Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

Word on this street is, Eric Cantor is attempting to humanize himself. It's the usual patter for the usual rubes: he dotes on his children, is happiest among his flowers &c. For some reason, this reminds me of the memoir I once read by a German camp guard, in which he said something like "no prisoner can truly say he was ever ill-treated in my home." Surely, this good man's reward will be great in Heaven.

Paul Ryan is also a tragically misunderstood champion of the downtrodden. Here, he informs us that "the safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams and no one in Washington seems to care." (See that guy over there? He wants to steal your money! I'll hold your wallet while you kick his ass.)

Not exactly a cheery opening, I know. But sometimes, it's good to remember that it's better to lose than to be like the "winners."

In Yemen, women are burning their veils:

Thousands of women gathered in the capital, Sanaa, said witnesses. They carried banners that read: "Saleh the butcher is killing women and is proud of it" and "Women have no value in the eyes in Ali Saleh."

They collected their veils and scarves in a huge pile and set it ablaze -- an act that is highly symbolic in the conservative Islamic nation, where women use their veils to cover their faces and bodies. It's the first time in the nine months of Yemen's uprising that such an event has occurred.

One of Gov. Rick Scott's revenue streams seems to have dried up:

The court reaffirmed that testing urine for drugs is a search, that application for a public benefit cannot depend on an unconstitutional condition, and that the state of Florida had fallen woefully short of establishing any need to conduct suspicionless testing.

The judge's order also chastised the Florida legislature for failing to heed lessons it should have learned in a state-commissioned pilot study of TANF recipients in Florida: they are no more likely to use illegal drugs than the population at large.

In related news, a Missouri judge has ruled that "Linn State Technical College’s mandatory drug-testing policy is patently unconstitutional":
[T]he school had implemented mandatory, suspicionless drug-testing of all incoming students, as well as students who were returning to school after an extended absence. The policy came with little warning and a $50 price tag per test – paid by the students. In implementing the policy, Linn State sought foolishly to go where no public college had gone before – and where we hope none will go in the future, thanks to the judge’s ruling.
A federal judge has dismissed Jan Brewer's frivolous lawsuit against the gummint:

The Republican governor was seeking a court order that would require the federal government to take extra steps, such as more border fencing, to protect Arizona until the border is controlled.

Bolton said Brewer’s claim that Washington has failed to protect Arizona from an “invasion” of illegal immigrants was a political question that isn’t appropriate for the court to decide.

Scientists have apparently found a therapy for the Hendra virus:

A new treatment for the deadly Hendra virus has proven successful in primate tests — a major step forward in combating the virus, which kills about 60 percent of those it infects and has been implicated in sporadic outbreaks in Australia ever since it was first identified in 1994.

The BLE has blocked new uranium mining near the Grand Canyon for 20 years:

The announcement confirmed that the Obama administration was proceeding with a plan that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in July and is expected to make final in 30 days. The decision withdraws a right to Western public lands that mining companies otherwise would have under the 1872 Mining Law

Here's yet another reason that Arctic drilling is a bad idea:
A study in the Alaskan Arctic, employing camera traps, has shown that oil drilling impacts migrating birds in an unexpected way. The study found that populations of opportunistic predators, which prey on bird eggs or fledglings, may increase in oil drilling areas, putting extra pressure on nesting birds.
Leaded gasoline has been almost completely phased out worldwide:
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), working with NRDC in the Partnership for Clean Fuels and Vehicles, today announced toxic lead has been removed from gasoline in more than 175 countries worldwide, representing near-global eradication. A new, independent scientific analysis shows the result of this achievement is a 90 percent drop in blood lead levels worldwide, as well as 1.2 million lives saved each year and $2.4 trillion generated in health, social and economic benefits annually.
The UN predicts that the fuel will be totally eliminated by 2013.

A number of banks have decided not to impose monthly fees for debit card use. However, they would like it known that this decision comes from a purely inward communion with the Absolute, and should not be taken to imply that consumer pressure works:

J.P. Morgan joins U.S. Bancorp, Citigroup Inc., PNC Financial Services Group Inc., KeyCorp and other large banks that have said in recent days that they won't impose monthly fees on debit cards. None of those banks said they made their decisions because of the outcry over Bank of America's fees.

This world is adorned in diverse ways, decorated with rare ornaments:
Imagine a one-celled organism the size of a mango. It's not science fiction, but fact: scientists have cataloged dozens of giant one-celled creatures, around 4 inches (10 centimeters), in the deep abysses of the world's oceans. But recent exploration of the Mariana Trench has uncovered the deepest record yet of the one-celled behemoths, known as xenophyophores.
Jack the Cat has turned up alive and well:

"Jack the Cat" is back from his two-month foray into the netherworld of JFK Airport in the New York City suburbs, the New York Post and other news organizations report.

The feisty feline, who gained international attention, escaped after owner Karen Pascoe checked him in at American Airlines to relocate to California....

Aviation staffers at JFK captured Jack on Tuesday as he tumbled through the ceiling tiles inside a Customs and Border Patrol room, the Post reports.

(h/t: Cheryl.)

There'd be more, but Blogger ate about a quarter of this post and I don't have the time or patience to rebuild it. Honest!

Books in books. Family planning posters from China. Drugs from the colonies. Leaves. The iconography of the ornamental map. The Society for Commercial Archaeology. The plural of Texas. An 18th-c. fold-in. An admonitory revenant. Native American audio collections. And Saturn's moons and rings.

(Photo at top by S. Gayle Stevens.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

The FBI is finally updating its definition of rape:

The Uniform Crime Report Subcommittee voted unanimously to change the definition of rape, which had not been changed for 80 years (!) and rape will now be defined as, “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.”
San Francisco will require CPCs to stop lying:
On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to approve a city ordinance that would prevent crisis pregnancy centers from spreading false or misleading advertisements about their facilities. The ordinance requires that crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) display signs indicating whether they offer comprehensive reproductive health services, including abortions and contraception, and whether a licensed medical professional is on staff.
Speaking of which, Rick Santorum has vowed to put an end to contraception if elected, on the grounds that "it’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” There was a time when this might have been an attention-grabbing stance, but as the Right thrusts itself ever deeper into the nether regions of sexual delirium, Santorum's in danger of being Left Behind. Who needs him when we've got Mark Driscoll?
[M]asturbation can be a form of homosexuality because it is a sexual act that does not involve a woman.
It's clearly time to bring back Dr. Moodie's apparatus for boys! If leather-and-chrome genital bondage devices can't stop this nation's epidemic of perversion, what on earth can? It'll create jobs, too: We've got a country full of unemployed steampunk designers who've been dying for an opportunity like this.

Anyway. An Oklahoma judge has blocked a particularly stupid and brutal anti-abortion law:

The temporary injunction prevents the bill from going into effect on Nov. 1. Passed earlier this year by the GOP-controlled Legislature and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin, the measure requires doctors to follow the strict guidelines and protocols authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and prohibits off-label uses of the drugs. It also requires doctors to examine the women, document certain medical conditions and schedule follow-up appointments.

Opponents of the measure say the off-label use of drugs — such as changing a recommended dosage or prescribing it for different symptoms than the drug was initially approved for — is common, and that the measure would prevent doctors from using their best medical judgment.

And a federal judge has blocked a DoE uranium-leasing plan on Colorado public lands:
In a major victory for clean air, clean water and endangered species on public lands, a federal judge on Tuesday halted the Department of Energy’s 42-square-mile uranium-leasing program that threatened the Dolores and San Miguel rivers in southwestern Colorado. Five conservation groups had sued to halt the leasing program, charging that the Department of Energy was failing to adequately protect the environment or analyze the full impacts of renewed uranium mining on public lands.
Apple apparently has some interesting solar technology patents:

The US Patent and Trademark Office just revealed that Apple has been granted 20 new patents which focus on next generation solar technology. According to PatentlyApple, the patents not only cover solar technology being used to extend the battery lives of personal devices, but will also see the development of a cool new product – a specialized back panel reflector that uses sunlight to illuminate laptop screens.

California has approved cap-and-trade regulations:

The most populous U.S. state is moving ahead with the plan years after federal regulators rejected a similar idea for the nation, partly on concerns of the effect on businesses.

The California Air Resources Board voted 8-0 to adopt the market regulations, which officials said are critical to the state's goal of cutting carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 -- about a 22 percent reduction from forecasted business-as-usual output.

A Koch-funded climate study group has driven yet another stake into Anthony Watts' shriveled heart:

Watts had famously promised “I’m prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong"....

But BEST just released a whole paper devoted to debunking Watts’ life work – his effort to smear climate scientists by accusing them of knowingly using bad temperature stations to rig their results.

Shockingly, Watts is not actually prepared to accept their results.

Nearly 300 large investors are clamoring for a climate treaty:

The group of 285 investors issued a joint statement emphasizing the urgent need for policy action which stimulates private sector investment in climate change solutions, creates jobs, and ensures the long-term sustainability and stability of the world economic system.

The statement represents the largest group, by both number of signatories and assets under management, ever to call for policy action on climate change. Signatories to the statement include financial institutions, state treasurers, controllers, pension fund leaders, asset managers, insurance groups, faith groups and foundations worldwide.
A federal judge in Brazil has ruled against the Belo Monte dam:
The environmental license for the controversial Belo Monte dam violates the constitutional rights of indigenous communities and is therefore illegal, ruled a federal judge in Brazil on Monday.

Judge Selene Maria de Almeida concluded that the 2005 decree that authorized the dam is illegal because Congress failed to carry out a consultation process with communities that will be affected by the dam. The consultation process is a right guaranteed to indigenous communities under Brazil's constitution.
Michelle Bachmann's NH staff has quit en masse:
Pindell scoops that Michele Bachmann's entire paid campaign team - roughly a half-dozen staffers - in New Hampshire has quit out of frustration with the campaign.

They were going to do it even earlier, he reports, but didn't because it would have harmed the candidate.

More schadenfreude, courtesy of Herman Cain and Marco Rubio.

Last, rumor has it that we may actually leave Iraq. I know intellectually that this is a good thing, but it doesn't make me feel much of anything beyond dull rage.

President Obama will address reports that all U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of year in a statement scheduled for 12:45PM ET. President Obama's statement comes following a discussion he had with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Last week, reports indicated that the U.S. had abandoned plans to keep forces in Iraq past the December 31 withdrawal deadline and various cable reports now are indicating the decision has been finalized. 40,000 troops are currently in Iraq.

The Turconi Project (via The Bioscope). A throwable panoramic camera. Photos by Kim Keever (via Coudal). Jeu d’Herbes Medicinales. Photos of former battlefields by Peter Hebeisen. Images from Niels Klim's journey underground. The Light of Modernity in Buenos Aires (via wood s lot). Old and Interesting, "a history of domestic paraphernalia." Retro Tesco. Nigerian traffic control. Optical effects of special relativity. Ice cream and architectural loss. Russian postcards of St. Petersburg. Fire and smoke. And photographs by Ferdinand von Hochstetter:

(Photo at top: "Wendelstein" by Peter Keetman, 1950. Via Luminous Lint.)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

This morning's planned eviction of Occupy Wall Street has been called off:

A confrontation between Occupy Wall Street demonstrators and New York City police was avoided after Brookfield Office Properties Inc. postponed cleaning its Zuccotti Park in Lower Manhattan, where the protesters have been camping out for almost a month.

Donate. Send food. Get involved.

A church in San Jose, CA has withdrawn all its money from Bank of America:
Father Eduardo Samaniego announced that the parish is moving its $3 million account with Bank of America, where the church has done business for at least 20 years, to a community credit union.
In related news:

Remember back in August after the phoney "debt ceiling crisis" that the GOP ginned up? Standard and Poor's (S&P) downgraded the credit ranking of the United States. Two other rating agencies, Moody's and Fitch's, did NOT follow suit.

This morning comes news however that Fitch's has downgraded the Viability Rating to NEGATIVE of.....Bank of America!

November 5 is Bank Transfer Day. About time, too. Now, if we can just get people to cancel their cable service and send the monthly fees to Planned Parenthood....

Apropos of which, Phill Kline may lose his law license:

A professional ethics panel recommended Thursday that former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline have his state law license suspended indefinitely over his conduct during criminal investigations of abortion providers, saying he was “motivated by dishonesty and selfishness.”

Yahoo has pulled out of the US Chamber of Commerce:
Politico’s Morning Tech reported that tech-giant Yahoo “has quietly left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.” The company wouldn’t give a reason for its departure, but has been clashing with the Chamber over the PROTECT IP Act, a bill that would limit activities on websites accused of using copyrighted material. According to U.S. Chamber Watch, more than 50 local Chambers of Commerce and a dozen major corporations “have abandoned or disavowed the U.S. Chamber for their radical positions and pay-to-play model.”
A number of media outlets seem to have developed some form of rudimentary spine:
As of this morning, 30 Ohio television stations had pulled the deceptive ad supporting the state's Issue 2, which would limit collective bargaining for public workers. The ad takes footage from an ad opposing Issue 2 and makes it appear as if the woman in the original ad supports the measure. Building a Better Ohio, the Republican group that released the deceptive ad, has insisted that it was totally kosher to appropriate the woman's image and words and reverse their meaning.
In California, Jerry Brown has finally signed the Fair Treatment for Farm Workers Act:

United Farm Workers President Arturo S. Rodriguez praised the governor’s decision to sign the bill stating, “Today, Governor Brown helped farm workers take their biggest step forward yet in the cause of fair treatment for farm workers by approving his proposal put into legislation by Sen. Steinberg. Under SB 126, if growers cheat during an election campaign, break the law and deny farm workers their right to have a union, then the Agricultural Labor Relations Board can certify the union.”

Brown also banned the shark fin trade:
California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill on Friday, that bans any sale, trade and possession of shark fins. The bill, which will come into effect on Jan. 1, 2012, was promulgated to protect the dwindling shark population.
Australia's proposed carbon tax has survived a crucial vote:
By a margin of just two votes (74-72), Australia's plan to put a price on carbon passed its toughest hurdle today. It is now expected that the Australian legislator will moved forward to put the carbon tax into law. The carbon tax, pushed aggressively by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, was just as ferociously opposed by business leaders and opposition party leader, Tony Abbott.
Trouble in paradise:

A Tennessee lawmaker who is a major proponent of legislation allowing gun owners to carry firearms in bars was arrested on Tuesday and charged with driving under the influence and possession of a handgun while under the influence, Davidson County Sheriff's Office confirmed to TPM.

One of the top executives at the European branch of the Wall Street Journal, the flagship newspaper at Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corporation, has resigned amid a growing scandal that has called into question the paper’s journalistic ethics and jeopardized its reputation. Adding to the scandals News Corp. is already facing in Europe — alleged phone hacking, bribing of public officials — and a potential criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department, the Guardian reported today that Andrew Langhoff, the European director of Dow Jones and Co. (the subsidiary of News Corp. that owns the Journal), oversaw a massive scam that artificially inflated the circulation numbers in Europe in order to avoid losing investors, readers, and advertisers.
Also: Experimental Philosophy: Old and New. The voice of the turtle is heard in the land. Made in Czechoslovakia. The Book of Fixed Stars and other Treasures of the Bodleian. And some transparent playing cards, just in case we need to be reminded that "wolves never devour each other":

Donate. Send food. Get involved.