Forty-one Democratic representatives have vowed to vote against the healthcare reform bill if it contains the Stupak-Pitts amendment:
As Members of Congress we believe that women should have access to a full range of reproductive health care. Health care reform must not be misused as an opportunity to restrict women’s access to reproductive health services.While we're on the subject, you might considering donating some money to Lois Herr, who's running against Joe Pitts in PA-16.
The Stupak-Pitts amendment to H.R. 3962, The Affordable Healthcare for America Act, represents an unprecedented and unacceptable restriction on women’s ability to access the full range of reproductive health services to which they are lawfully entitled. We will not vote for a conference report that contains language that restricts women’s right to choose any further than current law.
Since I've been fretting that solidarity seems to be somewhat unfashionable on the left these days, I was pleased to learn from AndyG that a ten-year-old boy in Arkansas refuses to stand for the pledge of allegiance because America denies LGBT citizens equal rights:
“I've always tried to analyze things because I want to be lawyer,” Will said. “I really don't feel that there's currently liberty and justice for all.”Apparently, some of the other kids call him a "gaywad," but it doesn't seem to faze him. Maybe the Democrats can hire him as a strategist.
Meanwhile, the Mormon Church has come out in favor of a gay rights ordinance.
The Mormon Church has been a target of vituperation by some gay rights groups because of its active opposition to same-sex marriage. But on Wednesday, the church was being praised by gay rights activists in Salt Lake City, citadel of the Mormon world, for its open support of a local ordinance banning discrimination against gay men and lesbians in housing and employment.The American Medical Association has announced that it opposes the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, on the grounds that it contributes to health disparities:
The ordinance, which passed unanimously Tuesday night, made Salt Lake the first city in Utah to offer such protections. While the measure probably had majority backing on the seven-member City Council anyway, the church’s support was seen by gay activists as a thunderclap that would resonate across the state and in the overwhelmingly Mormon legislature, where even subtle shifts in church positions on social issues can swing votes and sentiments.
The health disparities policy is based on evidence showing that married couples are more likely to have health insurance, and that the uninsured have a high risk for "living sicker and dying younger," said Dr. Peter Carmel, an AMA board member.Clorox has announced that it will stop using chlorine gas in the manufacture of bleach.
Same-sex families lack other benefits afforded married couples, including tax breaks, spouse benefits under retirement plans and Social Security survivor benefits – all of which can put their health at risk, according to an AMA council report presented at the meeting.
The company will convert its Fairfield, Calif., plant within the next six months and switch its six other U.S. plants over the coming years.This is significant not just from the safety standpoint, but also because it represents the failure of a massive PR effort to paint a chlorine phaseout as a one-way ticket to some sort of gay Stone Age gulag.
Clorox’ announcement came three days before the House of Representatives was set to take up plant security legislation (H.R. 2868) that would require high-risk chemical plants and water-treatment facilities to use safer processes or chemicals.
In related news, the White House has refused to rescind its decision to ban lobbyists from serving on government advisory boards, despite recent pressure from an industry trade group. White House special counsel Norm Eisen explains:
[W]e decided that while lobbyists have a right to petition the government, it would best serve the interests of a fairer and more representative democracy if we limited their ability to do so from special positions of privileged access within the government....We informed them that while we will always seek ways to improve good policies, we do not intend to rescind this decision.The US and Japan are discussing "the possibility of forming a special bilateral pact...to address environmental damage at U.S. military bases in Japan."
The proposed special environmental pact is aimed at allowing Japanese authorities to conduct effective on-site inspections at U.S. bases and to establish procedures for preventing and eliminating pollution. More information will be disclosed to ease the anxiety of local residents.US scientists are visiting Cuba to discuss environmental issues.
EDF scientists and policy experts and Cuban scientists and environmental officials will have a series of meetings about how the United States and Cuba can work together to protect ocean waters and marine resources shared by the two countries. The meetings come on the heels of a September visit to the United States by Cuban environmental officials.If further evidence is needed that elections have consequences, the new head of the National Park Service actually seems to believe in science.
[Jonathan] Jarvis says parks could sequester carbon, serve as sanctuaries for species facing extinction, and bring to public attention the ways global warming is transforming the environment....That sounds good to me. And so does this:
His first priority...is to ensure that peer-reviewed science plays a foundational role in management decisions, especially in confronting climate change.
During his career, Jarvis has backed removal of dams blocking salmon streams near Olympic National Park in Washington. He reduced development around Crater Lake National Park in Oregon to improve water quality. And he got into hot water recently with US Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) of California for fighting a commercial oyster operation in a bay at Point Reyes National Seashore because he believed it would harm the marine ecosystem.The DoI says that the brown pelican has recovered from the effects of DDT:
The brown pelican was first declared endangered in 1970. Since then, thanks to a ban on DDT and efforts by states, conservation organizations, private citizens and many other partners, the bird has recovered. There are now more than 650,000 brown pelicans found across Florida and the Gulf and Pacific Coasts, as well as in the Caribbean and Latin America.
As part of her plan to impose envirofascist Islamo-Marxism on the United States, Michelle Obama has installed beehives on the White House lawn (h/t: Xan).
Numbering more than 65,000 at one point, the bees produced a bumper crop of honey this year, the first time honey has ever been made on White House grounds. The hive, located on the South Lawn, is a key part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s organic kitchen garden project.If she were a real American, she would've chosen a ruggedly individualistic insect like the leaf-cutter bee. Jonah Goldberg is probably working out the allegorical implications as we speak.
The total haul was 134 pounds of honey, or roughly 11 gallons.
A slum in Peru is getting the water it needs by harvesting fog:
When the netting traps the fog, water droplets run down it into a small aluminum gutter on the panel’s edge. Water keeps collecting until it runs—aided by gravity and drain canals—down to cement storage tanks that lie halfway down the local hill.In Kenya, bio-gas systems are improving sanitation and lowering cooking costs:
The benefits are huge and multifaceted. Part of the water is channeled to a vegetable garden where vegetables and spices are grown. Most, though, is kept in ground-level storage tanks for residents to use at home for cooking, cleaning, and bathing.
Running water and sanitation facilities are virtually non-existent in slums like Kibera, where most people earn less than $1 a day. Human waste in plastic bags is often dumped on roads, alleys and gutters.And a program in India is teaching people in rural villages to build and install solar panels and lanterns:
But locals say there has been a dramatic reduction in these so-called "flying toilets" since the bio-gas center was constructed two years ago.
The initiative makes a lot of sense – rather than dropping down solar technology from above, teach those who will use it how it works and they’ll be able to repair it, will pass the information on to others in need, and will benefit from the green jobs that are created. The Orissa Tribal Empowerment & Livelihoods Programme (funded by the UK’s Department for International Development) also stands to increase the availability of renewable energy, reduce dependence on volatile fossil fuels, and cut down on the use of dangerous kerosene lamps.The Electric Power Research Institute points out that a smart grid could reduce energy loss:
U.S. transmission and distribution grids lose about 300 billion kilowatt hours of power to inefficiencies every year, EPRI says. That adds up to about 7 percent to 10 percent of the country's electricity generation capacity – and it's been growing over the decades, said Karen Forsten, EPRI program manager.A 24-hour solar power system designed in the 1980s is getting a second chance:
Forsten is leading a newly launched EPRI research program with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and utilities and grid operators to find ways to fix those losses for transmission systems.
Here’s how it works: An array of mirrors called heliostats focuses sunlight on a receiver filled with molten salt; the stored heat can produce steam to run a solar power plant 24/7—the elusive Holy Grail of solar energy. The technology, cast off as a non-commercial curiosity in the age of $18-a-barrel oil, is now being revived and could make Rocketdyne and its parent company, United Technologies, a big player in green tech.Furthermore and notwithstanding: curves and grids. Bird photos by Andrew Zuckerman. A new life for bumper cars. Art of the New Deal. Postcards from the Archives of American Gardens. Illustrations by Robert Samuel Hanson. The Geneva Carbarn and Powerhouse. And some evocative photos from the NYC subway system at Express Train.
A Santa Monica startup called SolarReserve — founded by, yes, rocket scientists from Rocketdyne — has licensed the solar power tower technology....The company was in the news last week when it filed an application with California regulators to build a 150-megawatt solar power plant in the Sonoran Desert east of Palm Springs. The Rice Solar Energy Project will be able to store seven hours of the sun’s heat so it can be released when it’s cloudy or at night to create steam that drives an electricity-generating turbine. Future versions of the solar farm will be able to store up to 16 hours of solar energy.
Home movie reconstructions (via things). Hawaiian beaches. Books that influenced, or were influenced by, Hooke's Micrographia. The Long Duration Exposure Facility (via but does it float). Advice on How to Make Friends by Telephone. Photos by the Goodridge Brothers. And via Plep, Japanese postcards celebrating the Year of the Monkey.
Folly, Fraud, Fakery (for those who didn't get their fill this week). Les Champignons. Posters for the films of Robert Bresson. Audio and video from The John Marshall Ju/'hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection. A collection of transit posters from 1920s Chicago. The Literature of Prescription. And various attempts at Capturing Canada on paper and canvas.
Last, the Voyager Golden Record.
(Photo at top by Sol LeWitt, 1977. Via Luminous Lint.)