Friday, August 19, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

The best news I've heard this week is that most poor Americans have refrigerators. This means that if they can afford to buy food, they can keep it from spoiling, provided they're able to pay their electric bill. Compare this to the situation in Socialist Europe, where even the "wealthy" are obliged to drink warm beer, and you'll see that American exceptionalism is no joke.

Given that America's poor people underachievers enjoy advantages that would be well-nigh unimaginable to most 18th-century Baltic peasants, it's only fair to ask them to pull their ever-increasing weight. This site has also pointed out, more than once, that the tears of the poor could be a valuable source of microhydropower, to say nothing of water for processing tar sands. Not only does this make good economic sense, but it's also Biblically sound. For as Matthew 25:29 says, "unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away."

Besides, it's not like we have a choice. The only alternative would be to tax the wealthy a little more. Or failing that, to haul these insufferably arrogant economic vampires before a People's Tribunal, seize all their assets and maroon them on Howland Island.

In other news, Democrats did pretty well in the Wisconsin recall elections:

Two Wisconsin Democratic state senators beat back Republican challengers on Tuesday in the last of a series of recall elections triggered by a fight over collective bargaining rights for public sector workers.

Both Democrats and Republicans were claiming victory on Tuesday in a series of nine summer recall votes in which Democrats unseated two incumbent Republicans but fell short of winning control of the state legislature.

A professor quoted in the article refers to these results as "a draw," because what the hell else would you call booting two corrupt GOP bullies out of office, without losing any seats yourself?

The Florida Supreme Court has dared to suggest that there are legal limits on Rick Scott's power:
The Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that Gov. Rick Scott "overstepped his constitutional authority and violated the separation of powers" with an executive order freezing all pending rules until he could approve them.

In a 5-2 opinion, the court concluded that rulemaking authority belongs to the Legislature, not the governor.

The Virginia Department of Corrections will no longer shackle pregnant inmates during labor and recovery:
The new DOC regulations are sound public health policy. Restraining a pregnant woman can pose undue health risks to the woman and her pregnancy. Unrestrained movement is especially critical during labor, delivery, and the postpartum recovery. Women often need to move around during labor and recovery, including moving their legs as part of the birthing process, and restraining a pregnant woman can interfere with the medical staff’s ability to appropriately assist in childbirth.
The UK is taking steps to revitalize its canal system:
Britain's canal systems were once viewed as a throwback to a bygone age of freight transport, sidelined or abandoned in favor of faster road and rail links.

But as one major waterway undergoes a renaissance, shipping huge quantities of wine and other goods through two of the country's major trading hubs, the network could be poised to reclaim its original role and at the same time help cut pollution levels.

Urban crime rates have fallen in U.S. cities almost as sharply as they've increased in the imagination of hard-right "racial realists":
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its 2010 crime statistics, known as the Uniform Crime Report, which showed that despite the tough recession, the number of violent and property crimes committed dropped for the fourth year in a row. Those cities with 1 million or more residents saw violent crime drop 5.1 percent; cities with populations between 500,000 and 1 million experienced a 5.6 percent drop; and those between 250,000 and 499,999 saw the biggest drop in violent crime, 6.9 percent.
In related news, U.S. states are increasingly reducing prison sentences:

“In Texas for the last few years we’ve been driving down both the crime rate and the incarceration rate,” said Marc Levin, the director of the Center for Effective Justice at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which helped draft the state’s corrections overhaul. “And it’s not just Texas. South Carolina, Kentucky, Arkansas and Ohio in the past year or so have done major reforms. These are certainly not liberal states. That is significant.”

See also here.

The ESA appears to have saved the Lake Erie water snake:

“Recovery of the Lake Erie water snake is cause for celebration both for this species and for the Endangered Species Act’s long record of success,” said Collette Adkins Giese, the Center for Biological Diversity’s herpetofauna attorney. “Before its listing under the Act, the snake faced intense human persecution and habitat destruction. Through the reasonable efforts of state and federal agencies and the public, the survival of this once-imperiled species is now assured.”

Things are also looking up for England's river otters:

During 2009-10 more than 3,300 sites were surveyed. Sites showing evidence of otters have increased from 5.8 per cent in the first survey of 1977-79, to an outstanding 58.8 per cent in this survey.

The Obama administration will adjust U.S. deportation policies:

The new policy is expected to help thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as young children, graduated from high school and want to go on to college or serve in the armed forces.

And Chicago's O'Hare airport is home to a large apiary:
In May, the Chicago Department of Aviation partnered with a community group to start a 2,400 square foot apiary on-site. Now 23 beehives are up and running and are scheduled to yield 575 pounds of honey this year.

The project offers a creative, sustainable, and productive way to use otherwise wasted open space at mega-airports like O'Hare. The bees' new home on the east side of the airport campus had long stood vacant, so it was a natural spot for the bee program to begin. And if that's not enough benefit, the beehives provide employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated adults (similar to other projects that teach prisoners beekeeping).

Et cetera: Adventures in the Soviet Imaginary. Tokens of revolution. Town and country in miniature. (Related: Paper models of Prague, via things.) 100 objects. Fear of a black planet. Sounds of meteors. Tornado vs. rainbow. And photos by Sidney D. Gamble:

The Cambridge Illuminations. European maps of Australia. A bat billboard. Gay marriage among finches: a shocking exposé. Arkiva Tropica. Scenes from a peaceable kingdom. And photos by Pentti Sammallahti:

Still having YouTube problems, so that'll have to do it for this week.

(Image at top: "Laternenumzug" by Anna Sofie Petersen,ca. 1890.)


Makarios said...

Especially liked the item on the O'Hare apiary. Good to see that they're using it as an avenue for rehabilitating convicts. Also got a chuckle from the Nat Geo piece on animal friendships. Thanks.

Montag said...

Thanks for all these great items. It takes me a hour or more to go them all.