Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

One of Edward Wegman's plagiarized papers has been withdrawn:

The Wegman work is part of a flurry of "analysis" (at least one expert derides this particular paper as "an opinion piece"), that Wegman and Said conducted on behalf of U.S. Congressman Joe Barton (R-Texas), who was using the material to attack the climate scientist Dr. Michael Mann.

If you haven't been following this very entertaining story, proceed immediately to Deep Climate.

Apropos of charlatans, Mark and David Geier, who've been promoting chemical castration as a treatment for children with autism, have finally gotten some attention from the medical establishment:
On Monday, May 16, 2011, the Maryland Board of Physicians charged Dr. Mark Geier with numerous violations of the Maryland Medical Practice Act, and charged his son, David Geier, with practicing medicine without a license. The charges come three weeks after the Board summarily suspended Dr. Geier’s license to practice medicine, in order to prevent harm to the many autistic children entrusted to his care.
Maryland has passed its own version of the DREAM Act:
While Democrats in the Senate are still getting their efforts together at passing the DREAM Act -- which just barely fell short of passage in January, despite a relentless campaign of remorseless lying waged by Republicans -- legislators in Maryland have shown them how it's done -- simply get it passed, and watch the nativist Republicans reveal themselves as the hollow, lying hatemongers they are in the process.
The Homeland Security Department will discontinue the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS):
The program consisted of a series of controls designed to collect information, fingerprints, and photographs of certain noncitizens entering and living in the United States, and to monitor their status and movement once within the country's borders. From its inception, it was determined that NSEERS would only target male noncitizens of a certain age from predesignated countries.

The program drew criticism from various civil and human-rights groups, members of Congress, and at least one committee of the United Nations. Specifically, NSEERS was censured for its focus primarily on nationals of Muslim-majority countries, its alleged inability to identify terrorist threats, and the strict legal and immigration consequences put in place for participant noncompliance.
The DHS will also extend protected status for Haitians:

“It’s really good news for the community. We were all holding our breath and waiting,” said Marleine Bastien, founding member and executive director of Fanm Ayisyen Nan Miyami, or Haitian Women of Miami. “Some of our clients were already getting very anxious because of their work permits.”

Indonesia has finally imposed a moratorium on logging permits:
[T]he moratorium is seen as an important step toward Indonesia meeting its commitment of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by at least 26 percent from a projected 2020 baseline. Indonesia is presently the third largest greenhouse gas emitter after China and the United States due primarily to degradation of peatlands and deforestation.
An animal thought to be extinct has made an appearance:
The red-crested tree rat (Santamartamys rufodorsalis) had not been recorded since 1898 and was thought possibly extinct—that is until one showed up at 9:30 PM on May 4th at a lodge in El Dorado Nature Reserve in northern Colombia.

"He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing," said Lizzie Noble, a British volunteer with Fundación ProAves a conservation group in Colombia focusing on birds.

Photo by Lizzie Noble/ProAves.
In the UK, butterfly populations seem to be making a rebound:
Although Britain's butterflies remain in long-term decline, the populations of three-quarters of threatened species increased in 2010. This change in fortunes has been put down to targeted conservation action, combined with better weather last year after a series of disastrously wet summers. Butterfly experts hope that if Britain experiences a similar summer this year, some of the country's most threatened species could continue to make a significant recovery.
In Hawaii, the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative will be forced to reduce its impact on seabirds:

“It’s unfortunate that two lawsuits were needed to get KIUC to take responsibility for its actions,” said Marjorie Ziegler of Conservation Council for Hawaii. “Corporations operating in Hawaii should understand their kuleana (responsibility) to protect our precious natural heritage.”

The permit requires the KIUC to carry out actions described in a “habitat conservation plan.” These include a schedule for the KIUC to lower its power lines, obscure them with fast-growing trees, or attach them to bridges to minimize bird fatalities in key flyways — Keälia, Hanapëpë, and Kapa‘a.

New York may ban cars from Central and Prospect parks:
The Regional Plan Association reported that closing the “Loop” in Central Park would force as few as 20 percent and as many as 60 percent of drivers to either change their mode of transportation or significantly modify their driving patterns, forcing people to reconsider driving as a luxury not a necessity.

The removal of cars from parks is not new. It has been on Mayor Bloomberg’s agenda since 2001 when he campaigned for the reduction in private automobile use and a complete removal of cars from parks. Parks in the city were originally car free, and if June’s board meeting goes as planned, the city could be one step closer to returning parks to their original state.

Speaking of Prospect Park, area residents and businesses have banded together to protect the park's geese from extemination:
A group of Brooklyn residents, business owners, and wildlife advocates have devised a program to stand guard over the Prospect Park geese at all hours of the day to prevent federal officials from using mass extermination methods as a way of maintaining the geese population. Armed with binoculars, cameras, and video recording equipment, the pro-geese group is determined to prevent another massacre like last summer’s.
Wuxtry, wuxtry! The California Chamber of Commerce frequently says things that are not true:
The chamber continues to promote its job killer list, despite the fact that its dire warnings of economic doom have been consistently wrong. And it does so despite the fact that Californians broadly support laws and protections that have made our air cleaner, our workplaces safer and our families more secure.
Research into the excretory behavior of forest-dwelling Ursidae is ongoing.

Deseret Chemical Depot has destroyed its stockpile of mustard gas (h/t: Cheryl):

The last of the bulk mustard gas stored at Deseret Chemical Depot in Tooele County was destroyed Monday, a milestone for the facility that has been incinerating aging munitions since 1996....

In addition, the depot also plans to destroy in coming months lewisite, a blistering agent, and GA, a World War II-era nerve agent recovered from German stockpiles.

Furthermore, in summation and notwithstanding: Student assignments and the Rapture. A Milky Way panorama. A gravity map. Unfortunate corporate logos. Bricks of the past. A gallery of monster toys, complete with battery-operated yeti. And homemade dams:

The National Jukebox is a new project from the Library of Congress. The Bioscope has already compiled a playlist of songs relating to early cinema. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find any songs about early American monorails:

Visual indexes. Vintage cereal boxes. A map of Kibera (via things). Matchbooks. Portuguese book covers. Indian dragonflies. The complete works of Hassan Fathy. The Morton D. Barker Paperweight Collection. And scenes from General Carerra Lake (here's a soundtrack to go with it).

Also, not only that, but a movie as well, too. (Don't try this at home! Unless you feel like it.)

(Photo at top by Saul Leiter, 1957.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

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.

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 reforestation efforts seem to be working:
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....

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.
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."

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:

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.

Reason #312 that chimpanzees are more qualified than John Boehner to be Speaker of the House:

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.)