Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

Republican state Senator Cale Case is speaking out against an anti-gay anti-human bill passed by the Wyoming House:

“Gays and lesbians live and work among us. They’re also soldiers in the military,” he said. “They’ve been here and talked about their service in Iraq and … now you’re going to deny them the benefits (of marriage of civil unions)....

“When you go home, you’re going to look people in the eye,” he said. “You’re going to tell them you made them into second-class citizens today if you pass this. You can’t do that. We’re the Equality State.”
South Dakota legislators have shelved a bill that would have made it legal to kill abortion providers:

The House speaker, Val Rausch, said that the legislation had been shelved, pending a decision on whether to allow a vote, amend the language or drop it entirely. A spokesman for Gov. Dennis Daugaard said, “Clearly the bill as it’s currently written is a very bad idea.”

The Obama administration seems to have repealed elements of the Bush-era "conscience clause" for healthcare providers:

Today, the Obama Administration issued a final ruling on and guidance for a "provider conscience clause," first proposed by the Bush Administration in July 2008 and put into effect in the waning hours of the administration's existence....

As of this writing, we are still studying the new ruling published today by the Department of Health and Human Services. However, two things are clear. One is that the administration in no uncertain terms clarifies that providers may not refuse to treat persons even if "lifestyle," "sexual orientation," or other considerations offend their consciences.

The second is that the administration makes explicit that contraception can not be equated with abortion and therefore providing contraception is not covered by conscience provisions.

Hawaii has approved civil unions:
Hawaii lawmakers gave final approval to civil unions Wednesday and sent the legislation to Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie, who plans to sign it into law within 10 business days. Civil unions would begin Jan. 1, 2012, making the state the seventh in the nation to grant virtually the same rights of marriage to same-sex couples without authorizing marriage itself.
Popular outcry has forced the UK to withdraw a plan to sell off its forests:
Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman was contrite when she appeared in front of members of the British parliament.

"I'm sorry. We got this one wrong, but we have listened to people's concerns," she said, as reported by the Guardian adding that, "if there is one clear message from this experience, it is that people cherish their forests and woodlands and the benefits they bring. My first priority throughout this period of debate has been securing a sustainable future for our woodlands and forests...."

David Babbs, head of 38 Degrees, the campaign group that collected half a million signatures, told Reuters: "Some say signing petitions and emailing (Members of Parliament) never changes anything. But it did this time. This is what people-power looks like, and over half a million of us are feeling very proud."
Plans to build a coal plant on one of Borneo's beaches have been scrapped:
Environmentalists, scientists, and locals have won the battle against a controversial coal plant in the Malaysian state of Sabah in northern Borneo. The State and Federal government announced today that they would "pursue other alternative sources of energy, namely gas, to meet Sabah's power supply needs." Proposed for an undeveloped beach on the north-eastern coast of Borneo, the coal plant, according to critics, would have threatened the Coral Triangle, one of the world's most biodiverse marine ecosystems, and Tabin Wildlife Reserve, home to Critically Endangered Sumatran rhinos and Bornean orangutans.

HUD has reaffirmed the illegality of discrimination against domestic violence survivors:
Last Wednesday, HUD issued a memo to its regional offices describing how discrimination against domestic violence survivors can violate the federal Fair Housing Act...

The HUD guidance is another step forward in ending housing discrimination against domestic violence survivors because it enables survivors to vindicate their rights. And while the guidance does not specifically address the fair housing rights of victims of dating violence, stalking, and sexual assault, the same analysis should apply to protect the housing of all survivors of gender-based violence.
The IRS will allow nursing mothers to deduct the cost of breastfeeding supplies.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has long advocated for this change to the tax code. “For years, the AAP has been urging the IRS to recognize that breast milk is not just the best and most natural food for infants; it confers well-documented health benefits on both baby and mother that cannot be obtained any other way,” AAP said in a statement. “The IRS has finally acknowledged this medical fact, and we applaud them for changing their regulations accordingly.”
(Be it known: Like everything else this administration does, this modest tax cut is an intolerable instance of tyrannical Islamosocialist homofascism.)

The White House has issued a draft plan to protect the Grand Canyon from uranium mining:

On July 21, 2009, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar issued a two-year “segregation order” banning new mining claims across 1 million acres of public lands around the world-famous national park. Today’s draft environmental impact statement proposes a 20-year “mineral withdrawal” across the same 1 million-acre area, banning new claims and blocking new mining on existing, unproven claims.

“This is an important step in protecting the people, the water and the wildlife of the greater Grand Canyon area,” said Sandy Bahr, chapter director of the Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “Now all those who support protecting Grand Canyon — tribal leaders, local communities, water districts, conservationists — must work to make sure the final decision for these lands is as protective as possible.”

The National Forest Service is finally undertaking minimal road planning:

The guidance memo directs all national forests to identify, through a science-based analysis, an ecologically and fiscally sustainable minimum road system by 2015....

For those interested in large landscape connectivity for wildlife, this initiative presents an opportunity to reduce road densities as well as protect and restore linkages and core habitat. For those interested in clean water and fisheries, it is an opportunity to improve water quality and watershed health. And for those interested in fiscal responsibility, it is an opportunity to identify a road system that the Forest Service can afford to maintain.

Inhabitat reports on Freshkills Park:
Mention "Freshkills" to any New Yorker and the reaction you'll most likely get is "P.U." The name has long been associated with the world's largest landfill, and has made life for many Staten Islanders (where the dump is located), well, stink. But what many people aren't yet aware of is that the long suffering of those folks is soon to be rewarded because a monumental new green space is being developed on the site of the old landfill, which received its last barge of garbage on March 22, 2001, and from what we've seen, it's incredible. At 2,200 acres, Freshkills Park is set to be almost three times the size of Central Park and will be the largest park developed in New York City in over 100 years. That's right, what was the world's biggest collection of garbage is being transformed into a beautiful green space for New Yorkers to hike, play and even ski - and with numerous sustainable strategies already in the works, it's also promising to be one of the most eco-friendly developments in the city.
Also: Fire insurance map typography. A consideration of Wendover (via things). Hakka houses. Photos by Toni Schneiders (via wood s lot). The Mississippi metro. The women of the Irene Mound. The Huntley Film Archives. And Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties.

No movie this week. Instead, click here to defend Planned Parenthood and Title X against Mike Pence and his cronies.

(Photo at top: "Indiana Harbor Belt RR, switchman demonstrating signal with a 'fusee' - used at twilight and dawn - when visibility is poor. This signal means 'back up.'" by Jack Delano, 1943.)


Makarios said...

Some very good news this week. Thank you for bringing it together.

Let us hope that next week will see some good news from Wisconsin--and other places as well, of course.

By the way, in case I haven't mentioned it before, your posts are greatly appreciated.

Phila said...

Thanks, Makarios. I appreciate the kind words.

Larkspur said...

Hey, I just saw this at the New York Times website. Unnamed Triangle Victims Identified. It's about the Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in which so many young women and men died 100 years ago this March 25. Some of the dead had never been identified until now. A researcher has put names and faces to the last people. I consider this a hope blog item because that fire was so crucial to the development of safer working conditions. And now, when ignorant and greedy people want to turn back the clock on these important changes, these images should remind us.

Phila said...

Fascinating, Larkspur. Thanks!