SCOTUS Marriage Equality Ruling, The Canary, PayPal Galactic, Blackhawks Thank Boston

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Top Story: SCOTUS Rules in Favor of Marriage Equality

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In a monumental ruling on Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) with a vote of 5 to 4 and declined to uphold Proposition 8. These rulings mean that married same-sex couples are now entitled to federal benefits and same-sex marriage is now legal in California, the nation’s most heavily populated state.

“The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Anthony M. Kennedy wrote. “By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment.”

While the rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage in other states, they no doubt have become a civil rights landmark and will only intensify the heating debate over the issue.

President Obama applauded the outcome of the ruling: “The laws of our land are catching up to the fundamental truth that millions of Americans hold in our hearts: When all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love, we are all more free.”

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In the aftermath of the ruling, the Obama administration said it would move swiftly to ensure same-sex married couples get the same benefits as heterosexual married couples – but what happens to same-sex couples who marry in a state that allows same-sex marriage and move to a state that doesn’t? That remains to be seen.

After the news broke, supporters and non-supporters – from politicians to the general public, from organizations to celebrities – alike took to social media with their reactions.

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The GIFs and Memes, especially, came out in full force:

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Even Google has gotten in on the action:

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How do you think social media has changed the way the public participates, reacts, and responds to politics? How do you think social media shapes how our government makes decisions?

 

Tool of the Week: The Canary

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According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 Report, poor indoor air quality may pose a risk to the health of over half of the world’s population. Why take the risk? That’s what the team behind The Canary, a modern smartphone-controlled smoke detector, wants you to consider.

We all are familiar with the trials and tribulations of the standard smoke detector. Do you know if your smoke detector’s batteries are working? Will it go off every time some toast or popcorn burns? More often than not, people end up disarming them or forgetting to change their batteries. After all, what are the chances that you’ll really need a smoke detector? Unfortunately, defective alarms are a major reason why 2,500 people still die from fires annually.

This is where The Canary comes in.

“We’re trying to create a smarter smoke detector. At the moment, it’s something that everyone has in their homes and everyone hates,” says lead developer Mark Belinsky. “It beeps at you obnoxiously at all hours, and people don’t know if it’s danger or annoyance.”

More than just a smoke detector, The Canary not only informs you of whether there is smoke in the room, but gives you readings for carbon monoxide and air quality. For people with allergies or asthma, the ability to keep tabs on dust, pollen, mold, and more can really make a difference in the day to day.

Accompanying the smoke detector is an app that alerts users if the battery is low, if an emergency is underway, what particulates are in your home, and, by importing data from other sources, data on the air quality outside.

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Currently, The Canary is running as a prototype in the NYC BigApps competition (take a look at their intro video). If all things go well and it reaches market at a reasonable price, we may all soon be able to feel far safer in our own homes minus all the annoyances that come with traditional smoke detectors. Would you get one?

 

Under the Radar: PayPal Galactic

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First Bitcoin, now outer space currency? Yes, you heard right. The fantasy that sci-fi aficionados have dreamed of for years is becoming a reality as citizen space travel orbits within our reach and PayPal is calling dibs.

The debut of PayPal Galactic, a proposal to own universal payments and commerce in space, was announced Thursday. SETI Institute and Space Tourism Society joined in on PayPal Galactic to organize space commerce’s future and build the galaxy’s first money transfer platform.

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Thursday’s discussion on the commercialization of other planets sought to answer key questions about how banks will need to adapt, which payment systems can work in space and between Earth and space, and how risk and fraud management systems will function in the outer space arena.

“What PayPal Galactic is doing is getting the right people to ask the right questions. We need to form a checklist of all the issues to consider — from taxes and regulations in space, to handling ISP addresses from orbit,” said PayPal Senior Director of Communications and Social Media Anuj Nayar. “Once we have these questions down, we can start answering them and provide the framework for off-world commerce.”

The need for a space currency will grow as commercial space travel enters the picture in the near future. Astronauts already need a payment system to pay their bills back home and purchase entertainment like music and e-books while in space. When space tourism begins and space hotels are introduced, people will need a way to pay for goods and services while hanging out among the stars.

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Many companies of different nationalities are already planning to conduct business in space. British company Virgin Galactic plans to launch its first commercial space flight this December, Russian company Orbital Technologies aims to launch a space hotel by 2016, and Dutch company Mars One hopes to create a colony on Mars by 2023.

As all of these companies from countries using different currencies hope to enter space, PayPal aims to create a standard for outer space currency. Do you think PayPal Galactic will succeed in establishing an outer space currency system? What do you think of commercial space travel?

 

Around the Hub: Chicago Says Thank You in Globe, While Toronto Thanks Chicago

Some of you may remember when the Chicago Tribune ran this ad in their paper at the beginning of the Stanley Cup, spoofing on the original ad they ran after the Marathon Bombings. Many saw this as a bit inappropriate because it was mocking their own respectful ad they had taken out to show Boston support:

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Taking heat for this ad may have spurred the Blackhawks to show Boston some love after beating us for the Cup with this ad running this morning in the Globe:

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This is a great gesture from the Blackhawks organization after a thrilling (yet depressing, if you are a Bruins fan) series that went 7 games. While this open letter as an ad was certainly a classy move, it was strangely juxtaposed by the Toronto Sun, who let everyone know how they feel about the Bruins with this cover:

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While print may be dying, there is something endearing, or upsetting about newspaper ads and headlines like these. Turning to the digital world is often the first reaction by marketers (especially in sports, where Twitter is king), but this shows that forgetting the age old medium of the daily paper can still cause quite a buzz.

Can you think of any other headlines made far more memorable through print than digital?