Maine is the fifth state to legalize same-sex marriage:
"Article I in the Maine Constitution states that 'no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law, nor be denied the equal protection of the laws, nor be denied the enjoyment of that person's civil rights or be discriminated against.'"Russian lawmakers have rejected a particularly demented anti-gay bill:
"This new law does not force any religion to recognize a marriage that falls outside of its beliefs. It does not require the church to perform any ceremony with which it disagrees. Instead, it reaffirms the separation of Church and State," Governor Baldacci said.
"It guarantees that Maine citizens will be treated equally under Maine's civil marriage laws, and that is the responsibility of government."
A bill that would have made it a criminal offense for anyone who “openly demonstrated a homosexual way of life and a homosexual orientation” to hold jobs in education or in the army has been defeated.Obama's budget eliminates funding for abstinence education:
The legislation would have mandated a sentence of from two to five years. It needed 226 votes to proceed - only 90 deputies voted for it.
President Obama’s 2010 budget, which was released today, May 7, 2009, eliminates funding for abstinence only programs and redirects funds to a new Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative....An Alabama school district has stopped segregating its classes by sex:
The elimination of funding for abstinence only programs is a huge victory. Abstinence only programs have no perceivable impact on teen sexual activity - young people who go through these programs are just as sexually active as their peers. Instead, the programs teach inaccurate information about contraception and decrease condom use and other safe sex practices . Further, they often teach a fundamentalist Christian worldview, encourage young people to fit into essentialist and offensive gender roles, and ignore or actively oppose homosexuality . Abstinence only programs waste government funds teaching a belief system rather than scientifically accurate information.
Back in December of last year, the ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project (WRP) and the ACLU of Alabama sent Open Records Act requests to nine school districts in Alabama requesting information about their sex-segregated programs. One district, the St. Clair County School System, asked the ACLU to testify at a Board of Education meeting on April 20. At that meeting, ACLU of Alabama staff attorney Allison Neal outlined how sex-segregated programs inevitably lead to inequality, and may violate Title IX of the Education Amendments, the Equal Education Opportunities Act and the Constitution.Duke Energy has pulled out of the National Association Of Manufacturers because of their denialist stance on global warming:
We received a letter from St. Clair yesterday, stating that it would end the single-sex education program at Odenville Middle School and would no longer offer single-sex education at any other school in the district for the 2009-2010 school year.
The National Association of Manufacturers is a right-wing trade organization that refuses to address — or even acknowledge — man-made global warming. Last month, it protested the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, stating that the “clean air laws” are supposed to only focus on “local pollutants.” It has also funded climate change denier groups and heavily lobbied against any efforts to curb emissions.(h/t: AndyMN.)
The organization’s resistance to change is getting to be too much for its members. Today, Bloomberg reports that Duke Energy Corp., which owns utilities in the Southeast and Midwest, announced that it won’t be renewing its membership with NAM, in part because of NAM’s refusal to address global warming
In related news, Ken Salazar doesn't seem to have figured out that oil shale production is not a very good idea. You can fill him in on the gory details by clicking here.
The Supreme Court has ruled that people who unknowingly use other people's Social Security numbers and identification cards can't be prosecuted for identity theft:
During the Bush Administration, the government prosecuted or threatened to prosecute hundreds of immigrant workers for aggravated identity theft even when there was no evidence that the worker knew that he or she was using false documents that belonged to another person. As the Supreme Court has now held, the government’s view contradicted the plain words of the statute, which requires knowledge.McDonald's has been forced to make amends to gay customers who were verbally abused at an outlet in Louisville, KY:
With the public and the commission’s eyes on them, McDonald’s finally backed down, agreeing to school its managers on Louisville’s anti-discrimination law and offering Ryan and Teddy $2,000 each, which they accepted. Originally, Ryan and Teddy had only asked for $28, the cost of the meals they and their friends bought on the day they were verbally abused. Would have been much cheaper and easier for them to just apologize and maybe tell their staff not to call paying customers “faggots,” don’t you think?The president of the health insurance industry's trade group has suggested that insurers may be willing to consider thinking about looking into the possibility of ending the practice of charging women more than men for insurance:
Women tend to pay higher premiums than men for health insurance. Insurers have argued this is because women tend to have higher health costs, particularly during the child-bearing years.The California tiger salamander is closer to gaining protection:
But as the feds scrutinize health care, that disparity has come under the spotlight; earlier this week, Massachusetts Dem John Kerry introduced a bill that would prohibit insurers from charging women more than men.
And testifying in the Senate yesterday, Karen Ignani, the president of the big trade group for health insurers, said she doesn't think gender should factor into women's rates when buying individual policies.
In response to a lawsuit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has agreed to reconsider critical habitat for the Sonoma County population of the California tiger salamander. In 2005, the Bush administration reduced proposed critical habitat acreage for the species from 74,000 to zero.A federal judge has ruled that GM crops shouldn't be planted in US wildlife refuges:
“The California tiger salamander in Sonoma County will finally receive the protection it desperately needs to survive,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The designation of zero acres of critical habitat for the salamander was characteristic of the Bush administration’s total disregard for the law and the nation’s wildlife.”
U.S. District Judge Gregory Sleet wrote that the Fish and Wildlife agency erred by failing to conduct environmental studies to determine whether farming with genetically modified crops at the Prime Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware was compatible with conservation and habitat preservation.The EU Assembly has voted to ban imports of seal products:
The Fish and Wildlife Service, Sleet wrote, does "not contest that their own biologists determined that these activities posed significant environmental risks to Prime Hook, including biological contamination, increased weed resistance and damage to
The European Parliament voted to ban European Union imports of seal products on Tuesday, a step Canada and Norway have said they will challenge in the world's top trade court.There's a growing trend towards siting farmers' markets at hospitals:
"This is what the citizens of Europe want," Arlene McCarthy, the British socialist who chairs parliament's internal market committee, told reporters.
The 15 seal species now hunted are not endangered but European politicians demanded action after finding what they said was evidence that many are skinned while still conscious.
We have right now a significant number of farmers who look to the institutional delivery of food as a real mainstay source of income for their families. And, on the economic side, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper, ultimately, to cook a healthy meal at home than it is to spend money on expensive packaged foods and processed foods. So we’ve got the connection to health, economics, and then there’s the obvious connection to the environment.BLDGBLOG discusses the lost wave motors of California:
Still embedded somewhere in the shores of California, buried by more than a century of sand, are lost hydroelectric machines....Precursors of today's interest in tide power, these were "wave motors" and mechanized basins that turned the coast into a series of timed catchment reservoirs. The landscape itself became a machine.Via Inhabitat, a building made of kitchen sinks.
One of the earliest patents filed for such technology was by Oakland resident Henry Newhouse in 1877. The purpose of his machine was "[t]o utilize the tide for a water-power," his patent text read, as quoted by the San Francisco-based Western Neighborhoods Project, "and preserve a continuous power by means of the arrangement of a reservoir to catch the water at high-tide, and a discharge-basin to let the water out at low tide and shut it out while the tide is rising."
Reclaimed kitchen sinks serve as the pavilion’s principle facade elements, which are held together with scaffolding, wire and waterproof multiplex boards. The airy structure is open on top to the sky and doesn’t feature any specific amenities inside, which makes it more of a community gathering place than a shelter. The building can also collect rainwater in a tank to water the nearby collective garden.
See also Ghost Power.
The Intertubes may make it easier to track public-health threats like H1N1:
Tapping the Internet - including personal Web searches, news reports, blogs, chat rooms and social networking sites - is fast becoming a way to get a complete, up-to-the-minute view of public health threats, say researchers from the Informatics Program at Children's Hospital Boston (CHIP) in a Perspectives article published Online First by The New England Journal of Medicine on May 7, 2009. In an accompanying sidebar, they describe the use of HealthMap.org - a freely available Web site that aggregates, categorizes, filters and displays real-time information on emerging infectious diseases - in tracking the current H1N1 swine flu outbreak.Michael Savage has been permabanned from the UK:
Michael Alan Weiner, a.k.a. Michael Savage, right-wing talk radio host, for “seeking to provoke others to serious criminal acts and fostering hatred.” The Home Office also noted that Savage’s “views on immigration, Islam, rape and autism have caused great offence in the US.”Collages by Mary Emma Hawthorne. The Catacombs of Rome in 3D. The poetry and prose of Jónas Hallgrímsson. Aerial views of North Dakota. And ground-level views of Crazy Embroidery.
The earthly remains of The Jumble Club. Everything you ever wanted to know about The Workhouse (via wood s lot). The Universe is a Haunted House, a photoblog from Estonia. Freeze Frame: Historic Polar Images, 1845-1982 (via Plep.)
30 Ways to Electrocute Yourself (via bre pettis). Nonsense infographics. Photos by Jan von Holleben. Original four-track masters by the Beatles. Ribambelles et Pliages. A collection of scientific illustrations.
And a cartoon, lovingly dedicated to the person it reminds me of.
(Photo at top: "Dark Markings near Theta Ophiuchi" from A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, Book I by Edward Barnard.)