Friday, March 11, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

First things first: Click here to see how you can help victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. While doing so, bear this in mind:

Tucked into the House Republican continuing resolution are provisions cutting the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including the National Weather Service, as well as humanitarian and foreign aid.

Then, click here to tell the New York Times to apologize for its utterly grotesque reporting on an 11-year-old victim of gang-rape.

Last, please click here to contribute to the recall effort in Wisconsin.

Apropos of which, Wisconsin high school students are planning a walkout, and calling for students in other states to join them.

Wisconsin Students in Solidarity is asking for the nationwide walkout to happen this Friday, March 11, 2011 at 2:00 p.m. local time. Less than 12 hours after being formed, the Facebook event, Nationwide Student Walkout, has almost 2,000 "attendees" from across the country and student-led copycat groups and events are springing up on the social media hub.

And other activists are targeting Scott Walker's campaign contributors:

The blowback from Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s union-busting crusade has only just begun—and it may soon hit the governor where it really hurts: in the deep pockets of his biggest donors. Workers have begun organizing a “Move Your Money Campaign” against M&I Bank, whose employees are among his chief financial backers....

On Thursday morning, several hundred protestors surrounded an M&I Bank across the street from the Wisconsin State Capitol shouting “You Got Bailed Out, We Got Sold Out.” International Association of Fire Fighters Local 311 President Joe Conway, Jr., told me two union members marched in and pulled a combined $192,000 dollars out of the bank. “Hopefully this sends a message to the bank,” says Conway. “We wanted to illustrate how serious our threat is by having just two of our members pull their money out. “ The union said it plans to escalate actions and will soon begin handing out flyers at protests asking people to move their money.

Meanwhile, Seattle food safety attorney Bill Marler is calling on law firms to support public unions:

Marler is using social media to encourage other law firms to show support for public union employees in Wisconsin. Marler is closing his law firm early Friday as a gesture of solidarity and as a protest against the state's efforts to reduce collective bargaining power for Wisconsin public union employees....

“I believe we owe a debt to the union employees who keep our society moving,” said Marler. “Times are economically challenging, but it’s short sided and socially unconscionable to so greatly devalue the work of those who fix our roads, drive our buses, and, not to mention, educate our children.

And Iraq Veterans Against the War is planning a solidarity march:
Iraq Veterans Against the War calls on all veterans and peace organizations to mobilize to Madison, Wisconsin on March 19th, the 8th anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, to stand in solidarity with workers organizing for their rights....

As military veterans, we call on our brothers and sisters in the Wisconsin National Guard to refuse and resist any mobilization orders. We believe military service members are public employees. It is dishonorable to suggest that military personnel should be deployed against teachers, health care providers, firefighters, police officers, and other government employees, many of whom are serving in the National Guard. The Wisconsin National Guard was sent in to repress workers fighting for the eight hour workday over a century ago. It is vital that our brothers and sisters know they have a choice and can fall on the right side of history this time by standing with the working people of Wisconsin.
In New Hampshire, organized protesters derailed a Republican attempt to deny voting rights to college students:
The New Hampshire House Elections Committee shot down an attempt to screw students out of the right to vote in their campus towns. Students, who have been organizing against this travesty since it was introduced in January, deserve full credit for their protests and letter-writing campaigns.
In tangentially related news, young Americans have sex.

Illinois has abolished the death penalty:
Gov. Pat Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 3539, ending Illinois' dysfunctional and broken death penalty system. The measure ends an embarrassing history in Illinois, during which 20 men sentenced to death have been exonerated and released from the state's death row....

After more than a decade of struggle, after 20 exonerations, after all the work and toil, today the death penalty system in Illinois has been eliminated. It is a good day for justice.
In Virginia, plans for the Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline have been suspended:

This is great news for clean energy advocates—as the proposed PATH is a $2 billion proposal to build a 275-mile long 765-kV transmission line starting at the John Amos coal-fired power plant in West Virginia, which would go through West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland.

Denver is using water fees for forest restoration:
Like many cities around the world, Denver gets its drinking water from rivers and reservoirs, which in turn get their water from forests. Many of those forests, however, are in trouble – thanks to funding cuts, climate change, and a horde of opportunistic beetles. That puts the city's water supply at risk as well, so Denver teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service to funnel money it collects from water fees into forest restoration. And it's not the only city to do so.
I'm skeptical about this scheme, but I can't help admiring its scale:
This eye-popping Hydra Tower aims to solve the hydrogen conundrum in the most logical awesome way possible -- by harnessing bolts of lighting to smash molecules of water into hydrogen and oxygen. The spire's sinuous exoskeleton is made from graphene, a carbon super-material that is 200 times stronger than steel and highly conductive to heat and electricity - the better to channel incredible amounts of energy straight from the sky.
Anti-Qaddafi protesters have seized his son's London mansion:
Calling itself Topple the Tyrants, a U.K. group has taken control of Muammar Gaddafi progeny Saif Al Islam Gaddafi's multimillion-pound mansion in Hampstead, London, a tony Inner London suburb. The activists now occupy the property and have taken to the 17-room home's roof with a Libyan rebel flag and several anti-Gaddafi banners. They also have a spokesperson who's talking to reporters: "We didn't trust the British government to properly seize the Gaddafi regime's corrupt assets, so we took matters into our own hands."
In the Philippines, women are marching for reproductive health care reform:
More than 6,000 women gathered near the House of Representatives building to urge lawmakers to pass the bill aimed at giving poor women more access to artificial birth control and better maternal health care.

Elizabeth Angsioco, chairwoman of the Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines, said the passage of the Reproductive Health Bill would help prevent the deaths of 11 women daily from complications from pregnancy or child birth.
Why we fight: The Jane Austen Drinking Game (via Feministing). The Appalachian Trail. Up, up and away. Tourist photography maps. And the thrilling exploits of people seeking peace of mind through psychoanalysis:

Nineteenth-century travel albums (via Peacay). Terra Nullis. Photos by Vanessa Winship. Photos by Irina Werning. Illustrated newspaper supplements. And the Powerhouse Museum's International Women's Day set:

Nine eyes. Anamorphic writing. The Gerd Arntz Web Archive. Grassroots aerial mapping. The Maras Salt Mine. Lifecycle of the Common Jezebel. And Talinn's North Corridor.

Here's a song, too:

(Photo at top: "Rouages" by Germaine Krull, circa 1929.)

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

This week, we'll start with an amusing joke. See if you can find its grain of deadly truth.

A public union employee, a tea party activist, and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it. The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the tea partier and says, "Watch out for that union guy. He wants a piece of your cookie."

New Haven has resolved to tear down an urban freeway:

In New Haven, Conn., a mistake of the past – one that displaced hundreds, razed a neighborhood, and physically divided a city – is finally set to be rectified: A highway is going to be demolished.

Some people in New Haven have been waiting to see this for 40 years, ever since it became clear that a modern roadway slicing through the heart of downtown would not bring the hoped-for suburban shoppers and revitalization.

Incidentally, George Will says that trains are an attack on American freedom and individuality. Three images come to mind.

Los Angeles has approved a plan that will create more than 1,500 miles of bikeways, and force the area's few remaining Real Americans under the pleather yoke of the metrosexual nanny state:
At its heart is the creation of three networks of bikeways, expanding total mileage from an existing 378 to 1,680. The "backbone network" would consist mostly of bike lanes painted on major arterials leading to employment centers, transit stations, retail and entertainment centers and parks. The "neighborhood network" involves local and collector streets that would be made more bicycle-friendly with the installation of barriers, roundabouts and other measures to limit car traffic. And the "green network" would consist of dedicated bike paths in recreational areas, such as along the Los Angeles River.
Noted 1337 h4xx0r Aaron Barr has apparently been permab& by HBGary Federal, just as he was about to reveal that Glenn Greenwald works from a secret bunker deep in the bowels of Fort Longcat:
HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Bar has resigned, doubtless cheering members of the elusive "hacktivist" group Anonymous who have targeted him in the past month....

Now, as Barr steps down from his post, House Democrats are calling for an investigation of HBGary Federal's "use of subversive tactics" to target progressive groups.
The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations don't have personal privacy rights:

The unanimous decision in Federal Communications Commission v. AT&T, Inc. reversed a ruling by a US appeals court in favor of the telecommunications company....

"The protection in FOIA against disclosure of law enforcement information on the ground that it would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy does not extend to corporations."

Researchers have found a new population of an endangered chameleon:
Scientists have discovered a new population of the Belalanda chameleon (Furcifer belalandaensis), boosting hope for one of Madagascar's rarest chameleons....

According to DICE professor, Richard Griffiths, the discovery is "very important for [the Belalanda chameleon], which is probably one of the world's rarest reptiles."
The world's rarest rhino is breeding:
There may only be 40 left in the world, but intimate footage of Javan rhino mothers and calves have been captured by video-camera trap in Ujung Kulon National Park, the last stand of one of the world's most threatened mammals. Captured by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Indonesia's Park Authority, the videos prove the Javan rhinos are, in fact, breeding.

"The videos are great news for Javan rhinos," said Dr. Eric Dinerstein chief scientist at WWF, adding that "there are no Javan rhinos in captivity—if we lose the population in the wild, we’ve lost them all."
New York will require honesty from CPCs:
Yesterday the New York City Council voted 39 to 9, with one abstention, to pass a bill that would require crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to disclose whether they provide emergency contraception and abortion services and whether they have a licensed medical practitioner on site. Evelyn Erskine, a spokeswoman for Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D) stated that she expected the major to sign the bill in the next few weeks. The new law will impact approximately 12 CPCs in New York.

Sabrina Shulman, political director of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, asserted, "It has been neither coincidence nor by accident that CPCs have been deceiving women about their true nature. Until now, deception has been their business model. This needs to stop. Today it will."
At a forum in Washington DC, black church leaders apologized to members of the LGBT community for being "judgmental":

Anthony E. Moore, pastor of Carolina, moderated the dialogue and stated up front that the forum was not intended to be one in which the church took a theological position on homosexuality....

Toward the end of the event, he reinforced the sincerity of the church's apology by pledging to continue the dialogue and to make concerted efforts to make his ministry more inclusive of members of the LGBT community.

(via Feministing.)

The SPLC has recognized Pam Geller and her followers as a hate group:
Stop the Islamization of America was included in the civil rights organization's annual roundup of extremist groups - a rogue's gallery that includes everything from the Ku Klux Klan to white supremacists and Nazis.
Canada will not repeal its law against lying on news programs:

Canada's broadcasting regulator has abandoned its attempt to change a regulation that prohibits the dissemination of false or misleading news.

[T]he CRTC's call for public input on the proposal resulted in a tidal wave of angry responses from Canadians who said they feared such a move would open the door to Fox TV-style news and reduce their ability to determine what is true and what is false.

A federal judge has extended the restraining order that prevents Bayer CropScience from manufacturing methyl isocyanate:
Given the limited record, including limited evidence of the defendant's history of safety violations, misrepresentations to the public, and multiple accidents and chemical leaks, and in light of the fact that the court has not had the opportunity to conduct a preliminary injunction evidentiary hearing, I FIND that the plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of this temporary relief.
(h/t: Karin.)

The University of Arizona is working to improve the Navajo Nation's access to clean water:

Using power from the sun and a process known as membrane distillation, Ela and a team of student researchers are testing a prototype system on the roof of the UA Civil Engineering Building to see if it could be used on the reservation. Currently in its infant stage, the purification system resembles an oversized high school science project. Long rolls of tubing connect a drum of water to a complex arrangement of heat exchangers and a membrane module.

Almost done, migraine notwithstanding. Regional typography of Portugal (via Aqua-Velvet). A plain of jars. An interview with China MiĆ©ville (I'm agnostic — at best — on his novels, but he has some interesting things to say). A map of businesses opposed to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And life on the canals.

Crimean mud volcanoes. Dried stuff. Labelography of home recording discs. Art by Hubert Blanz. The Dartmoor Archive. Moon over Edmonton. Tintin's cars (via Peacay). British rock art. And images of everyday life in 19th-c. California.


Photo at top: "Incarnation" by Tilby Vattard, 2009.)