Friday, April 01, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

First, this:

Traditionally a Republican constituency, police and firefighters are rapidly turning to Democrats after assaults on their union rights in Wisconsin, Ohio, and elsewhere. “Who are these evil teachers who teach your children, these evil policemen who protect them, these evil firemen who pull them from burning buildings? When did we all become evil?” asked the national president of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Once again, hard-right sociopathy provides a more compelling argument for progressive values than Democratic leadership. Perhaps when GOP governors unilaterally legalize unregulated medical experimentation on people who can't pay their hospital bills, we can consider taking another tentative look at the public option.

Anyway, the first recall petition has been filed in Wisconsin:

La Crosse area Democrats say they will file petitions today with enough signatures to trigger a recall election of Sen. Dan Kapanke, one of eight Senate Republicans targeted over votes to curtail collective bargaining rights for public workers. If approved, it would be just the fifth recall election of a Wisconsin legislator.

A co-chairman of David Prosser's campaign is supporting his opponent:

"I have followed with increasing dismay and now alarm the campaign of Justice David Prosser, whom I endorsed at the outset of his campaign and in whose campaign I serve as the honorary co-chairman," Lucey said in the statement. "I can no longer in good conscience lend my name and support to Justice Prosser's candidacy. Too much has come to light that Justice Prosser has lost that most crucial of characteristics for a Supreme Court Justice—as for any judge—even-handed impartiality. Along with that failing has come a disturbing distemper and lack of civility that does not bode well for the High Court in the face of demands that are sure to be placed on it in these times of great political and legal volatility."

And that may actually be the least of Prosser's problems.

What if they held a Tea Party rally, and nobody came?

Tea party organizers had high hopes for their rally today in Washington, DC—high enough hopes that they arranged for Fox to give it live coverage.

Then something sad happened. Just a few dozen people showed up.
Apropos of which, persecution complex is the defining modern psychosis. Or at least, that's what they want us to think.

Former U.S. Special Counsel Scott Bloch is going to jail:
The contempt of Congress charge is just one of the many lowlights of Mr. Bloch’s time as the head of the Office of Special Counsel. Considering all that Mr. Bloch did to make a mockery of his position, it’s fitting that he’ll have some time to reflect about his misdeeds in a federal prison.
Background info here.

Michael Mann is suing Tim Ball for libel:

Dr. Michael Mann, Director of the Earth Systems Science Center at Penn State University, is suing the climate change denier Dr. Tim Ball and the think tank/web site Frontier Centre for Public Policy for libel - and particularly for suggesting that Mann is somehow guilty of criminal fraud for his part in what has come to be known as "climategate"....

The suits are also stacking up for Ball, who is already facing a similar action from the Canadian climate scientist Andrew Weaver.

About time:
For the first time in its 98-year history, the Federal Reserve on Thursday identified banks that borrowed from its oldest lending program.

The Fed was compelled to name the banks that drew emergency loans during the financial crisis after the Supreme Court rejected a bid by major banks to keep that information secret....

A number of lawmakers, led by Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders, pushed to open up the Fed after complaining that it had operated in secret for most of its history.

Sanders on Thursday called the Fed discount-window lending “welfare for the rich and powerful.” He said the disclosures are “lifting another veil of secrecy at the Fed."

Washington will recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages:
Basically what this is saying is that, no matter how you’ve codified your same-sex partnership, Washington will recognize it to the extent that their law allows, which is domestic partnerships, which, if you’ll remember, were voted on by the people and approved. Now, the legislature is bringing everything in line with their laws, as they currently stand, because if you’ll remember, Washington has a same-sex marriage ban remaining on its books. When that goes away [and it will], those couples who were married elsewhere should be bumped up to married status in Washington. Governor Chris Gregoire, by the way, has said she will sign this bill
Meanwhile, the Netherlands celebrates its tenth year of marriage equality. The traditional gift for a 10-year anniversary is apparently tin or aluminum. Perhaps we should all mail a ball of foil to Maggie Gallagher.

HSBC says we have 50 years of oil left:

The senior global economist at the world's second largest bank warned that the global oil supply might run out in under 50 years.

"Energy resources are scarce," wrote Karen Ward, HSBC's senior global economist in a research report that was obtained by CNBC. "Even if demand doesn’t increase, there could be as little as 49 years of oil left."

In the Midwest, paved roads are returning to the dust whence they came:

The paved roads that finally brought rural America into the 20th century are starting to disappear across the Midwest in the 21st. Local officials, facing rising pavement prices, shrinking budgets and fewer residents, are making tough decisions to regress. In some places, they have even eliminated small stretches of gravel road altogether.

In Borneo, an indigenous community has seized control of an oil palm plantation:
[T]he action came after months of inaction by IOI, following the March 2010 court decision that two concessions held by the palm oil company were planted on community lands. Despite the ruling, IOI continued to operate its plantations. It also broke its commitment not to appeal the court decision, according to RAN. So earlier this month, the people of Long Teran Kenan blocked the road and occupied the plantation. They have since started harvesting and selling the fruit to a nearby palm oil mill.
A federal judge has restored ESA protections for the West Virginia northern flying squirrel:
A federal judge reinstated endangered status for the West Virginia northern flying squirrel late Friday, holding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had violated the Endangered Species Act by not following its own recovery plan for the species in its decision to remove protection for the rare animal.
Farmers are suing Monsanto, for a change:
Genetically modified seed giant Monsanto is notorious for suing farmers [PDF] in defense of its patent claims. But now, a group of dozens of organic farmers and food activists have, with the help of the not-for-profit law center The Public Patent Foundation, sued Monsanto in a case that could forever alter the way genetically modified crops are grown in this country....

If the suit is successful, not only will it limit Monsanto's ability to sue farmers, the company will have far greater responsibility for how and where its biotech seeds are planted. The regulatory free ride will be over.
Skype offers a new platform that connects classrooms around the world:
Good news for teachers looking to collaborate with their colleagues in other parts of the world. Skype has a new free service just for educators called Skype in the classroom, "a free global community created in response to, and in consultation with, the growing number of teachers" using the tool to help students learn.

Teachers already access the eight-year-old service for joint projects, global language exchanges, and guest lectures, but have had a hard time using it to find like-minded collaborators. Skype in the classroom solves that challenge by letting a teacher specify what grade or subject she teaches, and what kinds of projects she's interested in working on together, when she first sets up a profile.

If you want to reward me for my continuing labors on this semi-defunct z-list blog, you can buy me this (or failing that, this). Meanwhile: UTERUS UTERUS UTERUS UTERUS UTERUS. Photos by Richard Kolker (via Coudal). Mercury from orbit. Festival of colors. Ingenious Hebrew letter forms. And ingenious English letter forms:

Thanhouser Films Online (via the Bioscope). Folklore and Mythology Electronic Texts (via things). Spiderwebs. Cars as sedimentary particles. The geoid. And photos by Lewis Baltz:

Google Body. A survey of aerial fields. Rain on Titan. A walk through Durham Township, Pennsylvania. A sound map of Tallinn (for Cheryl, natch). Electrosphere. Photographing an island. Early 20th-c. panoramas. And tiny scenes from the Age of Power and Wonder.

Also, a movie.

(Photo at top: "Violin-Making Machine" by unidentified photographer, c. 1912.)