TIME States

Kentucky Gov Will Defend Gay Marriage Ban After AG Refuses

Forced to seek outside counsel after attorney general says he won't "defend discrimination"

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said Tuesday that his office would hire outside counsel to appeal a court ruling that the state must recognize same-sex marriages performed outside Kentucky, just moments after the state attorney general, a fellow Democrat, said he would no longer defend the ban.

Jack Conway, Kentucky’s attorney general, said Tuesday that if he appealed the recent ruling, he would be forced to defend discrimination. “That I will not do,” he said in a statement. “As Attorney General of Kentucky, I must draw the line when it comes to discrimination.”

Beshear promptly announced that his office would continue the appeal, the Associated Press reports, saying there would be “legal chaos” if the courts don’t delay any changes until after an appeal. “Employers, health care providers, governmental agencies and others faced with changing rules need a clear and certain roadmap,” Beshear said. “Also, people may take action based on this decision only to be placed at a disadvantage should a higher court reverse the decision.”

The rapid-fire action and reaction underscored how states are struggling to respond to a wave of court decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans of various kinds. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently said state attorneys general don’t have to defend gay-marriage bans if they view them as discriminatory.

The circumstances are similar to Pennsylvania, where the state’s Democratic attorney general declined to defend the state’s gay marriage ban in a lawsuit, leading the Republican governor to take up the case.

The federal judge in the Kentucky case ruled last month that the state’s voter-approved ban on recognizing same-sex marriages violates the constitution, and the judge last week gave the state 21 days to implement his ruling that same-sex unions performed out of state be recognized in Kentucky.

[AP]

TIME States

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Reprises ‘Airplane’ Role in Wisconsin Tourism Ad

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Fans of the Airplane movie series rejoice.

NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabnar, a.k.a. the character Roger Murdock, and Robert Hays, a.k.a. the character Ted Striker, have returned to their roles in the classic comedy franchise for a group of Wisconsin tourism ads unveiled Monday. Abdul-Jabbar was once a star player for the Milwaukee Bucks basketball team.

In the ads, the two pilots celebrate Wisconsin as a vacation destination while alluding to classic jokes from the Airplane movies.

“Surely you can’t be serious,” Striker says, in one of the commercials.

“I am serious,” says Murdock. “And don’t call me Shirley.”

The inflatable co-pilot from the original movie also pops up, wearing a Wisconsin cheesehead hat.

TIME States

An Ohio Government Agency Didn’t Realize It Had Porn Posted On Its Website

Hands typing on laptop computer, close-up
Getty Images

One of the videos was called "Sexy Babe," so yeah

The thing about porn is that maybe you shouldn’t allow it to be uploaded to the website of the government agency where you work.

But alas, that’s what somehow happened at the Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently. Two porn videos — one titled “Sexy Babe” — ended up on the agency’s division of oil and gas web page, the Columbus Dispatch reports. Along with the porn were music files and other non-official materials.

Here’s what happened: the site is home to a data management system that contains “comprehensive well data for over 100,000 wells permitted since 1980.” But no credentials were required to transfer and share files there, ODNR spokesperson Eileen Corson told the Columbus Dispatch, so anyone could access the system and post whatever they wanted. In this case: porn.

It might seem like the work of a bored hacker, but after a bit of investigation, the agency ruled that out.

“Someone was using it as cloud storage,” Corson said. “Unfortunately, that happens.”

The ODNR has since taken the non-official (and, uh, inappropriate) files down and will now require the proper credentials to access the system. So the site will in theory remain porn-free, unless an employee accidentally posts it, which kind of seems plausible.

(h/t the Daily Dot)

TIME Economy & Policy

10 States Where Income Inequality Has Soared

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A surprising number one

Although average real income in the United States increased by more than a third between 1979 and 2007, not all workers benefited equally. In each of the 50 states, income growth among the top 1% of earners rapidly outpaced that of the bottom 99%, according to a recent study.

In four states — Alaska, Michigan, Nevada and Wyoming — average income increased exclusively for the top 1% and declined for the bottom 99%. In another six states, the top 1% accounted for more than two-thirds of all income growth between 1979 and 2007, while the income of the bottom 99% grew at a much slower pace. Based on a report published by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 10 states with the most lopsided income growth.

MORE: America’s Most Content (and Miserable) States

In many of the states with the most lopsided income growth, real average income rose little, if at all, between 1979 and 2007. While the average income of the bottom 99% rose 19% nationwide, it rose less than 5% in eight of these states.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Mark Price, coauthor of the study and a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, said that to many observers the issue of income inequality is a story about Wall Street’s growth. But “It’s not just a story of the financial markets in New York City,” Price said. “Over time, that [top] group in each state is accruing an increasingly larger share of the growth in income.”

In fact, as of 2012, the financial sector comprised a larger share of the economy than in the United States overall only in three of the 10 states with the most imbalanced income growth. Additionally, the financial sector contributed among the least in four of these states. The financial industry accounted for just 2.3% of gross domestic product (GDP) in Wyoming in 2012, the lowest share of any state.

Another factor that does not appear related to uneven gains in income is economic growth. Price told 24/7 Wall St., “Looking at growth and GDP over time is a pretty blunt instrument,” and the relationship between unbalanced income gains and economic growth is weak.

MORE: 10 Weird Things Thieves Steal

GDP growth was the largest in Nevada, Arizona and Florida between 1979 and 2007 — all among the 10 states with most imbalanced income growth. However, among the remaining seven states were also Alaska and Michigan, for example, where GDP growth lagged much of the rest of the nation.

State tax structures, too, may not play as large a role as many observers may believe. Price noted that, for most Americans, the decision of where to live was not tied to taxes. While three states with the most uneven income growth did not levy an income tax, three of the other 10 states — Hawaii, New York and Oregon — had exceptionally high top income tax rates.

However, Professor Richard Burkhauser, the Sarah Gibson Blanding Professor of Policy Analysis at Cornell University, added that taxes and transfer payments should not be ignored. In an email to 24/7 Wall St., Burkhauser, who has argued against the significance of income inequality said, “Government tax and transfer policies [can] dramatically redistribute income from those who have large amounts of taxable market income to those who do not.”

Still, according to Price, inequality in income growth “is a trend which should concern policy makers independent of the impact of taxes and transfers,” and that incomes — net of such considerations — have still disproportionately risen for the wealthiest 1%.

To determine the 10 states with the most skewed growth in incomes, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed income growth figures from 1979 to 2007 from “The Increasingly Unequal States of America,” a study by Estelle Sommeiller and Mark Price published by the EPI. We also reviewed figures from 2009 to 2011 from the same study. The authors derived average income growth from taxable income data, net of inflation. Additionally, we also reviewed state GDP figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, unemployment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and an assortment of figures from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey.

These are the top 5 states where income inequality has soared:

1. Alaska
> Share of growth captured by the top 1%: All
> Real income growth 1979-2007: -10.3% (the least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -17.5% (the least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 118.6% (10th least)

The average real income for all workers in Alaska dropped by more than 10% between 1979 and 2007, making Alaska the only state where total income declined during that period. Despite this, the average income of Alaska’s top 1% of earners more than doubled, and incomes among the wealthy represented the only income growth in the state. Alaska’s average income per worker in the bottom 99% was $58,482 in 2011, second highest in the nation, trailing only Maryland. Due to the state’s high corporate tax collections, as well as no state sales or income taxes, Alaska has among the lowest tax burdens in the country. Alaska also benefits from its petroleum profits tax, which is paid by companies based on the value of the oil and natural gas they produce.

2. Nevada
> Share of growth captured by the top 1%: 218.5%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 8.6% (2nd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -11.6% (2nd least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 164.0% (24th highest)

The average income in Nevada rose just 8.6% between 1979 and 2007, among the lowest increases in the nation. However, most of the state’s residents actually lost money during that time, as average real income dropped by 11.6% for the bottom 99% of earners. For the remaining top percentile of earners, average incomes rose by 164% between 1979 and 2007. As of 2007, the top 1% accounted for 28% of state residents’ total income, the fifth highest percentage in the United States. The gap between the top percentile and other earners has further increased in recent years. Incomes for the top 1% rose by 4% between 2009 and 2011, while incomes for the bottom 99% of earners slipped by a nation-leading 6.7%. Nevada has struggled with high unemployment in recent years, including an average unemployment rate of 11.1% in 2012, the highest in the nation that year.

MORE: Cities With Highest and Lowest Taxes

3. Wyoming
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 102.3%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 31.5% (23rd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -0.8% (3rd least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 354.3% (4th highest)

While Wyoming’s wealthiest residents have enjoyed the benefits of the state’s immense resources, the average income of the bottom 99% of workers in the state slid by 0.8% between 1979 and 2007. The state’s overall real income grew by 31.5% in the same period, however, due entirely to a 354% increase in the average income of the top-earning 1%. The income gap continued to grow between 2009 and 2011 as well. Average income of the bottom 99% of workers rose 6.9%, and that of the top 1% increased by 13.6%. Roughly 12.7% of the state’s labor force worked in the agriculture and mining industries in 2012, the most in the nation.

4. Michigan
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 101.7%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 8.9% (3rd least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: -0.2% (4th least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 100.0% (4th least)

Despite some good economic news for Michigan since the 2008 financial crisis, the state’s average real income growth between 1979 and 2007, as well as from 2009 to 2011, still trailed the nation as a whole. The wealthiest 1% enjoyed a 100% increase in average income between 1979 and 2007, while the average income of the bottom 99% dropped by 0.2% during those years. The income growth gap has remained wide in the years following the 2008 economic crisis. Between 2009 and 2011, the average income increase of the top 1% was 12.8%, while the average income increase of the bottom 99% was 0.2%. The good news for the bottom 99% of Michigan workers is that the U.S. auto industry has bounced back in terms of job creation and car sales.

MORE: States Where Children Are Struggling the Most to Read

5. Arizona
> Share of growth captured by the 1%: 84.2%
> Real income growth 1979-2007: 17.0% (8th least)
> Income growth, bottom 99%: 3.0% (6th least)
> Income growth, top 1%: 157.8% (23rd least)

In 1979, the top 1% of earners accounted for just 9.1% of all income in Arizona. By 2007, the top 1% accounted for a full one-fifth of all income. Incomes of the top 1% of earners soared by more than 157% during that time, while incomes of the bottom 99% rose by just 3%. Since then, matters have not changed. Between 2009 and 2011, the average real income of the bottom 99% of earners fell by 1%, even as incomes of the top 99% rose by nearly 6%. While real income growth in the state lagged the national rate over both periods, the state’s economy was among the fastest growing in the U.S. between 1979 and 2007. One possible explanation for why GDP grew as incomes remained flat is that Arizona added more than 1 million non-farm jobs between 1990 and 2007.

For the rest of the list, click here.
TIME Gay Rights

Federal Judge Says Kentucky Must Recognize Gay Marriage

Greg Bourke, front, and his partner Michael Deleon speak to reporters following the announcement from U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn striking down Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Louisville, Ky.
Greg Bourke, front, and his partner Michael Deleon speak to reporters following the announcement from U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn striking down Kentucky's same-sex marriage ban Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in Louisville, Ky. Timothy D. Easley / AP

U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II issued a ruling Thursday that struck down parts of Kentucky’s 2004 ban on gay marriage

A federal judge in Kentucky issued a final ruling that struck down parts of the state’s 2004 ban on gay marriage and requires the state to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages.

U.S. District Judge John Heyburn II signed the order Thursday, the Associated Press reports, making official his Feb. 12 ruling that said the state’s ban on gay marriages treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”

The order does not require Kentucky to issue marriage licenses to gay couples—the subject of a related lawsuit. However, same-sex couples in Kentucky can now change their names on official documents and receive other benefits enjoyed by married couples.

Earlier Thursday, Kentucky’s attorney general asked the judge for a 90-day stay so his office can consider whether to appeal and for the state to prepare to implement the ruling. Heyburn’s order does not mention the delay request.

[AP]

TIME States

Federal Judge Overturns Texas Same-Sex Marriage Ban

A federal judge found Texas' ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, but he's allowing the law to stay on the books pending appeal

Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge in San Antonio on Wednesday.

The ban is still in effect, however, because U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia issued a stay on his order until after an appeal, according to the Dallas Morning News. Attorney General Greg Abbott is reportedly confident there will be an appeal.

The Texas case was reportedly one of three brought by gay and lesbian couples who want their out-of-state marriages recognized within the Lone Star state. Garcia cited the Supreme Court ruling made in June that allowed same-sex couples access to federal benefits.

“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” Garcia said in his order. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.”

Wednesday’s ruling was the third instance in recent weeks where a judge in a southern state moved to recognize gay marriage, after similar rulings in Kentucky and Virginia. More rulings are expected in the future, as a reported 17 states have pending same-sex marriage cases, including five in the South.

[Dallas Morning News]

TIME States

Arizona Gov Seeks Input on Bill Seen as Anti-Gay

Jan Brewer
In this Jan. 13, 2014 file photo, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer speaks during her State of the State address at the Arizona Capitol in Phoenix. Ross D. Franklin—AP

Jan Brewer still hasn't said whether she'll sign or veto the bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer met Wednesday with both supporters and opponents of controversial legislation that would protect business owners who refuse service to gays in the state, as pressure builds on her to veto the measure.

The meetings by Brewer, reported by the Associated Press, come with week’s-end deadline to veto or sign the bill looming. The legislation would protect people from lawsuits who cite their religious beliefs in refusing to serve gays and lesbians. It’s been criticized by gay rights groups, business leaders and a growing chorus of Republicans as discriminatory and damaging to the state’s image. Proponents tout it as protecting religious freedom.

Reports Tuesday indicated that Brewer, a Republican, is leaning against the legislation. She hasn’t tipped her hand, but on Tuesday night a post on her Twitter account read: “I can assure you, as always, I will do the right thing for the state of Arizona.”

Arizona’s Republican-controlled state legislature passed the bill last week, but three of the lawmakers who voted in favor of the bill have since backtracked. In a letter to Brewer on Monday they wrote: While our sincere intent in voting for this bill was to create a shield for all citizens’ religious liberties, the bill has instead been mischaracterized by its opponents as a sword for religious intolerance. These allegations are causing our state immeasurable harm.”

[AP]

TIME States

California Couple Finds $10 Million in Gold Coins

This image provided by the Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers via Kagin's, Inc., shows one of the six decaying metal canisters filled with 1800s-era U.S. gold coins unearthed in California by two people who want to remain anonymous.
This image provided by the Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers via Kagin's, Inc., shows one of the six decaying metal canisters filled with 1800s-era U.S. gold coins unearthed in California by two people who want to remain anonymous. Saddle Ridge Hoard discoverers—Kagin's, Inc./AP Photo

And you thought that kind of thing only happened in movies

A couple in Northern California has literally struck gold, finding $10 million in rare gold coins buried on their property.

The discovery, thought to be the largest of its kind in U.S. history, was made a year ago while the husband and wife (who wish to remain anonymous) were out walking their dog. Spotting something shiny on the ground, they started digging, and eventually unearthed eight metal cans containing more than 1,400 late-19th century coins in $5, $10 and $20 denominations.

“Somebody could have buried them and then died before they let anybody know where they were,” said David Hall, co-founder of Professional Coin Grading Service, which authenticated the find. “It could have been some kind of robbery deal, who knows?”

About 90 percent of the treasure will be sold on Amazon’s Collectibles site, said rare coin expert Don Kagin, who is assisting the couple. Collectors can get a sneak peak at some of the mint-condition coins at the American Numismatic Association’s 2014 National Money Show in Atlanta, opening on Thursday.

[CNN]

TIME States

Here Is a Map of Every State’s Favorite Band

Here Is a Map of Every State's Favorite Band

Music intelligence platform The Echo Nest has a ton of data on users' listening preferences from across the country. By digging into that information, they found which artists and bands are most appreciated in each state

The Echo Nest provides a music intelligence platform to hugely popular services like Rdio, Spotify and MTV, so they have a ton of data on what people across America like to listen to. By digging into this well of information they were able to discern the favorite bands of each state and created a map that displays that data. For more info check out the blog of Paul Lamere, director of developer platform at The Echo Nest, who broke down the data further.

TIME National

Report: Hate Groups Decline in U.S.

Members of the National Socialist Movement rally in Los Angeles, in 2010.
Members of the National Socialist Movement rally in Los Angeles, in 2010. David McNew—Getty Images

A report says there's been a decrease after an explosion over the last decade and following the election of Barack Obama

Demoralized by the reelection of President Barack Obama but calmed by Washington’s failure to enact new gun control laws, hate groups are on the decline in the United States.

That’s according to a new report out Tuesday from the Southern Poverty Law Center, which found that the number of hate groups in the U.S. declined by seven percent in 2013. After a dramatic rise following Obama’s first election and the worst of the recession, the number of anti-government “patriot” group identified by the SPLC also fell 19 percent between 2012 and 2013.

The author of the new report, SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok, said momentum on the far-right experienced a marked turnaround in 2013 when it became clear that congressional efforts to enact significant gun control legislation would fail. “Guns and gun control are so much at the heart of the radical right,” Potok sad. “That looked like an issue that was going to become white hot, but it essentially died and went away.”

The failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform also left some hate groups without a clear target for their messaging, Potok said. Nativist groups that oppose immigration have declined dramatically since a peak in 2010, when SPLC counted 319 such organizations in the U.S. In 2013, there were just 22 nativist groups in operation, according to SPLC. And Potok said growing public support for liberal causes such as same-sex marriage and the legalization of marijuana have left the far-right feeling “depressed and deflated.”

Despite a steady downward trend in the number of hate groups identified by the SPLC, there are still far more such organization than in the past. There were 602 hate groups in the U.S. in 2000, rising to 1,018 in 2011. In 2013, according to SPLC, there were 939 hate groups across the country.

The power of hate groups is largely rooted in their ability to exist as an alternative to mainstream political debate. In recent years, as local, state and national political figures affiliated with the tea party movement have adopted some views that previously only existed outside the mainstream political system, the far-right has struggled to rally support for its organizations. Various scandals within the hierarchies of some hate groups, as well as deaths and arrests of some leaders, have also hurt organizations’ ability to recruit and build their ranks.

If immigration reform becomes a reality in Congress this year, far-right groups could be re-energized, according to Potok.

“If comprehensive immigration reform moves forward in any serious way and there is not an extremely hot reaction from those within the political mainstream,” Potok said, “these groups will start to grow again.”

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