in the state and said fallen trees and power lines were complicating efforts to clear roads. The agency urged residents to stay home. Marshall University canceled classes at various campuses around the state, and West Virginia State University closed for the day.

Typhoons stoke fears of humanitarian crisis in North Korea

Footage from North Korea's Central News Agency depicts a small boat off Kangwon Province (Aug 30, 2012) Typhoon Bolaven struck the North on Tuesday and Wednesday, submerging houses and roads, ruining thousands of acres of crops and triggering landslides that buried train tracks. A second major storm, Typhoon Tembin, pounded the Korean Peninsula with more rains on Thursday.The storms come as North Korea is still recovering from earlier floods that killed more than 170 people and destroyed thousands of homes. That in turn followed a springtime drought that was the worst in a century in some areas.Foreign aid groups contacted on Thursday said they are standing by in Pyongyang, but had not received new requests for help from the North Korean government. They had little information on the extent of damage and were relying on reports from state media.

The country’s wariness toward the outside world, as well as a primitive rural road system, means aid may be slow arriving, if it is allowed to come at all.Typhoon Bolaven swept through parts of northeast China from Tuesday evening to Wednesday, flooding cities and delaying flights.”These fresh storms, coming just a few weeks after the serious flooding they do raise concerns because we see parts of the countryside battered again that have already been left in a vulnerable state,” said Francis Markus, spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in East Asia.Tembin’s strong winds and hard rain were pounding South Korea on Thursday, as residents of some cities waded through streets flooded with murky, knee-deep water. The national weather agency in Seoul said the storm would move off the peninsula’s east coast and that some cities in North Korea would see severe weather conditions.