Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

The US Department of Labor has affirmed the right of LGBT employees to take family leave:

"No one who loves and nurtures a child day-in and day-out should be unable to care for that child when he or she falls ill," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "No one who steps in to parent a child when that child's biological parents are absent or incapacitated should be denied leave by an employer because he or she is not the legal guardian. No one who intends to raise a child should be denied the opportunity to be present when that child is born simply because the state or an employer fails to recognize his or her relationship with the biological parent. These are just a few of many possible scenarios. The Labor Department's action today sends a clear message to workers and employers alike: All families, including LGBT families, are protected by the FMLA."
New York has passed a bill protecting students from harassment based on sexual orientation:
The Dignity for All Students Act, which would protect LGBT students from bullying and harassment in schools, has passed the New York state senate after years of effort. Gov. David Paterson is expected to sign the bill into law, which would mark the first time gender identity and expression are included in state law.
New York will also allow victims of sex trafficking to clear their criminal records:
The landmark legislation--New York's law is the first in the country--will allow trafficking survivors to start their lives over with a clean slate. As it stands, women who've been abused for years are then forced to disclose their criminal convictions to potential employers.

"Even after [the victims] escape from trafficking, that criminal record blocks them from decent jobs and a chance to rebuild their lives," says Democratic Assemblyman Richard Gottfried of Manhattan, the author of the bill. "This bill will give them a desperately needed second chance they deserve.”

The Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled against fetal personhood:
The Kentucky Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a fetus...cannot be treated as a separate legal person.

In the case, Ina Cochran v. Commonwealth of Kentucky (PDF), Cochran was indicted for first-degree wanton endangerment after both she and her newborn child tested positive for cocaine in December 2005. The Kentucky Supreme Court found her charge to be in contradiction to the Maternal Health Act of 1992 and dismissed her indictment.
An FDA advisory panel has approved a French contraceptive pill for use in the United States:
A US health panel Thursday voted unanimously to allow the sale of a controversial French birth control pill, which can prevent pregnancy for up to five days after unprotected sex.
A Texas court has upheld the state education board's rejection of degrees in Creation Science.
The Texas Education Code (Sec. 61.301) authorizes the Board to regulate the use of "academic terminology" in order "to prevent deception of the public resulting from the conferring and use of fraudulent or substandard college and university degrees." The Board denied ICRGS's application because its curriculum which was designed to promote "scientific creationism" and "Biblical creationism" does not adequately cover the breadth of knowledge of the discipline taught. The Board's decision was based on the conclusion by the Commissioner of Higher Education that the school's program "inadequately covers key areas of science and their methodologies and rejects one of the foundational theories of modern science," and thus "cannot be properly designated as either 'science' or 'science education.'"

The court rejected ICRGS' claim that the Board engaged in "viewpoint discrimination", finding no animus toward any religious viewpoint. Applying a "rational basis" standard, the court rejected claims that the Board violated ICRGS' free exercise and free speech rights, as well as claims under the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. The court concluded that the Board's "decision is rationally related to the State's legitimate interest in protecting the public by preserving the integrity of educational degrees."
The EPA will review its Bush-era policies regarding the testing of pesticides on humans:

In 2006, during the Bush administration, the EPA imposed a rule that allows experiments in which people are intentionally dosed with pesticides to assess the chemicals' toxicity and allows EPA to use such experiments to set allowable exposure standards....

Under the proposed changes to federal research ethics standards, the EPA would no longer accept such studies. If the EPA stops accepting them, corporations have nothing to gain by conducting them.

Thanks to the efforts of Prof. Simon Lewis, the UK's Sunday Times was forced to retract one of its many articles misrepresenting climate science:
[A]s Lewis notes, the Times “ignored interviews with two other experts, and mis-quoted me, concealing my interview comments to them that the IPCC scientific statement was defensible and backed by peer reviewed science (and concealing I sent them some of the scientific literature).”
The world's first solar-powered blimp will soon cross the English Channel:

The mammoth airship measures 72 feet long and 18 feet wide and has a nylon and polyethylene aluminum frame. It also features semi-flexible solar cells that can generate up to 2.4 kilowatts — enough to keep the blimp moving at 25 mph. The cells power a motor that turns two big red propellers, which in turn are expected to send the ship across the Channel in under an hour.

Sir James Dyson has created a bladeless fan for air conditioning:

The fan works like a jet engine, sucking air into a cyclone accelerator that amplifies it 15 to 18 times before blowing it out over an airfoil-shaped ramp. As that air is blown out, more is sucked in from behind. With no blades, the airstream is smooth and the contraption is easy to clean and more difficult to break one’s finger in (just sayin’). The fan runs on a modest 40-watt motor.

A new study suggests that telepresence is an important means of reducing CO2 emissions:

According to a new study of large companies using telepresence technology, U.S. and U.K. businesses that substitute some business travel with telepresence can cut CO2 emissions by nearly 5.5 million metric tons in total — the greenhouse gas equivalent of removing more than one million passenger vehicles from the road for one year — and achieve total economy-wide financial benefits of almost $19 billion, by 2020.

Scientists have discovered a coral reef hidden in a mangrove forest in the Virgin Islands:
According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), as many as 30 different species of coral are living happily among the roots in a "secret garden" of sort. Such a well protected and untouched coral ecosystem is a rare find in the Virgin Islands.

Photo: Caroline Rogers/USGS
Researchers are experimenting with a system that will warn gray whales away from wave energy buoys:
According to researchers, the sound energy (one-eighth of one watt) will be less than 1 percent of the sonar emitted from a fishing boat. Beginning in December, the researchers will observe the reactions of northbound single whales.
Two Hawaiian damselflies have won ESA protections:
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today protected two species of Hawaiian damselfly as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act. The damselflies are part of a backlog of candidate species that includes 245 species and are the subject of a lawsuit by the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups. The two insects have been waiting 26 years for protection.
The Department of Labor is allocating $78 million to the National Farmworker Jobs Program:
The program provides training and employment services to migrant and seasonal farmworkers. It is authorized by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 and is designed to counter the impact of chronic unemployment and underemployment experienced by migrant and seasonal farmworkers who depend primarily on agricultural labor jobs.

"Farmworkers do so much for families and for the nation's economy as a whole. These hard working members of our community deserve our support," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "Today's grants are an opportunity to help these workers as they upgrade their skills to improve their chances of advancement in their current employment or seek opportunities in other industries."

A new study confirms the benefits of immigration:
Immigrants do not reduce native employment rates over the long run (10 years), while increasing productivity and average income for native-born workers. Immigration to the United States over the 1990-2006 period can be credited with a 2.9 percent increase in real wages for the average U.S. worker.
And Robert Creamer argues persuasively that supporting Arizona's racial-profiling law is liable to cause huge problems for the GOP:
According to data released by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Texas Governor Rick Perry has lost his early lead over Democratic challenger Bill White and the race is now tied. The movement from a previous PPP poll in February comes entirely from Hispanic voters.
Detroit's residents increasingly support shrinking the city:
“There’s nothing you can do with a lot of the buildings now but do away with them,” said Mae Reeder, a homeowner of 35 years on the southeast side, where her bungalow is surrounded by blocks that are being reclaimed by nature, complete with pheasants nesting in vacant spaces where people once lived.
Extracted teeth could be an ideal source of stem cells:

Like cells from embryos, the soft living tissue from inside teeth can be induced to become what are known as pluripotent stem cells, which have the potential to form several different cell types.

Unlike embryonic cells, which are extracted from days-old human embryos, generating stem cells from dental pulp is a relatively non-invasive and non-controversial process.

An ancient Egyptian city has been discovered with radar.
The radar imaging showed the outlines of streets, houses and temples underneath the green farm fields and modern town of Tel al-Dabaa.

Dr Zahi Hawass, secretary general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the computer-generated images of the city, which is still buried under the ground, show a very detailed layout of ancient Avaris. Several architectural features including houses, temples, streets, cemeteries and palaces can be seen.

An artist is using a 3D printer to make objects out of human ashes:
Dutch Designer Wieki Somers just might have found the next new renewable building material — human ashes. For the Grand Hornu Images gallery exhibit “In Progress,” she used a 3D printer to turn human ashes into art. Somers created three pieces — a toaster, a mini vacuum cleaner and a scale — for the exhibit that was meant to have the designers rethink the idea of progress.
Animal alphabets. Children's books from the Lindsay Shaw Collection. Food labels from The B. Heller & Co. Collection. Medical graphics from the Richard Travers Collection. Stories from the Torres Strait. How the Yuungnaqpiallerput genuinely live. The Typographia Homepage. Photos by Guy Tillim. And an army of Jizo statues.

Book Use, Book Theory. A survey of the Australian retrofuture, via Frontiers of Science. The Strobotop. Magnificent maps. Materials from the historic corporate archive of R.R. Donnelley & Sons Company. Costume designs by B.J. Simmons and Co. The Singular Sufferings of Two Friends, who had lost themselves in an American Forest. The return of the repressed. Butterfly wings in 3D. Rhinoceroses in Romania. And Islands of Four Mountains from Above.

Alluvial porn, and how. Near the Egress, "a multimedia mash-up of b/w film, tintypes, stop-action video and custom soundtrack." Automats and Einfühlung. An exploration of display cabinets. The life of Frances Perkins. The Nineteenth Century in photographs, or vice versa. Journeying around an image. Astronomical snapshots, 1911-1915. Dueling geodata. Photos of New York. And recent acquisitions of the Monash Library.

L'instantanée. Notes towards a Martian Museum of Earth, and the Sands Mechanical Museum (via things). The USB Typewriter, "a new and groundbreaking innovation in the field of obsolescence." Ten things you didn't know about the Lewis Chessman. The Rose of Bohemia, and a map of Starvania. The Printer's Handbook, and Carte Geografiche. Photos by Roger Fenton. Bowerbirds and their bowers. And a collection of early astronomical photographs.

Here's a movie, too.

(Photo at top: "La grande roue du jardin des Tuileries" by Pierre Dubreuil, ca. 1900. Via L'instantanée.)


Emily said...

Yay, you're back! (I discovered your blog about a month ago, have since read much of the archives, and love it.)

Phila said...

Thanks, Emily! Much appreciated.