Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

The White House continues to force the gay lifestyle down America's throat:

This week, the Obama administration filled two high-ranking positions with openly gay appointees and nominated a third for a federal judgeship in New York.

If approved by the Senate, J. Paul Oetken will become the third openly gay federal judge in the country. Oetken is a senior vice president and associate general counsel at Cablevision Systems.

Two LGBT officials will take on key roles in the Obama White House.

TPM provides a bit of context:

President Barack Obama on Wednesday appointed two new commissioners to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a federal agency best know recently for its partisan focus on investigating the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation case. The White House's move will rebalance what was intended to be a bipartisan panel which came under conservative control thanks to a move during the Bush administration to "game" the system.

In related news, Hawaii's governor has nominated an openly gay judge to the state Supreme Court:
Shizue McKenna, an open lesbian, was nominated to the Hawaii Supreme Court for a 10-year term on Tuesday. Democratic Gov. Neil Abercrombie said this was “the most important decision” in his career, according to the Star Advertiser....

As the first openly gay judge on the Hawaii Supreme Court, McKenna hopes to give hope to those who feel they cannot succeed on behalf of their sexual orientation.
In Egypt, a group of protesters reportedly formed a human shield to protect the treasures in the Egyptian Museum:

According to Al-Jazeera, whose coverage of the protests in Egypt has been notably better than any American outlet's, a team of Egyptians has formed a "human shield" around the national museum, diverting tens of thousands of their countrymen away from the antiquities and back into the massive demonstration in Midan Tahrir square.

The Obama administration will scrap BushCo's color-coded threat advisories:
[T]he system initiated by then-president George W. Bush was often mocked by critics as a relic of post-September 11, 2001 frenzy that caused alarm without explaining the reasons for the alerts.

"The old color-coded system taught Americans to be scared, not prepared," said Representative Bennie Thompson, the top Democrat on the House Committee on Homeland Security.

New Mexico's Supreme Court has ruled that the state must publish recently adopted greenhouse gas regulations:

The New Mexico Supreme Court on Wednesday sided with environmental groups in a pair of cases that challenged an attempt by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration to delay publication in the state register of recently approved pollution control measures....

The lawsuits filed on behalf of the environmental groups by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center alleged that Martinez exceeded her powers by blocking the publication of rules adopted by state regulators.

A new bill will require electric automobiles to make noise:

Spurred by concerns that new, near-silent vehicles may pose a danger to both the blind and those not paying attention visually, the law will eventually require all vehicles on the road to make some sound to help keep pedestrians safe. For now, the law calls on the Secretary of Transportation to “study and establish a motor vehicle safety standard that provides for a means of alerting blind and other pedestrians of motor vehicle operation.”

New York may phase out the dirtiest forms of heating oil:
Buildings in New York City would burn cleaner heating oil and emit far less pollution under proposed rules announced on Friday.

The rules, which are subject to a 30-day period of public comment and a hearing on Feb. 28, would phase out the dirtiest types of heating oil used by about 10,000 buildings in New York.
Four hundred rabbis want Glenn Beck to stop calling people "Nazis":
Four hundred rabbis, including every leader from every branch of Judaism in the United States, have signed their name to a full-page letter in today's Wall Street Journal asking the NewsCorp CEO Rupert Murdoch to rebuke two of his employees: Roger Ailes, the president of Fox News, and Glenn Beck, the right-wing channel's most infamous host.

Galvanizing the rabbis is Ailes' and Beck's continued insistence on alluding to Nazism and the Holocaust in interviews and during broadcasts. Ailes recently called NPR executives "Nazis" for firing the political analyst Juan Williams after he said he's afraid to fly with people in "Muslim garb." And Beck's tactic of likening opponents to fascists is quite well-known in most left-leaning circles. Such comparisons, say the rabbis, are so inapt as to diminish the real horrors of Nazism.
Meanwhile, Beck's ratings are way down:
[T]he days of Glenn Beck drawing three million viewers are long gone. And they’re never coming back. But at this rate, the two-million viewership mark seems to be slipping away, too. Glenn Beck now routinely flirts with ratings in the 1.6-1.8 million range, which is almost exactly half the rating Beck was getting one year ago.
Ancient statues destroyed during WWII have been restored:

Unearthed in present-day Syria a century ago, the 3,000-year-old basalt statues and stone reliefs in the exhibition, "The Tell Halaf Adventure," shattered into thousands of pieces when their Berlin home was destroyed by bombing in 1943.

The rubble was rescued, then slumbered in the vaults of the capital's Pergamon Museum, then in East Berlin, for decades before a painstaking restoration project started in 2001.

Over the past decade, restorers sifted through around 27,000 fragments of rubble and gradually reassembled most of them.

The DoI is issuing stricter rules on scientific integrity as part of its new strategic plan. I'm mildly heartened by some of the plan's other components:
Salazar also said the department wants to hire more young people between the ages of 15 and 25 to help with conservation. The strategic plan said that by the end of 2012, the department wants its employment of young people to be more than 50 percent above 2009 levels....

The strategic plan also calls for increasing use of alternative fuels by 10 percent each year, cutting information technology, operating and energy costs by 4 percent by the end of 2016, and reducing the department's data centers from 426 to 173 by the end of 2016.

The end of The World may be nigh:
The World was envisioned as the ultimate luxury retreat: for an exorbitant price you could lay claim to your own private island – a corner of the globe to call your own. The islands were created from displaced sand dredged up from the depths of the sea, however a property tribunal recently cited evidence that the islands have begun to erode and the waterways that separate them are dissolving due to the influx of sand.

Fujitsu has designed a compostable mouse:
Fujitsu, maker of the bioplastic computer and zero-watt computer monitor, has announced its latest: a mouse made with bioplastic instead of petroleum-based plastic, is attached to a cable made without PVC, and has a compostable shell.
Frogs have returned to restored wetlands on the Oregon coast:
The return of the Pacific tree frogs signaled a turning point. After more than a century of draining, clearing and cultivation as a working farm, the 23 acres off the highway near Cannon Beach Junction could be wetland habitat again.

The pasture already had changed shape. The upside-down spruce and hemlock trees, with root wads poking in all directions about 20 feet high, were embedded in the ground next to the edge of a pond as perches for birds. Overgrown blackberries have been yanked and replaced by native plants.

Now, the sounds of the wetlands had returned.
Nonstop design work, seen as a garden of ideas. The lonesome death of Pincher, Oklahoma. Partition numbers = fractal. The Marvelous Corricks. The marvelous kittens. Architecture of Constantinople.

Figureheads. Three-dimensional visualizations of Chichén-Itzá. The centers of the USA. Scientific collaboration visualized. Installations by Tracey Snelling. Photos by Steve McNamara. Cheese labels. And the abandoned island of Askold:

GOLEM: Journal of Religion and Monsters (via things). The Journal of Universal Rejection. A photographic history of thermalism, in slideshow format. (Related: La Côte Basque). Prospective Kafka covers. Some Polaroids, and some uncut matchbook sheets. And the La Coe Collection of lantern slides:


(Image at top: "San Francisco in Jello-O: Alamo Square" by Liz Hickok, 2004).

Friday, January 21, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

Same-sex couples now have hospital visitation rights:

[N]ew regulations on hospital visits that took effect this week are providing protection for same-sex couples or others whose closest relationship is with a non-family member.

The regulations, ordered by President Barack Obama last spring, state that hospitals should not “restrict, limit or otherwise deny visitation privileges on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or disability.”

The Connecticut Supreme Court has recognized the legal rights of non-genetic parents:

Two partners who sign a surrogacy agreement in Connecticut can now have both their names on the birth certificate, even without a genetic link. Intended parents can get immediate recognition without any other action, even before the birth of the child.

The ruling is "really significant," Anthony Raftopol said by phone Wednesday. "The state is, for the first time, recognizing the nature of the relationships that are being created thought surrogacy arrangements in general and IVF [in-vitro fertilization] in particular....

"Connecticut has set the stage for other states and legislatures -- the sky hasn't fallen," he said. "Times are changing and we need to bring the family code out of the 19th century."

Researchers have found seven new populations of endangered lemurs in Madagascar:
A survey of a remote forest area in Madagascar turned up seven new groups of silky sifaka, a critically endangered lemur threatened by habitat destruction. The finding raises hope that the species—which is listed as one of the world's 25 most endangered primates—is surviving in Marojejy National Park despite an outbreak of illegal rosewood logging in 2009 and 2010.
The US Forest Service has reversed a decision to allow livestock grazing on public land in Arizona:
In response to appeals filed by the Center for Biological Diversity last fall, the U.S. Forest Service today reversed two decisions that would have allowed livestock grazing across 33,000 acres of national forest lands in Arizona.

In both cases, the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests failed to account for the impacts of grazing on pronghorn, deer, elk and tassel-eared squirrel populations. The lands and species in question also include habitat and prey for the threatened Mexican spotted owl and critically endangered Mexican gray wolf.

A new study suggests that we could power our "civilization" with renewable energy by 2030.
Authored by Mark Delucchi and Mark Jacobsona, the eye-opening report recently appeared in the journal Energy Policy, detailing how renewable technologies that are available now can completely power our electric grid system in a relatively short 20 years time frame. While the hurtles are massive and the numbers are staggering the report is a hopeful look at how we can eliminate our very bad habit of pumping vast amounts of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere.
As a very tentative step in that direction, Kaiser Permanente plans to power seven California hospitals with fuel cells:

Health care organization Kaiser Permanente has partnered with Bloom Energy to put fuel-cell generators at seven facilities in California by the end of the year. In total, the cells will deploy four megawatts of solid oxide fuel-cell generated power. The agreement expands upon Kaiser’s solid commitment to renewable energy and sustainable development. The company already powers its Santa Clara Medical Center with solar power and uses solar panels in another 15 facilities. The addition of fuel cells is expected to reduce the use of fossil fuels for electricity at the new locations by 34 percent.

Triple Pundit reports on water offsets:

Water offsets, or as their creator BEF calls them, Water Restoration Certificates do the seemingly impossible: Bring water back to dead or seasonally running waterways. Four billion gallons as of 2010.

But it’s not some magic that brings water back.It’s pragmatically providing incentives to those that own the water, to give it back. Or rather, not use it.
A US drug maker will stop production of a drug used in lethal injections:
The only U.S. manufacturer of a key lethal injection drug is discontinuing the drug's production because Italian authorities wanted a guarantee that it wouldn't be used to put inmates to death — a decision that could disrupt executions in states already struggling with a shortage of the drug.

Hospira Inc., of Lake Forest, Ill., said Friday that it had decided to switch manufacture of the anesthetic from its North Carolina plant to a Hospira plant in Liscate, outside of Milan, in Italy. But Italian authorities insisted the company control the product's distribution all the way to the end user to guarantee it wouldn't be used in executions.

After discussions with Italian authorities, with Hospira wholesalers and within the corporation, Hospira decided it couldn't make that promise.

A couple of radio stations have informed Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity that their services are no longer required:
Yesterday, hate radio hosts Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity had their nationally syndicated radio shows dropped from WPHT in Philadelphia, which is the second radio station to drop both of the conservative commentators....

Just weeks ago, Beck was dropped from WOR in New York, but the most recent cancellation in Philadelphia hurts Beck even more. Beck got his start in Philadelphia, and many of his radio staffers still live in Philly, including Beck’s side-kick Stu. Immediately after being dropped yesterday, Beck dropped all affection for the city where he got his start, saying, “Philly sucks”:

And China has banned live animal shows and circuses:

China has issued a total ban on all 300 state-owned zoos, which have been cited for all kinds of animal abuses and injuries. The ban went into effect on Tuesday, though has a couple loopholes that some will keep an eye on.

Paris catacombs (via things). Photos by Frank Sutcliffe (via wood s lot). Plotter drawings from the 1960s (via Make). A Coney Island winter (via Coudal). Pencils of Light. And an Antarctic eclipse.

Pneumatica, including "an Automaton which drinks at certain times only, on a Liquid being presented to it." Electrolite. Twentieth-century nostalgia. Photos by Mark Nelson. And photos by Mitch Dobrowner.

Six girls. The pattern of true love, which absence cannot stain. Project Iceworm. Political textiles. An electronic swatchbook. Flybys of Phobos. Sounds of pulsars. And photographs from the Tay Bridge enquiry:

This, too:

(Photo at top: "Snowflake Study" by Wilson A. Bentley, 1890.)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

The EPA has vetoed a mountaintop-removal mining project:

The Environmental Protection Agency today denied a crucial Clean Water Act permit for the largest-ever proposed mountaintop-removal coal mine in Appalachia. The agency’s veto of the permit for the controversial Spruce Mine in Logan County, W.V., is the first-ever retroactive denial of a mining permit. The permit had already been approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the EPA had authority to overrule that decision. Its permit denial means the mine cannot go forward as planned.
Iowa will permit Planned Parenthood to use telemedicine:
Medical regulators for the state of Iowa announced yesterday that they will not punish a Planned Parenthood doctor for prescribing mifepristone, also known as RU-486 or the abortion pill, remotely through telemedicine. Last year, Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, filled a formal complaint with the Iowa State Board of Medicine arguing that the video method did not meet the state law requiring medical doctors be present for the administration of the pill.
Researchers have identified a farming method that may reduce nitrous oxide emissions:
One field was “strip tilled” with nitrogen fertilizer placed in a band in the soil, while another field was left untilled with a surface application of nitrogen fertilizer. The research team found that strip tillage and banded fertilizer significantly reduced the amount of greenhouse gases emitted per bushel of corn grain production, when compared to that of surface applied no-till treatments.
Gila National Forest in New Mexico is proposing to ban ORVs from the San Francisco River:
Gila National Forest officials are proposing to keep off-road vehicles out of the San Francisco River, a move that would provide important protection for endangered fish, frogs and birds that use the river habitat. The proposal — which is likely to be fought by off-roaders — is part of a new draft “travel management plan” that will determine where ORVs will be allowed. The public can provide input on the draft plan at a series of meetings this month in New Mexico....

The Gila National Forest’s plan is in stark contrast to a similar plan released by the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona in late 2010. Each alternative in the Arizona plan would permit all types of vehicles, from ATVs to monster trucks, to drive directly in a section of the San Francisco River that runs from the confluence of the Blue River to Clifton, Arizona.

A federal court has ruled against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's attempt to reduce habitat for the San Bernardino kangaroo rat:
Monday’s decision resolves a lawsuit filed in 2009 by the Center for Biological Diversity, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society and Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley challenging the 2008 “critical habitat” designation for the kangaroo rat. U.S. District Judge Anne E. Thompson threw out the 2008 decision, which provided just 7,779 acres of critical habitat, and reinstated a 2002 decision, which set aside more than 33,000 acres for the species.
And a federal appeals court has upheld the addition of a U.S. Magnesium plant in Utah to the Superfund list:

EPA officials say the site is heavily contaminated. Company officials have said the EPA overstated any hazards. But the appeals court says the agency's decision was not "arbitrary or capricious."

Six frog species have been rediscovered in Haiti:
The species, some of which were last seen two decades ago, were discovered during a biological survey in the remnants of the country's severely degraded tropical forests.

"It was incredible", said Robin Moore, a biologist with Conservation International who co-led the October expedition to a remote mountain area in Southern Haiti. "We went in looking for one missing species and found a treasure trove of others. That, to me, represents a welcome dose of resilience and hope for the people and wildlife of Haiti."

Photo © Robin Moore/iLCP
Apparently, we're better off not making left turns:
A new study from North Carolina State University says that superstreets are actually more efficient than traditional intersections. The researchers collected data from three superstreets in North Carolina that had traffic lights and looked at travel time for both right and left turns as well as passing straight through. They also examined collision data from 13 superstreet intersections in that state that didn’t have traffic lights.

“The study shows a 20 percent overall reduction in travel time compared to similar intersections that use conventional traffic designs,” says NCSU engineering professor Joe Hummer, one of the researchers who conducted the study. “We also found that superstreet intersections experience an average of 46 percent fewer reported automobile collisions—and 63 percent fewer collisions that result in personal injury.”

The Los Angeles MTA has retired its last diesel-powered bus:
The last diesel bus in the 2,228 vehicle fleet of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) was recently retired, making Metro the first major transit agency in the world to operate only "alternative" fuel buses. They now have 2,221 compressed natural gas (CNG) buses, one electric, and six gasoline-electric hybrid buses.
Toyota claims to be developing a motor that does not require rare-earth minerals:

The motor could help cut Toyota’s dependency on rare-earth materials from China, which controls more than 90 percent of the global market for the metals. China’s government cut export quotas for the first half of 2011 by 35 percent last month. That follows a 72 percent reduction in the second half of 2010, causing the price of some of the metals to more than double.

Bayer will phase out production and storage of methyl isocynate at a West Virginia plant:

Bayer officials said the moves are a result of the company's agreement last August to phase out the pesticide aldicarb because of concerns it posed "unacceptable dietary risks," especially to children. Company officials also cited a 1995 pledge by Bayer to move away from products that global public health officials believe are especially dangerous.

Floriated ornament. Words of five syllables, including "fornication." Book Worship. Photos by Magnús Ólafsson ljósmyndari. A visit to Donbass. And photos by Sarah Moon.

Swiss images (via things). This City Called Earth (ditto). Overhead wires. The periodic table engraved on a human hair. And via wood s lot, photos by Harold Cazneaux and scenes from Spitalfields Life.

Medium religion. Photos by William Darhy. Reinhabited Circle Ks. Transit symbolism. The domestic life of alchemists (via Peacay). Gaslight images. And old pastimes:

And the inevitable short film.

(Painting at top: "Laguna" by Guido Cadorin.)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Point / Counterpoint

Brent Bozell on the massacre in Tucson:

The star of the media's Smearing Olympics was Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, a Democrat who rushed to the readily available media microphones to proclaim the shooting was the natural outgrowth of hot "anti-government" talkers, that "the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from the people in the radio business and some people in the TV business" was to blame
Brent Bozell on a television ad for Doritos:
[N]ever underestimate the ability of some people to go too far, where talent and imagination are rejected for sophistry and shock....

Oh, I'm sure they knew there would be outraged Christians, but there would also be a "free media" bounce, as in some "buzz" on the Internet.
Michelle Malkin on the massacre in Tucson:
Despite desperate attempts by the progressive left to pin the massacre on the "harsh tone" of its political opponents, a vast majority of Americans reject the cynical campaign to criminalize conservatism, suppress political free speech and capitalize on violent crime for electoral gain.
Michelle Malkin on rap music:
What kind of relief do we get from this deadening, coarsening, dehumanizing barrage from young, black rappers and their music-industry enablers who have helped turn America into Tourette’s Nation?
Janice Shaw Crouse on the massacre in Tucson:
In a pseudo-sophisticated culture that is put off by the notion of the existence of evil, commentators have to go on a witch hunt to find someone to blame when the human capacity to replicate Cain’s murderous behavior becomes glaringly obvious.
Janice Shaw Crouse on promiscuous sex:
As promiscuous sex has become “normalized” — thanks in part to Hollywood’s incessant push to expand the borders of the sexual revolution — the percentage of children born outside of marriage from 1970 to 2006 has mushroomed.
Maggie Gallagher on the massacre in Tucson:
[I]s our climate of hate so entrenched that rather than seek solutions we prefer to say this is yet another reason to hate Sarah Palin?
Maggie Gallagher on Kate Michelmen's responsibility for the murder of a 7-year-old child:
[T]he feminist leaders of Kate Michelman's generation, still painfully peddling sexual liberation as a path to empowerment for women, have never accepted responsibility for the carnage that has been unleashed in feminism's name.
Michael Reagan on the massacre in Tucson:

In Dubnik's twisted logic, Loughner may be a murderer but somehow or other it's all Rush's fault for his unforgivable habit of calling a spade a spade and referring to liberals as being mentally disjointed as the majority of them are.

Michael Reagan on the decline of civility:

The America in which I grew up had standards, and people’s public behavior was judged by how well they measured up to those standards. One was expected to toe the line when it came to the way they communicated with one another....

In a society headed for the sewer, anything goes. And when anything goes -- when the most extreme forms of language and behavior come to be seen as normal -- civilization is transformed into barbarism.
Sarah Palin on the massacre on Tucson:

[J]ournalists and pundits should not manufacture a blood libel that serves only to incite the very hatred and violence they purport to condemn. That is reprehensible.

Sarah Palin on the Obama administration's sacrifice of innocent children to its false gods:
The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama's "death panel" so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their "level of productivity in society," whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.
George Will on the massacre in Tucson:

The craving is for banishing randomness and the inexplicable from human experience. Time was, the gods were useful. What is thunder? The gods are angry. Polytheism was explanatory. People postulated causations.

And still do. Hence: The Tucson shooter was (pick your verb) provoked, triggered, unhinged by today's (pick your noun) rhetoric, vitriol, extremism, "climate of hate."

George Will on valid moral norms:

[B]iology and environment interact. And the social environment includes moral assumptions, sometimes codified in law, concerning expectations about our duty to desire what we ought to desire....

[C]onfusion can flow from the notion that normality is always obvious and normative, meaning preferable. And the notion that deviations from it should be considered "disorders" to be "cured" rather than stigmatized as offenses against valid moral norms.

Andrew McCarthy on the massacre in Tucson:
It is as stupid to claim that rhetoric causes violence as it is to claim that normal people can be entrapped into terrorism.
Andrew McCarthy on the rhetoric that caused the violence in Tucson:
[E]lites scoff at the very idea of real, knowable virtue — unless it is rhetorically useful in showing that America has failed to measure up. They would erase any traditional understanding of virtue from public life, replacing it with their vapid “values.” Under these, the young learn, a terrorist can still be a hero if he kills for noble reasons, if it becomes fashionable to deny the humanity of those he takes as his enemies.

And then we wonder at the depravity of the next atrocity.

Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

Oregon may impose strict new rules on water pollution:

Oregon is poised to adopt the strictest standard for toxic water pollution in the United States, driven by concerns about tribal members and others who eat large amounts of contaminated fish....

The new rule, scheduled for approval in June, would dramatically tighten human health criteria for a host of pollutants, including mercury, flame retardants, PCBs, dioxins, plasticizers and pesticides.
New Jersey has a strong new anti-bullying law:

New Jersey’s governor has signed an anti-bullying bill that gay rights advocates say is the toughest law of its kind in the nation.

Brazil has approved in vitro fertilization for same-sex couples:
A statement from the organization says that the change “was a demand of modern society.”

The rules published Thursday replace guidelines that were in place for nearly two decades.

NASA satellite data may help farmers to save water:
NASA researchers have developed a computer program to help farmers better manage irrigation systems in real time. The software uses data from NASA satellites, local weather observations, and wireless sensor networks installed in agricultural fields to calculate water balance across a field and provide farmers with information on crop water needs and forecasts that can be accessed from computers or handheld devices.
The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled against US Bank and Wells Fargo:

In a major ruling in the Massachusetts Supreme Court today, US Bank and Wells Fargo lost the “Ibanez case,” meaning that they don’t have standing to foreclose due to improper mortgage assignment. The ruling is likely to send shock waves through the entire judicial system, and seriously raise the stakes on foreclosure fraud. Bank stocks are plummeting at this hour.

Andrew Wakefield stands revealed as an even bigger fraud than most of us suspected:
According to the BMJ, Dr. Wakefield’s article was “an elaborate fraud” in which he falsified information for “his landmark” study in which he claimed that the MMR (mumps, measles, rubella) vaccine caused autism.
2010 was apparently a good year, or at least a better one, for sharks:
Although many shark species are still at risk of extinction, around the world shark conservation advanced last year. In Washington on Tuesday, President Barack Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act of 2010, which increases protection for sharks from the practice of shark finning, by which fishermen cut the fins off sharks and throw them back into the sea to die.

Many vessels target sharks for their fins, prized as an ingredient in shark fin soup. The new law will close a loophole in the Shark Finning Prohibition Act of 2000 that allowed vessels to transport fins obtained illegally, as long as the sharks were not finned aboard that vessel.

U.S. renewable energy is now roughly equivalent with nuclear power:
According to data just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, nuclear energy generation and renewable energy generation both accounted for approximately 11% of the United States’ entire power supply in the first nine months of 2010.
Harpy eagles appear to be making a comeback:
Scientists have confirmed the presence of a harpy eagle nest in the Maya Mountains of Belize. The discovery represents the most northerly breeding pair in the Americas, and signals a comeback for a species which has become locally extinct in much of Central America due to human activity.
Italy has banned plastic shopping bags:

The government of Italy has become the first in the European Union to outlaw the use of plastic bags by all retailers, signaling a large shift in a country which uses over 20 billion bags per year (400 per person) — an amount equal to 25% of the total produced and used in the entire EU.

Also: More proof that the U.S. border fence is stupid. Photos of Tallinn for Cheryl. A video tour of the Smithsonian's Arcimboldo exhibition. And images from the world's largest cave:

Many, many liquor bottles. Photos by Rajeev. Hail Capricornia! Philadelphia murals. A journey through Cloudland. Ornette Coleman interviewed by Jacques Derrida. And colony morphology:

The Golden Throng. Photos by MariaVittoria Piana Brizio. A phonographic wedding ring. Thorpe Marsh power station. Seahorse sounds. Cryptoforestry. And photos by Léon Gimpel.

Plus, a short film.

(Image at top: "Highway and Byways" by Paul Klee, 1929.)