Argentina's Senate passed a gay marriage law early on Thursday following more than 14 hours of charged debate, as hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside the Congress in near-freezing temperatures. Senators voted 33-27 for the proposal, with three abstentions. "We're now a fairer, more democratic society. This is something we should all celebrate," Maria Rachid, a leading gay rights activist, said as supporters of the law hugged each other and jumped up and down after the vote.
Sorry for the sporadic posting. I've been sick. And busy. And traveling. And tired. And heartbroken. And preoccupied with my garden. And annoyed with the Intertubes.
Argentina is the first South American country to legalize same-sex marriage:
A Boston judge has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
Argentina's Senate passed a gay marriage law early on Thursday following more than 14 hours of charged debate, as hundreds of demonstrators rallied outside the Congress in near-freezing temperatures. Senators voted 33-27 for the proposal, with three abstentions.
"We're now a fairer, more democratic society. This is something we should all celebrate," Maria Rachid, a leading gay rights activist, said as supporters of the law hugged each other and jumped up and down after the vote.
Yesterday, Boston federal judge Joseph L Tauro ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional and that same-sex marriages must be subject to the same benefits as heterosexual marriages. Tauro ruled in favor of the plaintiffs in two separate court cases, but it is uncertain whether the ruling will be hold up during appeals but if maintained by the Supreme Court, it will protect federal benefits for same-sex marriages.Blog of Rights has more.
Judge Tauro wrote in the ruling, "This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status....The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state."
Alabama has expanded its domestic violence laws:
The changes provide greater privacy to victims filing protection orders, and expand the definition of abuse to include a wider range of relationships — namely, dating relationships.You can and should send a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, "asking her to investigate hospitals that refuse to provide emergency abortion care, and issue a bulletin making clear that refusing to provide this care violates federal law."
While you're at it, be sure to support John Abraham, who is being bullied and threatened by the appalling Lord Monckton for daring to correct that exquisitely sapient grandee on a few minor points of fact.
Congress has passed financial reform legislation. It's a mixed bag, obviously, but POGO has identified some of the positives, as thus:
The bill strengthens and expands the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) authority to reward whistleblowers who provide the agency with tips. Specifically, the SEC can offer reward payments tied to any judicial or administrative action that results in sanctions of over $1 million, and the whistleblower can receive anywhere between 10 and 30 percent of the amount recovered (the current limit is 10 percent, and is only available for tips on insider trading). The bill also prohibits employers from retaliating against whistleblowers who participate in the program. Whistleblowers who experience retaliation can file for relief in district court, and are eligible for reinstatement, back-pay, and compensation for legal fees.For the second year running, investment in renewable energy has outstripped investment in fossil fuels.
Europe has banned illegally harvested timber:
According to figures from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and the International Energy Agency-backed Renewable Energy Policy Network for the 21st Century (REN21) project, the amount of new energy capacity coming from renewable sources in Europe and the US also topped that coming from fossil fuels and nuclear for the second year.
Renewables accounted for 60 per cent of newly installed capacity in Europe and more than 50 per cent in the USA last year. The REN21 report predicted this year or next will see the same milestone reached on a global level, with rapid expansion in Chinese wind farms leading the rapid increase in renewable energy capacity in developing economies.
The legislation, which passed 644-25, will require all companies selling timber products in the E.U. to prove their wood is legally sourced. Companies that fail to demonstrate credible sourcing practices will be subject to fines.Apropos of which, illegal logging is declining worldwide:
A new report by the Chatham House finds that illegal logging in tropical forest nation is primarily on the decline, providing evidence that new laws and international efforts on the issue are having a positive impact. According to the report, the total global production of illegal timber has fallen by 22 percent since 2002. Yet the report also finds that nations—both producers and consumers—have a long way to go before illegal logging is an issue of the past.New York has opened its first federally funded EV charging station:
The station is the first of 100 that will be installed in the New York City metro area this year to get the region ready for the release of EVs later this year — like the Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt. When those vehicles hit the streets of NYC, an infrastructure of charging stations will be awaiting them, thanks to a federally-sponsored program called ChargePoint America.India is cracking down on noise pollution.
A nationwide decree deems 10am to 6am as a time for quiet, during which restrictions have been imposed on the use of horns, sound-emitting construction equipments and bursting of firecrackers,” the federal environment ministry said.This is an interesting idea:
Today over 1 billion people around the world need — but lack — access to eyeglasses. Seeking to provide for this need, Adlens has created a set of specs affixed with fluid-filled lenses whose magnification can be adjusted with just a simple turn of the dial! A clever design for health and well being, the ingenious lens could prove to be particularly useful in the developing world, where resources for vision care are scarce or priced beyond the means of individuals.We can only hope that the liquid in these spectacles isn't aqua divina.
A Japanese cat rehab clinic is helping to protect endangered birds:
So far, more than 100 newly tamed cats have found new homes -- and they don't seem to miss their old ways. "Maybe because they missed people, the captured cats show affection once they're tamed," said Yasushi Komatsu, vice chairmen of the TVMA.UNESCO is setting up a Traditional Knowledge Inventory:
Considering the far less humane options thought of by other nations to deal with invasive species, Japan's cat rehab seems to offer a real win-win solution. It just goes to show that with a bit of extra effort given to preserving the lives of endangered species, the lives of those endangering them can be spared too.
The Traditional Knowledge Institute gathers and protects historical knowledge and promotes and certifies innovative practices based on the modern re-proposal of tradition as well. Using traditional knowledge does not meat to reapply directly the techniques of the past, but rather to understand the logic of this model of knowledge. it is a dynamic system able to incorporate innovation subjected to the test of the long term and thus achieves local and environmental sustainability.Thousands of endangered animals have been rescued from a black-market warehouse:
The warehouse, described as a "mini zoo" by Kuala Lumpur Wildlife Department deputy director Celescoriano Razon, held thousands of birds, leopard cats, and albino pygmy monkeys, in addition to other species. Authorities said that the animals were likely being held to breed, or to sell.There's strong evidence that the chicken came before the egg.
"We thank the police for rescuing the animals," Razon said, "and will work closely with them to bring the criminals to justice."
"It had long been suspected that the egg came first, but now we have the scientific proof that shows that in fact the chicken came first," Sheffield University's Colin Freeman, according to a report in the Metro.Why it crossed the road remains an inexorable mystery, just as God intended.
Photos from Close Up. Photos from far away. It's Mars Day (shouldn't it fall on a Tuesday?). Paula and her Paulistas. A gallery of Hairy Grotesques, many of whom have doppelgängers in my neighborhood. And Leon Levinstein's New York photographs (via wood s lot).
St Kilda, Britain’s Loneliest Isle (via The Bioscope, natch). Historypin (via things, inevitably). Calling cards. That Old Time Religion. Titles on display at The Monkey's Paw. And assorted tracts and pamphlets.
And — wait for it, now — a movie.
(Image at top: "Mars' Labyrinth of the Night" via NASA/JPL/AS.)