REFERENDUM


REFERENDUM
A referendum (in some countries synonymous with plebiscite — or a vote on a ballot question) is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is asked to either accept or reject a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new constitution, a constitutional amendment, or a law. Besides initiative and recall election the referendum is one of the three pillars of direct democracy.
The term plebiscite has a generally similar meaning in modern usage, and comes from the Latin plebiscita, which originally meant a decree of the Concilium Plebis (Plebeian Council), the popular assembly of the Roman Republic. Today, a “referendum” can also often be referred to as a “plebiscite”, but in some countries they refer to different types of votes, differing in their legal consequences. In the United States, the terms are synonymous but “plebiscite” is considered archaic.
In the United States, a referendum is also typically known as an initiative when originating in a petition of ordinary citizens, and as a referendum only if it consists of a proposal referred to voters by the legislature. A referendum can be considered a kind of election and is often referred to as such in the U.S. (an election literally means a choice). In other countries, the term election is often reserved for events in which elected representatives are chosen.
Rationale
From a political philosophical perspective, referendums are an expression of direct democracy. However, in the modern world, most referendums need to be understood as an element of systems that are predominantly representative in character. As such, they tend to be used quite selectively, covering issues such as changes in voting systems, where currently elected officials may not have the legitimacy or inclination to implement such changes.
Multiple-choice referendums
A referendum usually offers the electorate only two choices, either to accept or reject a proposal, but this need not necessarily be the case. In Switzerland, for example, multiple choice referendums are common; two multiple choice referendums held in Sweden, in 1957 and 1980, offered voters a choice of three options; in 1977 a referendum held in Australia to determine a new national anthem was held in which voters were presented with four choices; and in 1992, New Zealand held a five-option referendum on their electoral system.
A multiple choice referendum poses the question of how the result is to be determined if no single option receives the support of an absolute majority (more than half) of voters – a proviso for some; others regard a non-majoritarian methodology like the Borda count as more inclusive and more accurate. This question can be resolved by applying voting systems designed for single winner elections to a multiple-choice referendum.
Swiss referendums get around this problem by offering a separate vote on each of the multiple options as well as an additional decision about which of the multiple options should be preferred. In the Swedish case, in both referendums the ‘winning’ option was chosen by the Single Member Plurality (“first past the post”) system. In other words the winning option was deemed to be that supported by a plurality, rather than an absolute majority, of voters. In the 1977 Australian referendum the winner was chosen by the system of preferential instant-runoff voting. The 1992 New Zealand poll was counted under the two-round system, as were polls in Newfoundland (1949) and Guam (1982), for example.
Although California does not have deliberate multiple-choice referendums in the Swiss or Swedish sense (in which only one of several counter-propositions can be victorious, and the losing proposals are wholly null and void), it does have so many yes-or-no referendums at each Election Day that the State’s Constitution provides a method for resolving inadvertent conflicts when two or more inconsistent propositions are passed on the same day. This is a de facto form of Approval Voting – i.e., the proposition with the most “yes” votes prevails over the others to the extent of any conflict.
Other voting systems which could be used in multi-option referendums are the Borda and Condorcet rules.
Criticisms

Although some advocates of direct democracy would have the referendum become the dominant institution of government, in practice and in principle, in almost all cases, the referendum exists solely as a complement to the system of representative democracy, in which most major decisions are made by an elected legislature. In most jurisdictions that practice them, referendums are relatively rare occurrences and are restricted to important issues.
Advocates of the referendum argue that certain decisions are best taken out of the hands of representatives and determined directly by the people. Some adopt a strict definition of democracy, saying elected parliaments are a necessary expedient to make governance possible in the large, modern nation-state, though direct democracy is nonetheless preferable and the referendum takes precedence over Parliamentary decisions.
Other advocates insist that the principle of popular sovereignty demands that certain foundational questions, such as the adoption or amendment of a constitution, the secession of a state or the altering of national boundaries, be determined with the directly expressed consent of the people.
Advocates of representative democracy say referendums are used by politicians to avoid making difficult or controversial decisions.

PENTECOST


PENTECOST
Pentecost (Ancient Greek: Πεντηκοστή [ἡμέρα], Pentēkostē [hēmera], “the fiftieth [day]”) is the Greek name for the Feast of Weeks, a prominent feast in the calendar of ancient Israel celebrating the giving of the Law on Sinai. This feast is still celebrated in Judaism as Shavuot. Later, in the Christian liturgical year, it became a feast commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and other followers of Jesus Christ (120 in all), as described in the Acts of the Apostles 2:1–31. For this reason, Pentecost is sometimes described by some Christians today as the “Birthday of the Church”.
In the Eastern church, Pentecost can also refer to the whole fifty days between Easter and Pentecost, hence the book containing the liturgical texts for Paschaltide is called the Pentecostarion. The feast is also called White Sunday, or Whitsun, especially in England, where the following Monday was traditionally a public holiday. Pentecost is celebrated seven weeks (50 days) after Easter Sunday, hence its name. Pentecost falls on the tenth day after Ascension Thursday.
The Pentecostal movement of Christianity derives its name from the New Testament event.
Public holiday
Since Pentecost itself is on a Sunday, it is automatically a public holiday in Christian countries. Pentecost Monday is a public holiday in many European countries including Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania (since 2008), (most parts of) Switzerland, Ukraine and also in the African nations Senegal, Benin and Togo.
In Sweden it was also a public holiday, but Pentecost Monday (Annandag Pingst) was replaced by Swedish National Day on June 6, by a government decision on December 15, 2004. In Italy and Malta, it is no longer a public holiday. It was a public holiday in Ireland until 1973, when it was replaced by Early Summer Holiday on the first Monday in June. In the United Kingdom the day is known as Whit Monday, and was a bank holiday until 1967 when it was replaced by the Spring Bank Holiday on the last Monday in May.
Old Testament
Pentecost is the old Greek and Latin name for the Jewish harvest festival, or Festival of Weeks (Hebrew חג השבועות Hag haShavuot or Shevuot, literally “Festival of Weeks”), which can be found in the Hebrew Bible. Shavuot is called the Festival of Weeks (Hebrew: חג השבועות, chag ha-Shavuot, Exodus 34:22, Deuteronomy 16:10 ); Festival of Reaping (Hebrew: חג הקציר, chag ha-Katsir, Exodus 23:16 ), and Day of the First Fruits (Hebrew יום הביכורים, Yom ha-Bikkurim, Numbers 28:26 ).
New Testament
The biblical narrative of Pentecost is given in the second chapter of the Book of Acts. Present were about one hundred twenty followers of Christ (Acts 1:15), including his core group of twelve Disciples (Acts 1:13, 26), his mother Mary and various other women disciples (Acts 1:14). Their reception of Baptism in the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room is recounted in Acts 2:1–6:
“ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other languages, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. ”
While those on whom the Spirit had descended were speaking in many languages, the Apostle Peter stood up with the eleven and proclaimed to the crowd that this event was the fulfillment of the prophecy (“I will pour out my spirit”).

MURDER


MURDER
Murder is the unlawful killing, with malice aforethought, of another human, and generally this premeditated state of mind distinguishes murder from other forms of unlawful homicide (such as manslaughter).
As the loss of a human being may inflict grief upon the individuals close to the victim, and the commission of a murder is highly detrimental to the good order within society, most societies both present and in antiquity have considered it a most serious crime worthy of the harshest of punishment. In most countries, a person convicted of murder is typically given a long prison sentence, possibly a life sentence where permitted, and in some countries, the death penalty may be imposed for such an act – though this practice is becoming less common.
At common law
According to Blackstone, English common law identified murder as a public wrong. At common law, murder is considered to be malum in se, that is an act which is evil within itself. An act such as murder is wrong/evil by its very nature. And it is the very nature of the act which does not require any specific detailing or definition in the law to consider murder a crime.
Some jurisdictions still take a common law view of murder. In such jurisdictions, precedent case law or previous decisions of the courts of law defines what is considered murder. However, although the common law is by nature flexible and adaptable, in the interests both of certainty and of securing convictions, most common law jurisdictions have codified their criminal law and now have statutory definitions of murder.
Exclusions
General
Although laws vary by country, there are circumstances of exclusion that are common in many legal systems.
• Self-defense: acting in self-defense or in defense of another person is generally accepted as legal justification for killing a person in situations that would otherwise have been murder. However, a self-defense killing might be considered manslaughter if the killer established control of the situation before the killing took place. In the case of self-defense it is called a “justifiable homicide”.
• Unlawful killings without malice or intent are considered manslaughter.
• In many common law countries, provocation is a partial defense to a charge of murder which acts by converting what would otherwise have been murder into manslaughter (this is voluntary manslaughter, which is more severe than involuntary manslaughter)
• Accidental killings are considered homicides. Depending on the circumstances, these may or may not be considered criminal offenses; they are often considered manslaughter.
• Suicide does not constitute murder in most societies. Assisting a suicide, however, may be considered murder in some circumstances.
• Killing of enemy combatants by lawful combatants in accordance with lawful orders in war, although illicit killings within a war may constitute murder or homicidal war crimes. (see the Laws of war article)
Specific to certain countries
• Capital punishment: some countries practice the death penalty. Capital punishment ordered by a legitimate court of law as the result of a conviction in a criminal trial with due process for a serious crime. The 47 Member States of the Council of Europe are prohibited from using the death penalty.
• Euthanasia, doctor assisted suicide: the administration of lethal drugs by a doctor to a terminally ill patient, if the intention is solely to alleviate pain, is seen in many jurisdictions as a special case (see the doctrine of double effect and the case of Dr John Bodkin Adams).
• A killing simply to prevent the theft of one’s property may or may not be legal, depending on the jurisdiction. In the US, such a killing is legal in Texas. In recent years, Texas has been the scene of some very controversial incidents that involved killing to protect property, that have led to discussions of the laws and social norms of the state (see Joe Horn shooting controversy). In a highly controversial case, in 2013, a jury in south Texas acquitted a man who killed a prostitute, who, after receiving $150 from the man in exchange for sex, refused to have sex with the man, and attempted to run away with his money. The man’s lawyer argued that the man was trying to retrieve property which was stolen during night time, an action which allows for the use of deadly force in Texas. The jury accepted this defense. There was major controversy in this case, due to the fact that there were questions about whether the money was in fact stolen, since the man had given it voluntarily to the prostitute, and the “contract” of prostitution is in fact an illegal contract in Texas, since both buying and selling sex are criminal offenses.
• Killing an intruder who is found by an owner to be in the owner’s home (having entered unlawfully): legal in most US states (see Castle doctrine).
• Killing to prevent specific forms of aggravated rape/sexual assault – killing of attacker by the potential victim or by witnesses to the scene; this is especially the case in regard to child rape- legal in parts of the US and in various countries
• In some parts of the world, especially in jurisdictions which apply Sharia law, the killing of a woman or girl in specific circumstances (e.g., when she commits adultery and is killed by husband or other family members) known as honor killing, is not considered a homicide. For example, in Jordan, part of article 340 of the Penal Code states that “he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty.”

OSTRICH


OSTRICH
The ostrich (Struthio camelus) is either one or two species of large flightless birds native to Africa, the only living member(s) of the genus Struthio, which is in the ratite family. Some analyses indicate that the Somali ostrich may be better considered a full species separate from the Common Ostrich, but most taxonomists consider it to be a subspecies.
The ostrich shares the order Struthioniformes with the kiwis, emus, rheas, and cassowaries. However, phylogenetic studies have shown that it is the basal extant member of Palaeognathae and is thus equally closely related to flighted tinamous. It is distinctive in its appearance, with a long neck and legs, and can run at up to about 70 km/h (43 mph), the fastest land speed of any bird. The ostrich is the largest living species of bird and lays the largest eggs of any living bird (extinct elephant birds of Madagascar and the giant moa of New Zealand laid larger eggs).
The ostrich’s diet consists mainly of plant matter, though it also eats invertebrates. It lives in nomadic groups of 5 to 50 birds. When threatened, the ostrich will either hide itself by lying flat against the ground, or run away. If cornered, it can attack with a kick of its powerful legs. Mating patterns differ by geographical region, but territorial males fight for a harem of two to seven females.
Description
Ostriches usually weigh from 63 to 145 kilograms (139–320 lb), Ostriches of the East African race (S. c. massaicus) averaged 115 kg (254 lb) in males and 100 kg (220 lb) in females, while the nominate subspecies (S. c. camelus) was found to average 111 kg (245 lb) in unsexed adults. Exceptional male ostriches (in the nominate subspecies) can weigh up to 156.8 kg (346 lb). At sexual maturity (two to four years), male ostriches can be from 2.1 to 2.8 m (6 ft 11 in to 9 ft 2 in) in height, while female ostriches range from 1.7 to 2 m (5 ft 7 in to 6 ft 7 in) tall. New chicks are fawn in colour, with dark brown spots. During the first year of life, chicks grow at about 25 cm (9.8 in) per month. At one year of age, ostriches weigh approximately 45 kilograms (99 lb). Their lifespan is up to 40–45 years.
The feathers of adult males are mostly black, with white primaries and a white tail. However, the tail of one subspecies is buff. Females and young males are greyish-brown and white. The head and neck of both male and female ostriches is nearly bare, with a thin layer of down. The skin of the female’s neck and thighs is pinkish gray, while the male’s is blue-gray, gray or pink dependent on subspecies.
Behaviour and ecology
Ostriches normally spend the winter months in pairs or alone. Only 16 percent of ostrich sightings were of more than two birds. During breeding season and sometimes during extreme rainless periods ostriches live in nomadic groups of five to 100 birds (led by a top hen) that often travel together with other grazing animals, such as zebras or antelopes. Ostriches are diurnal, but may be active on moonlit nights. They are most active early and late in the day. The male ostrich territory is between 2 and 20 km2 (0.77 and 7.72 sq mi).
Feeding
They mainly feed on seeds, shrubs, grass, fruit and flowers; occasionally they also eat insects such as locusts. Lacking teeth, they swallow pebbles that act as gastroliths to grind food in the gizzard. When eating, they will fill their gullet with food, which is in turn passed down their esophagus in the form of a ball called a bolus.
Mating
Ostriches become sexually mature when they are 2 to 4 years old; females mature about six months earlier than males. As with other birds, an individual may reproduce several times over its lifetime. The mating season begins in March or April and ends sometime before September. The mating process differs in different geographical regions.

CONCLUSION
The ostrich is farmed around the world, particularly for its feathers, which are decorative and are also used as feather dusters. Its skin is used for leather products and its meat is marketed commercially.

HUMAN RIGHTS


HUMAN RIGHTS
Human rights are moral principles that set out certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law. They are “commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being.” Human rights are thus conceived as universal (applicable everywhere) and egalitarian (the same for everyone). The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law, global and regional institutions. Policies of states and in the activities of non-governmental organizations and have become a cornerstone of public policy around the world. The idea of human rights suggests, “if the public discourse of peacetime global society can be said to have a common moral language, it is that of human rights.” The strong claims made by the doctrine of human rights continue to provoke considerable skepticism and debates about the content, nature and justifications of human rights to this day. Indeed, the question of what is meant by a “right” is itself controversial and the subject of continued philosophical debate.
Many of the basic ideas that animated the human rights movement developed in the aftermath of the Second World War and the atrocities of The Holocaust, culminating in the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Paris by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948. The ancient world did not possess the concept of universal human rights. The true forerunner of human rights discourse was the concept of natural rights which appeared as part of the medieval Natural law tradition that became prominent during the Enlightenment with such philosophers as John Locke, Francis Hutcheson, and Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, and featured prominently in the English Bill of Rights and the political discourse of the American Revolution and the French Revolution.
From this foundation, the modern human rights arguments emerged over the latter half of the twentieth century.
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…
—1st sentence of the Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.
—Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
History of concept
Although ideas of rights and liberty have existed in some form for much of human history, they do not resemble the modern conception of human rights. According to Jack Donnelly, in the ancient world, “traditional societies typically have had elaborate systems of duties… conceptions of justice, political legitimacy, and human flourishing that sought to realize human dignity, flourishing, or well-being entirely independent of human rights. These institutions and practices are alternative to, rather than different formulations of, human rights”. The modern sense of human rights can be traced to Renaissance Europe and the Protestant Reformation, alongside the disappearance of the feudal authoritarianism and religious conservativism that dominated the Middle Ages. One theory is that human rights were developed during the early Modern period, alongside the European secularization of Judeo-Christian ethics. The most commonly held view is that concept of human rights evolved in the West, and that while earlier cultures had important ethical concepts, they generally lacked a concept of human rights. For example, McIntyre argues there is no word for “right” in any language before 1400. Medieval charters of liberty such as the English Magna Carta were not charters of human rights, rather they were the foundation [10] and constituted a form of limited political and legal agreement to address specific political circumstances, in the case of Magna Carta later being recognised in the course of early modern debates about rights. One of the oldest records of human rights is the statute of Kalisz (1264), giving privileges to the Jewish minority in the Kingdom of Poland such as protection from discrimination and hate speech.
Philosophy
The philosophy of human rights attempts to examine the underlying basis of the concept of human rights and critically looks at its content and justification. Several theoretical approaches have been advanced to explain how and why human rights have become a part of social expectations.
One of the oldest Western philosophies of human rights is that they are a product of a natural law, stemming from different philosophical or religious grounds. Other theories hold that human rights codify moral behavior which is a human social product developed by a process of biological and social evolution (associated with Hume). Human rights are also described as a sociological pattern of rule setting (as in the sociological theory of law and the work of Weber). These approaches include the notion that individuals in a society accept rules from legitimate authority in exchange for security and economic advantage (as in Rawls) – a social contract. The two theories that dominate contemporary human rights discussion are the interest theory and the will theory. Interest theory argues that the principal function of human rights is to protect and promote certain essential human interests, while will theory attempts to establish the validity of human rights based on the unique human capacity for freedom.

GAY MARRIAGE


GAY MARRIAGE
Gay marriage (also known as ) Same-sex marriage is marriage between two people of the same biological sex and/or gender identity. Legal recognition of same-sex marriage or the possibility to perform a same-sex marriage is sometimes referred to as marriage equality or equal marriage, particularly by supporters. The legalization of same-sex marriage is characterized as “redefining marriage” by many opponents.
The first laws enabling same-sex marriage in modern times were enacted during the first decade of the 21st century. As of 9 May 2014, sixteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, United Kingdom, Uruguay) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry. Polls in various countries show that there is rising support for legally recognizing same-sex marriage across race, ethnicity, age, religion, political affiliation, and socioeconomic status.
Introduction of same-sex marriage laws has varied by jurisdiction, being variously accomplished through a legislative change to marriage laws, a court ruling based on constitutional guarantees of equality, or by direct popular vote (via a ballot initiative or a referendum). The recognition of same-sex marriage is a political, social, human rights and civil rights issue, as well as a religious issue in many nations and around the world, and debates continue to arise over whether same-sex couples should be allowed marriage, or instead be allowed to hold a different status (a civil union), or be denied such rights. Same-sex marriage can provide same-sex couples who pay their taxes with government services and make financial demands on them comparable to those afforded to and required of opposite-sex married couples. Same-sex marriage also gives them legal protections such as inheritance and hospital visitation rights.
Some analysts state that financial, psychological and physical well-being are enhanced by marriage, and that children of same-sex couples benefit from being raised by two parents within a legally recognized union supported by society’s institutions. Court documents filed by American scientific associations also state that singling out gay men and women as ineligible for marriage both stigmatizes and invites public discrimination against them. The American Anthropological Association avers that social science research does not support the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon not recognizing same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriages can be performed in a secular civil ceremony or in a religious setting. Various faith communities around the world support allowing same-sex couples to marry or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies; for example: Buddhism in Australia, Church of Sweden, Conservative Judaism, U.S. Episcopalians, Humanistic Judaism, Native American religions with a two-spirit tradition, Druids, the Metropolitan Community Church, Quakers, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism, Unitarian Universalists, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, and Wiccans, as well as various other progressive and modern Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Jewish groups and various minor religions and other denominations.
Opinion polling
Numerous polls and studies on the issue have been conducted, including those that were completed throughout the first decade of the 21st century. A consistent trend of increasing support for same-sex marriage has been revealed across the world. Much of the research that was conducted in developed countries in the first decade of the 21st century shows a majority of people in support of same-sex marriage. Support for legal same-sex marriage has increased across every age group, political ideology, religion, gender, race and region of various developed countries in the world.
Recent polling in the United States has shown a further increase in public support for same-sex marriage. When adults were asked in 2005 if they thought “marriages between homosexuals should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages”, 28 percent replied in the affirmative, while 68 percent replied in the negative (the remaining 4 percent stated that they were unsure). When adults were asked in March 2013 if they supported or opposed same-sex marriage, 50 percent said they supported same-sex marriage, while 41 percent were opposed, and the remaining 9 percent stated that they were unsure. Various detailed polls and studies on same-sex marriage that were conducted in several countries show that support for same-sex marriage generally increases with higher levels of education, and that younger people are more likely to support legalization than older generations.
Contemporary
Denmark was the first state to recognize a legal relationship for same-sex couples, establishing “registered partnerships” very much like marriage in 1989. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first nation in the world to grant same-sex marriages. Same-sex marriages are also granted and mutually recognized by Belgium (2003), Spain (2005), Canada (2005), South Africa (2006), Norway (2009), Sweden (2009), Portugal (2010), Iceland (2010), Argentina (2010), Denmark (2012), Brazil (2013), France (2013), Uruguay (2013), New Zealand (2013) and England & Wales (2014). In Mexico, same-sex marriage is recognized in all 31 states but only performed in Mexico City, Quintana Roo and Chihuahua. In Nepal, their recognition has been judicially mandated but not yet legislated. In the United States, eighteen states and the District of Columbia permit same-sex marriage, beginning with Massachusetts in 2004. Additionally, per the Supreme Court’s ruling in United States v. Windsor (2013), the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages performed in U.S. states where it is legal.