Friday, February 17, 2012

Friday Hope Blogging

The Obama administration will no longer defend the constitutionality of denying veterans' benefits to same-sex couples:

The Obama Justice Department has concluded that legislation banning same-sex couples from receiving military and veterans benefits violates the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment and will no longer defend the statute in court, Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday.

“The legislative record of these provisions contains no rationale for providing veterans’ benefits to opposite-sex couples of veterans but not to legally married same-sex spouses of veterans,” Holder wrote. “Neither the Department of Defense nor the Department of Veterans Affairs identified any justifications for that distinction that would warrant treating these provisions differently from Section 3 of DOMA.”

Teen pregnancy rates are down, no thanks to aspirin:
In 2008, the U.S. teenage pregnancy rate reached its lowest point in more than 30 years (67.8), down 42% from its peak in 1990 (116.9). Among women younger than 15, the pregnancy rate fell even more in that period (62%), from 17.5 to 6.6 per 1,000.
Things We Used to Know, Chapter MCXLIV:
Quality public schools benefit everyone – including those without school-aged children – and therefore everyone should play a role in maintaining them, according to a study by two Michigan State University scholars.
Debt collection and credit reporting agencies may eventually face a little more regulation, assuming they don't mind too much:

Debt collectors and credit reporting companies are bracing for intense scrutiny after the government’s consumer finance watchdog unveiled a broad plan to regulate financial firms that have largely evaded federal oversight....

“Debt collectors and credit reporting agencies have gone unsupervised by the federal government for too long,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, told reporters on Thursday. “It is time to provide the kind of oversight of these markets that will help ensure that federal laws protecting consumers in these financial markets are being followed.”

Someone has leaked a number of interesting confidential documents from the Heartland Institute:

Internal Heartland Institute strategy and funding documents obtained by DeSmogBlog expose the heart of the climate denial machine – its current plans, many of its funders, and details that confirm what DeSmogBlog and others have reported for years. The heart of the climate denial machine relies on huge corporate and foundation funding from U.S. businesses including Microsoft, Koch Industries, Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) RJR Tobacco and more.

In a well-thought-out plan that exemplifies HI's firm grasp of risk assessment, they're threatening to sue journalists who covered this story:
The threat was spelled out in an email sent to media outlets (including by Jim Lakely, Communications Director at the Heartland Institute. The group said it will "pursue charges and collect payment for damages, including damages to our reputation" from "individuals who have commented so far on these documents", prior to the Heartland Institute's official response.
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is irresponsibly attacking the black soot that made our nation great:
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton Thursday announced a new global initiative to reduce short-lived climate pollutants....

The initiative targets three pollutants that together account for more than one-third of current global warming - black carbon, or soot; methane; and hydrofluorocarbons, which are gases used in air conditioning, refrigeration, solvents, foam blowing agents and aerosols.
Chinese manufacturer FoxxConn is raising workers' wages in response to public outcry:
The move comes after nearly 250,000 individuals signed a petition on demanding Apple hold its suppliers accountable for violations of fair labor practices.

FoxxConn is best known in the United States as Apple Inc.’s largest supplier, manufacturing the technology giant’s popular iPad, iPhone and signature Mac computer products, in addition to dozens of other gadgets for other technology companies. But it has also gained a reputation as a chronic violator of human rights and fair labor practices.
In tangentially related news, the actress in Pete Hoekstra's repulsive anti-Chinese ad has apologized for her involvement:
As a recent college grad who has spent time working to improve communities and empower those without a voice, this role is not in any way representative of who I am. It was absolutely a mistake on my part and one that, over time, I hope can be forgiven. I feel horrible about my participation and I am determined to resolve my actions.
Apropos of which, designer discusses Hoekstra's use of "chop suey fonts" to conjure up the furrin ways of the Heathen Chinee.

The Obama administration may raise oil-drilling royalties:
Public lands belong to all of us, so when the federal government decides to lease them out to oil and gas drillers, those companies have to pay for depriving taxpayers of environmental and recreational benefits. And the Obama administration has decided that they're not paying enough. So the Interior Department's budget includes a proposal to raise royalties for oil and gas projects by 50 percent.
Hmm. Is this really what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they wrote the Bible? Wasn't there a guy named HITLER who tried to "benefit taxpayers" by impoverishing an unpopular minority? I'm not saying that's what's going on here but you can't deny that it's basically the exact same thing.

Speaking of Nazis, the People's Republic of Los Angeles has socialistically turned a communist mass-transit bus yard into a collectivist public park at the taxpayers' expense!
It took three years and more than $26 million to turn an old MTA bus yard in South Los Angeles into what it is today: a sprawling park and urban wetland that will store and clean millions of gallons of storm water — while also giving children a place to play.
In Washington, a federal judge held a factory farm responsible for local water pollution:
This first-ever ruling holding a CAFO accountable for its pollution was a result of a lawsuit by the nonprofit Community Association for Restoration of the Environment (CARE) against the Nelson Faria Dairy in Royal, Wash. The ruling upholds the terms of a 2006 settlement CARE had with the dairy’s previous owners, which the current owners subsequently ignored.
Attentive readers will note that the correction of the vassalees-fiction-syntax-grammar-pleadings is with the correction-participation-claim of this babble-indictment-evidence and: bad-probation-syntax=grammar-evidence. They may accordingly wonder why the vassalees did this case with a void-communications. The answer is simple: For the void-drogue-law, void-oath of an office, void-judge’s-oath, void-docking-court-house-vessel in the Washington-state-dry-dock and: void-original-lodial-land-title. (Duh.)

On top of which:
The nation's Republican governors are pressing forward with policies that promote the green economy—and in some cases they have moved further than their Democratic counterparts.

A new report by the National Governors Association (NGA) showed that 28 states enacted more than 60 new "clean" economic development policies between June 2010 and Aug. 2011. Among those states, more than half, or 16, have Republican governors. In five of the states, the policies were started under Democratic governors and were continued by Republicans who replaced them.
Nine cave-dwelling invertebrate species have won habitat protections in Texas:
[T]he U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized protection of 4,200 acres of critical habitat today for nine rare, cave-dwelling invertebrates in Bexar County, Texas. The designation cut roughly 1,700 acres from a February 2011 proposal, but is still nearly quadruple the size of a 2003 Bush-era designation that left out a number of places where the species live and failed to protect enough land adjacent to the caves.
A California court has blocked the construction of yet another doomed sprawlscape near the Tejon Pass:

“This is an extremely important habitat area for scores of threatened, endangered, and rare species, including the California condor, so it’s important that any development be carefully thought out,” said Adam Keats, urban wildlands director at the Center. “This is a huge victory for smart planning, especially considering the tremendous pressure from developers this area has been under.”

Bangladesh has designated three new sanctuaries for endangered freshwater dolphins:
"Declaration of these Wildlife Sanctuaries is an essential first step in protecting Ganges River and Irrawaddy dolphins in Bangladesh," Brian D. Smith, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society's (WCS) Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetacean Program, said in a press release. "As biological indicators of ecosystem-level impacts, freshwater dolphins can inform adaptive human-wildlife management to cope with climate change suggesting a broader potential for conservation and sustainable development."
And the Republic of the Congo has expanded a national park to protect chimpanzees:
The Republic of the Congo has expanded its Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park by 37,295 hectares (144 square miles) to include a dense swamp forest, home to a population of chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) that show no fear of humans. Known as the Goualougo Triangle, the swamp forest is also home to forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) and western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). The expansion of the park to include the Goualougo Triangle makes good on a government commitment from 2001.
Japanese whalers have lost their suit against anti-whaling activists:

A group of Japanese whalers has failed to win an injunction against U.S. anti-whaling activists, as a federal judge refused their request for protections from boats owned by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

The ruling was made in Seattle, where the whalers' group, the Institute for Cetacean Research, had filed suit. In addition to restraints on Sea Shepherd, the whalers were hoping the judge would impose a freeze on the activists' finances.

Florida governor Rick Scott's insane bid to expand the privatization of the Florida prison system has failed:
A massive expansion of private prisons in Florida collapsed in the Senate Tuesday as nine Republicans joined a dozen Democrats in handing a setback to Senate leaders and a victory to state workers.

As a result, the state will not undertake what would have been the single greatest expansion of prison privatization in U.S. history, affecting 27 prisons and work camps in 18 counties and displacing more than 3,500 correctional officers.

Last but nowhere near least, Mitt Romney is currently spending millions of dollars and alienating countless independents in hopes of eking out a meager victory over Rick Santorum, an unelectable buffoon and national punchline who doesn't even have a campaign office.

This, that and the other: The voice of the tarsier is heard in the land. Stardust melodies. Nuclear slide rules and dials. More of the same (I still have the proportional scale pictured here, and use it often. Old and in the way!) Breaking Out and Breaking In is a "distributed film fest" on the spatial and architectural aspects of prison and bank-heist films (but where's the infrastructure-as-prison classic Kanal?) Furthermore, photos by Juan Manuel Castro Prieto:

Spomeniks. Blimps and medicine wheels in the Stinkingwater Mountains. Culinary curiosities. Designing Canberra. The aesthetics of the photo booth. And photographs from the Community Service Society Records, 1900-1920:

(Photo at top: "Vue aérienne du quartier de l'Etoile" by Nadar, 1868.)


Makarios said...

Thank you very much for this post. All sorts of good news. And thanks for pointing me to Ms Ellison's page. Lots of good things there.

Oh, and that "sovereign citizen" word salad brought back memories. I once had to go through a wackload of that sort of thing (for reasons I won't bore you with), and, compared to what I've seen, the sample to which you linked is Shakespeare.

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