Free speech > Equality?

Forcing a baker to provide a wedding cake for a same-sex marriage over her religious objections violates her right to free speech, a California judge has ruled.

Source: A wedding cake is an ‘artistic expression’ that a baker may deny to a same-sex couple, Calif. judge rules – The Washington Post

A mistrial was declared in the case of coal boss James Laurita, who faced a host of charges surrounding illegal campaign contributions in U.S. District Court in Clarksburg.

The jury had indicated it was deadlocked fairly early into the deliberation process Friday afternoon, but Judge Irene Keeley, who denied an oral motion for a mistrial from Laurita’s attorneys, told the jury to go back to deliberating and try to reach a verdict.  However, the jury still failed to reach a verdict, and a mistrial was declared Friday evening.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of West Virginia is still weighing whether to retry Laurita.“I appreciate the hard work of the prosecution team. This is the justice system in its truest form. We respect the jury’s time and appreciate their work to try to come to a decision. We will continue to evaluate the case to determine any future prosecution,” U.S. Attorney Bill Powell said in a written statement.

Laurita is accused of funneling money to political candidates while skirting federal election laws between 2010 and 2013.  He was indicted on one count of of schemes to provide false information to the Federal Election Commission; three counts of causing a false statement to the FEC; one count of causing excessive contributions and two counts of causing contributions on behalf of another.

U.S. attorneys have argued Laurita directed eight executives at his company, Mepco LLC, to make campaign contributions to certain candidates and then channeled Mepco money to the employees as “bonuses.”All eight employees testified at trial that they knew the bonuses were reimbursements for campaign contributions and were informed of the alleged scheme during a 2010 meeting with Laurita.

Source: Mistrial declared in case of coal boss accused of campaign fund scheme | Cops & Courts |

The competitive retro gaming scene has been rocked by scandal once again. Less than a week after Todd Rogers was stripped of his world record time in the Atari 2600 game Dragster over claims that his score of 5.51 seconds was technically impossible (the record had stood for 35 years), the spotlight has turned to a far more prominent figure in the competitive gaming community.

Source: Arcade legend Billy Mitchell accused of using emulator in record Donkey Kong run – TechSpot

Drug companies collectively poured 20.8 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills into the small city of Williamson, West Virginia, between 2006 and 2016, according to a set of letters the committee released Tuesday. Williamson’s population was just 3,191 in 2010, according to US Census data.
“These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,” committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) said in a joint statement to the Charleston Gazette-Mail.
The nation is currently grappling with an epidemic of opioid addiction and overdose deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that, on average, 115 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. West Virginia currently has the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in the country.

Source: Drug companies submerged WV in opioids: One town of 3,000 got 21 million pills | Ars Technica

FIFA remains committed to hosting the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, where a projected 7,000 slaves will die in the process of constructing facilities funded by Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and Anheuser-Busch. But the atrocious human rights situation in that country extends beyond the laborers shanghaied into building an event they’ll never live to see; Qatar is jailing tourists for having the temerity to be raped. From CNN:

Source: World Cup Host Country Jails Dutch Rape Victim On Adultery Charges

Things are getting worse for Harley-Davidson, the maker of motorcycles that your dad aspired to ride. They will be closing a plant in Kansas City, Missouri, the company disclosed today, while reporting fourth-quarter profits that fell 82 percent (!) compared to the fourth quarter of last year. They also announced they’ll be making an electric motorcycle, so there’s that, too.  Just what the world needs, a Prius motorcycle for hipsters.

Source: Harley-Davidson Is Sad And Getting Sadder

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database, according to a contract finalized earlier this month. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking, raising significant concerns from civil libertarians.

Source: ICE has struck a deal to track license plates across the US – The Verge