I can only spare an hour or so to write this feature this week, so I'm afraid it won't be as long as usual. I hope to make up for it next week! In the meantime, if you have any good news, feel free to post it in the comments.
Miami has approved a domestic partnership ordinance:
The City of Miami will now extend the same health benefits to the declared domestic partners and children of city employees that are granted to heterosexual employees of the city.A courageous doctor has announced his plan to carry on George Tiller's work in Oklahoma:
“Providing employment benefits, including healthcare, to the domestic partners of our City of Miami employees is a common sense idea that has been far too long in coming. This is nothing more than treating people equally,” said Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. “I am proud to say our City is doing the right thing.”
A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.The federal government is taking steps to protect Hawaiian monk seals:
Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted "there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon."
The federal government will designate critical habitat for endangered Hawaiian monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands and expand protected habitat in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Its finding, to be published in tomorrow’s Federal Register, comes in response to a petition filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, and Ocean Conservancy. The Hawaiian monk seal is among the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with a population of approximately 1,200. According to the finding, protection of beach habitat that supports resting, birthing, and raising pups, and marine habitat for foraging is essential for the conservation of the monk seals.In related news, a judge has ruled in favor of increasing ESA protections for species in Southern California forests:
Monday a federal judge ruled that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service violated the Endangered Species Act in preparing the biological opinions for the four Southern California forest plans. The ruling covers each of the four Southern California national forests — the Angeles, Cleveland, Los Padres, and San Bernardino, which cover more than 3.5 million acres of lands in Southern California. These forests are recognized as one of the most biologically rich areas on the planet, and were established to provide clean drinking water to the region.Canada has dramatically expanded one of its national parks:
“This ruling is a great victory for the rare and endangered species that call the Southern California forests home,” said Ileene Anderson, a biologist with the Center for Biological Diversity. “These rare plants and animals are all currently moving toward extinction, and they need help – help that the federal agencies should have provided but chose not to during the Bush administration. We can now start making sure they’re properly protected.”
The government of Canada and the Dehcho First Nation announced today the expansion of Nahanni National Park from 1,865 square miles (4,830 square kilometers) to 12,000 square miles (31,080 square kilometers), over six times its original size.Conservation measures have increased the population of Lear's macaw
"Nahanni is one of the great natural areas in the world," said Dr. John Weaver. "The previous boundary was too narrow and too small for these big animals, and this expansion will protect critical habitat for
Due to effective conservation measures the parrot’s population has reached nearly a thousand birds (up from a low of just a hundred individuals in 1989), and therefore was moved down the list, from Critically Endangered to Endangered.Afghanistan has created its first list of protected species:
"The fight to save Lear’s Macaw is far from over, but the news that it is being downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered is a clear indication that hard work is paying off," said George Fenwick, President of American Bird Conservancy (ABC), which has worked tirelessly to save Lear’s Macaw.
Thirty-three species are included in Afghanistan’s first-ever listing of protected wildlife. Well-known animals like the snow leopard, wolves, and brown bears received full legal protection from hunting and harvesting alongside lesser-known species like the paghman salamander, goitered gazelle, and Himalayan elm tree.Text messaging is improving medical outcomes in the developing world:
In the developing world, most communities don’t have access to a hospital, let alone a doctor. Valiant community health workers sometimes serve rural villages, but they don’t have the training or technology to assist with major medical problems. The distance between village and hospital, both in terms of travel and communication, often spells doom for residents. But FrontlineSMS:Medic is aiming to change that. It operates through a system called FrontlineSMS, which allows text messages to be sent to multiple users on one computer. With the Medic software, community health workers can text a hospital with a question about, say, a malaria patient and get a quick response. On the other end, hospitals don’t have to waste valuable time and resources sending doctors into the field when they don’t have to.The Uighurs detained at Guantanamo have been accepted by Palau:
Pelau's president President Johnson Toribiong has earned the gratitude of the United States and a $200 million dollar "donation" from Washington through the soon-to-be renewed U.S.-Palau cooperation treaty.And with that, I just have time to make a dash for the exit. Shadow art created from piles of rubbish. A dog with a pipe in its mouth, among other things. Scrapbooks by Stan Brakhage. A photographic illustration of Oranges and Lemons (via Coudal). Images of braided pollen streams. And the science of paleolandscapes.
Kudos to the diplomats who brokered this deal and to the sane, compassionate people of Palau.
Also, here's a cartoon from 1930.
(Photo at top: "Butterfly, Scales on Wing - Lepidoptera, Admiral. Vanessa Atalanta (Schuppen auf einem Schmetterlingsflügel" by Carl Strüwe, 1928.)