The U.S. Department of Labor has added pregnancy and gender identity to the Equal Opportunity Act:
The U.S. Department of Labor announced late last week that a revision of the Equal Opportunity policy now ensures protections of federal government employees based on gender identity and pregnancy. Both protections have been added under sex discrimination, and will apply to hiring, disciplinary action, and promotion for agency employees.The Presbyterian Church will accept openly gay clergy members:
[L]ast night the Presbytery of the Twin Cities (MN) cast the decisive 87th vote required to give the amendment the support of a majority of church presbyteries, or local governing bodies. “We applaud the Presbyterian Church for taking this historic step,” said Wayne Besen, Executive Director of Truth Wins Out. “It is our hope that other religious leaders and faith communities will choose to follow their example.”Papua New Guinea has suspended a program that grants community lands to foreign corporations:
The move comes after local protest and complaints from prominent scientists, including the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation (ATBC), the world's largest professional society devoted to studying and conserving tropical forests. Last month ATBC urged the government to declare a moratorium on SABLs.ConocoPhillips will not drill for oil in uncontacted indigenous territory in Peru:
The withdrawal comes after pressure from indigenous-rights and environmental groups to leave two Peruvian oil blocks—39 and 67—alone, due to the presence of indigenous people who have chosen to remain uncontacted. ConocoPhillips and other companies have been warned they will 'decimate' tribes if they remain.New England's Salem Harbor generation plant will shut down by 2014:
For years -- for decades, really -- environmentalists and politicians have been crusading to clean up or shut down the Salem Harbor electric generating station, a 60-year-old coal- and oil-fired plant that sends plumes of pollution over the coast and is considered a toxic eyesore in neighboring Marblehead.China's reforestation efforts seem to be working:
But after years of having New England power-grid operators keep the plant open, saying it was critical to reliable electric supply, there's finally a firm date for the plant to close: June 2014, when plant owner Dominion says stringent new federal air-pollution laws will make the plant uneconomical to keep open.
China's response to large-scale erosion with reforestation is paying off according to a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS). The 10-year program, known as Sloping Land Conversion Program (SLCP), is working to turn some 37 million acres back into forest or grasslands after farming on steep slopes in the Yangtze and Yellow River basins had made them perilously susceptible to erosion and flooding....Apparently, the most terrifying words in the Japanese language are not "I'm from the government, and I'm here to build a tsunami barrier."
The study, which describes the program as 'exceptional', found that SLCP had largely succeeded on its environmental goals, decreasing soil erosion by up to 68% in some places.
Japanese villagers are overwhelmed with gratitude for the former mayor who conceived of this gargantuan floodgate. Plagued by visions of the 1933 tsunami that killed hundreds of villagers, Kotaku Wamura insisted on the $30 million project completed in the 1970s. The residents of Fudai were completely opposed. It was ugly. It was huge. And it was expensive. But a few decades later, that very floodgate spared the lives of all but one of Fudai’s residents when the tsunami struck in March this year.In India, vultures seem to be making a tentative comeback after the 2006 ban on diclofenac:
The ban on a veterinary drug which caused an unprecedented decline in Asian vulture populations has shown the first signs of progress, according to scientists. However, the recovery of the wild vulture populations requires efforts to see the drug completely removed from the birds' food supply.In the Philippines, mobile phones are helping to reduce maternal mortality:
Reason #312 that chimpanzees are more qualified than John Boehner to be Speaker of the House:
In the Philippines, where nearly 40% of the population lives below the poverty line, the equity gap is stark and wide. However, the ownership of a mobile phone is one of the few things that has crossed the income divide, making telecommunication relatively affordable and more accessible in this country of 7,100 islands. There are 70 million Filipinos who have mobile phones, compared to only 7 million installed fixed phone lines.
This is the basis for developing a program that uses text messaging to inform and educate pregnant mothers on safe motherhood. Aside from its mass appeal, mobile phones provide the advantage of two-way communication. Mothers are not just passive participants receiving information, but can also ask questions or communicate their concerns if they need to.
Chimpanzees are self-aware and can anticipate the impact of their actions on the environment around them...according to a study released Wednesday.Carlsbad Caverns is getting new and better lights:
The current lighting in Carlsbad Caverns is being replaced in favor of the new LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). This is being done not so much as a cost-saving measure but rather because by using LEDs the exact light frequency or color emitted can be very carefully selected. Algae growing in the cave have been a problem since lights were first introduced. Algae blooms near and around the lights were not only unnatural and unsightly, but damaging to the cave as well. By adjusting the exact frequency of the light emitted to that which algae are insensitive, the algae can be stopped or greatly reduced. The park service has already converted one underground room as a test site and the results are very encouraging.Amateur cylinder recordings. The Electric Pencil. Photos by Simon Roberts. A photoblog entitled Autant que Faire se Peut. And photos by Charles Nègre.
Hummingbirds. Pink hearts, orange stars, yellow moons and green clovers. The Federal Theatre Project. And photos by Serge Vargasoff.
Weird bridges and record players. Scenes from the post office railway. Photos of Moscow in 1909 (via things). And decay fibers.
And a movie.
(Photo at top: The Nebra Sky Disk by Dbachmann.)