Friday, December 04, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

The Senate has passed the Women's Health Amendment to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) proposed this amendment...which will require all health care plans to cover women's comprehensive preventative care and screenings (like gyno exams, mammograms, STD testing and treatment and family planning) with no cost to women (or with limited co-pays)....

[T]he most significant thing about the Women's Health Amendment is that it could potentially save the lives of millions of low-income women who often skip basic health care exams and screenings because of added costs, says the National Women's Law Center. And that's huge.
Baltimore has passed a bill requiring crypto-religious "pregnancy centers" to inform prospective clients that they do not offer abortion information.
Just three councilmembers voted "no" to the limited pregnancy center bill. It requires all pregnancy centers that do not offer abortion information to post signs in English and Spanish to that effect.

If the mayor signs the legislation, they'd be required to put up a sign in the waiting room making it clear they don't offer the service.
A library in Ames, IA will continue to carry Sex, Etc., a magazine comprising sex ed info written by and for teens.
Free copies of a sex-education magazine for teens will still be available at the Ames Public Library despite a petition to have them removed.

The library board voted 6-1 Thursday to continue offering Sex, Etc., which is published three times a year by Rutgers University.
In Australia, boys in Victoria state schools "face compulsory feminism programs," in addition to their compulsory literature and math and history and science programs.
[The classes] would combat common attitudes among boys such as young women are either "good girls or sluts", the report said.

It said feminist theories were best at explaining the link between gender power relations and violence against women, and must underpin the programs.
Apparently, this proposal is controversial because there is "considerable community hostility to feminism, even among teachers and students." As always, it's unseemly to fight for equality by questioning the ideological underpinnings of inequality. Regardless, a pilot program is supposed to begin next year.

The Salvation Army has dropped a policy requiring parents to show proof of citizenship before receiving holiday toys for their children:
The charities' policies had attracted criticism from immigrant advocates, who charged they were punishing children for the actions of their parents by requiring such documentation.

Cesar Espinosa, a Houston immigrant advocate, said that the Salvation Army's decision to no longer ask for Social Security numbers for the Angel Tree program was “the right thing to do.”
The USDA has decertified an "organic" livestock operation:
[O]ne of the largest organic cattle producers in the United States, Promiseland Livestock, LLC, was suspended from organic commerce, along with its owner and key employees, for four years. The penalty was part of an order issued by administrative law judge Peter Davenport in Washington, DC on November 25.

Promiseland, a multimillion dollar operation with facilities in Missouri and Nebraska, including over 13,000 acres of crop land, and managing 22,000 head of beef and dairy cattle, had been accused of multiple improprieties in formal legal complaints, including not feeding organic grain to cattle, selling fraudulent organic feed and “laundering” conventional cattle as organic.
Incidentally, regulators were aware of these improprieties during the Bush administration, but "documents secured under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by The Cornucopia Institute indicate that the initial investigation was squashed for political reasons by Dr. Barbara Robinson, who until recently directed the USDA’s organic program."

Farmers' markets in NYC are increasingly accepting food stamps, and this is improving low-income residents' access to healthier food.
Food stamp sales from July to November, when the stamps are valid at the markets, doubled to $226,469 in 2009 from $100,772 in 2008, according to numbers released by the City Council on Sunday. While that is but a small fraction of the $200 million that New York’s surging food stamp population receives in benefits each month, it can represent a significant portion of business for farmers. In some low-income neighborhoods, food stamps can make up 70 percent to 80 percent of sales at the markets, according to the report.
All this time, I thought the urban poor ate potted meat and drank quarter water as a matter of personal preference. Go figure!

The EPA has withdrawn its pollution permit for the Black Mesa coal mine.
In response to an appeal brought by a diverse coalition of tribal and environmental groups, this week the Environmental Protection Agency withdrew a controversial water permit for the massive Black Mesa Coal Complex, a coal-mine complex located on Navajo Nation and Hopi lands in northeastern Arizona....

Nicole Horseherder of TO' Nizhoni Ani (Navajo for Beautiful Water Speaks), who lives 20 miles south of the Black Mesa Complex, said: “I am very happy about the EPA’s decision to withdraw the permit. I am glad to see a federal regulatory agency finally doing its job. In the course of our struggle to protect the water and bring awareness to the impacts of this coal-mining operation, we have never had such a favorable decision by any agency charged with regulating the impacts of Black Mesa.”
The National Marine Fisheries Services has proposed habitat protections for the Cook Inlet beluga whale, and all it took was the threat of a lawsuit.
The federal National Marine Fisheries Service today took an important step toward protecting critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the Cook Inlet beluga whale in Alaska by proposing to designate more than 3,000 square miles of the imperiled whale’s habitat for protection. The overdue proposal comes on the heels of a formal notice of intent to sue by the Center for Biological Diversity.
Rinderpest, a deadly cattle disease, is expected to be eradicated within 18 months.
When successful, the disease will become the second to be driven to practical extinction in the world. Smallpox, which was eradicated in 1980, was the first.

The disease, caused by the morbillivirus, has killed countless cattle since it was first introduced to the Roman Empire around 376 AD. It has also been responsible for severe famines, particularly in Africa, after decimating herds used for food and plowing.
An ecologist has discovered the world's smallest orchid.
The bloom has, for now, no name. "It's just sitting here with lots of others that need to be described," Jost said. "These forests are just filled with new things."

Speaking of new things, Inhabitat discusses solar-powered camel clinics:
Kenya’s camels recently started sporting some unusual apparel: eco-friendly refrigerators! Some of the African country’s camels are carrying the solar-powered mini fridges on their backs as part of a test project that uses camels as mobile health clinics. Organizers hope the eco-friendly transport system will provide a cheap, reliable way of getting much-needed medicines and vaccines to rural communities in Kenya and Ethiopia.
And Helsinki plans to use waste heat from an underground data center to heat 500 homes.
The new server farm will be located in the bedrock beneath Uspenski Cathedral, which places it in close proximity to the district heating network, which consists of an underground system of pipes filled with heated water. Heat from the servers will be captured and transferred to this network, which will then send it out to 500 homes throughout the city.

According to Reuters, data centers account for up to 30% of many corporations energy bills and 55-60% of that energy goes towards cooling costs. Helsinki’s new server farm stands to greatly reduce this cost while keeping the servers cool, so by all accounts it’s a win-win situation. The new data center is set to open in January 2010.
Also: Accidental geography. Photos by Nicholas Hance McElroy. One hundred days in Glacier National Park. Photos by Karl Struss and Ikko Narahara (both via wood s lot). And French children's books of the thirties and forties.

I've got a nervous breakdown to attend to, so I'll have to stop early and leave you with this short animated film (via The Bioscope).

Please feel free -- or better yet, obliged -- to post any heartening stories I missed in comments.

(Illustration at top: "Impression of Lightning" by Charles Burchfield, 1916.)


Cheryl Rofer said...

And my roadrunner has returned!

Phila said...

Great news, Cheryl!

Emphyrio said...

Here I was worried you'd hung up the blogging had and you dump a garbage truck of hope on us.

Great stuff. I appreciate it.

grouchomarxist said...

Roadrunners are cool -- and I'd be saying that even if I wasn't a Chuck Jones fan. I saw one years ago, sprinting across the road in a posh suburb of Palm Springs. (That was the bird sprinting, of course, not me.)

So glad you're back, Phila. I don't know about the rest of you, but I could use an extra-large dose of hope after this last week.

Phila said...

So glad you're back, Phila. I don't know about the rest of you, but I could use an extra-large dose of hope after this last week.

Yeah, it was overdue for me, too. (I'm not only the founder, I'm a client!)

Unfortunately, it'll have to hold you for a while. I'm diving head-first into the maelstrom this coming week, and will definitely not be able to handle next Friday's blogging-related program activities.

Maybe I'll schedule an empty post this weekend, so people can add links in comments. That hasn't worked in the past, but hope springs eternal! said...

Love the vintage French children's books ... somehow my family got two such books (my sister has them now) the most hilarious one being one with drawings of plates, spoons, and forks cavorting around.

Libby Spencer said...

Thrilled to find Friday Hope. Needed some as well. Thanks so much Phila. You're truly a national treasure for finding all these great links.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an inspiring link --but this one made me laugh out loud.