Friday, June 27, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

America's largest sugarcane grower has "agreed to sell all of its assets to the state and go out of business."

Under the proposed deal, Florida will pay $1.75 billion for United States Sugar, which would have six years to continue farming before turning over 187,000 acres north of Everglades National Park, along with two sugar refineries, 200 miles of railroad and other assets.

It would be Florida’s biggest land acquisition ever, and the magnitude and location of the purchase left environmentalists and state officials giddy.
The Committe of Natural Resources has voted to protect lands surrounding the Grand Canyon from uranium mining:
Upon today’s vote, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (FLPMA) requires Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to immediately withdraw subject lands from mineral entry for three years. The law allows emergency withdrawals when “extraordinary measures must be taken to preserve values that would otherwise be lost.”
Mexican activists have blocked a redundant tourist development on the Sea of Cortez:
Colectivo Balandra, as the group is called, successfully appealed to state officials whom have now designated a total of 5,000 acres of shoreline and sea as Natural Protected Area. La Paz and Balandra are located on the Sea of Cortez, the narrow strip of water that separates Baja California from the Mexican border.
Family planning advocates seem to be making some headway in the Philippines:
"[P]rominent forces" are publicly discussing the benefits of family planning in the Philippines, where for centuries the Roman Catholic Church has "exerted its influence" like it has in few other countries, the Wall Street Journal reports. According to the Journal, family planning advocates have "existed for years on the fringes of society," but an increasing number of advocates are now urging the government to implement family planning policies to address the country's economic problems and slow its population growth.
Meanwhile, Scotland will offer free emergency contraception:
The emergency contraception is set to be supplied for free in most of Scotland's 1,200 community pharmacies under changes to their contracts.
Missouri's Supreme Court has affirmed the right of midwives to practice in that state:
The Missouri Supreme Court on Tuesday in a 5-2 ruling reinstated a law permitting midwives to work in the state without fear of potential criminal charges, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. The law essentially allows anyone certified in obstetrics to deliver infants.
The Arizona state senate has rejected a "protection of marriage" bill that would have amended the state's constitution for the benefit of bigots:
The 14-11 vote was two shy of what was necessary to send the initiative to voters, according to AP.
An anti-abortion initiative in Montana has failed pretty dramatically:
The proposed Constitutional Amendment that would have defined a fertilized human egg as a 'person' failed to gain enough signatures needed to make the November ballot.

CI-100 would have banned abortion, but supporters needed 44,000 signatures to make the initiative legit for the November ballot. Supporters obtained less than half of the signatures needed, gathering close to 22,000.
Adding to their disappointment, an 11-year-old Romanian girl who was denied an abortion after being raped by her uncle will be allowed to have one after all.

More states are rejecting abstinence-only education funding:
[A]lthough a federal tally shows that 28 states are still participating in the program, participation in the program is down 40% over the past two years. Arizona and Iowa have said they will no longer accept the funding as of Oct. 1.
Canada's Federal Court has issued several rulings in favor of Mexican women who are fleeing violence:
In a series of stunning decisions, the Federal Court of Canada has jumped to the defence of Mexican women trying to stay in Canada to escape violence and abuse.

Six rulings in the past six weeks tossed aside decisions by the Immigration and Refugee Board. In one case, the board had declared that a 17-year-old girl's kidnapping and rape by the Los Zetas drug gang was "horrific" but wasn't bad enough to meet the threshold of "atrocious and appalling."

All must now return to a different panel of the refugee board to have their case reheard for a final decision on whether they can stay.

"We are very thankful. Canadian people are very humanitarian," said one of the women seeking asylum in Canada, who wished to remain anonymous.
Subtopia reports on Amnesty International's Counter Terror with Justice campaign:
The Cell Tour began this year as a traveling exhibit designed to encourage visitors to experience the conditions of isolation, if just for a moment, and then to share their impressions in a video message through a touchscreen recording device situated on the wall in place of a mirror over a sink....

The exhibit, perhaps inadvertently, I see as a revelation of this hazardous notion that American justice is a deployable prison cell that can be made cheaply on time and at any time, shipped anywhere in the world day and night, and dropped off on doorsteps here and abroad when and wherever the global arbiters of detention see fit.
The Sietch Blog discusses a solar-powered solar panel factory. One can only hope that solar power will be used to build it.

In related news, here's a machine that can churn out 1 GW of solar cells per year. Inhabitat reports on a combination solar cell/solar thermal installation for rooftops. And Hawai'i, which relies heavily on oil imports, has passed an impressive solar energy bill:
Hawai'i will become the first state in the nation to make solar water heaters compulsory in almost all new homes. The measure, SB 644, was not listed among the 52 bills considered for veto by Gov. Linda Lingle, meaning the bill will become law with or without her signature.
A British dance club claims that 60% of its power will be generated by dancers:
The springs in the floor are connected to power generating blocks made of piezoelectric crystals. It's similar to what Enviu, a Netherlands-based research group, proposed for Holland-based clubs, but with a different accent. Like that system, the British club's crystals produce current when subjected to pressure created by the gyrating bodies above.
Speaking of filthy hippies, the EU's farm chief has come to the daring conclusion that supermarkets' aesthetic standards for fruit and vegetables result in an awful lot of food being wasted. Perhaps he's onto something?

A new study in PLoS ONE adds to the evidence that biodiversity can protect humans against disease:
Areas with higher levels of bird diversity have lower incidences of West Nile virus infection in human populations, reports a new study published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

While the reasons for the findings are still being studied, the results support other research linking biodiversity to human health — specifically the "dilution effect" or the pattern "whereby increased biodiversity in wildlife results in lower risks of humans becoming infected by animal disease," according to a statement from the University of California at Santa Barbara.
A fishing ban along the Great Barrier Reef has helped fish species to recover:
Scientists behind the new study found that the fish bounced back within two years after no-take reserves were established.

Garry Russ, a marine biologist at James Cook University who led the research, said his team was "surprised" to find coral trout population increases of up to 68 percent in such a short period of time.

"This represents a positive and unprecedented response to reserve protection," he said.
An attempt to find alternative nesting sites for Caspian terns seems to be succeeding:
A major initiative to create alternative nesting sites for the largest colony of Caspian terns in the world -- and to help protect juvenile salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River -- is finding early success.

A recent survey of a new nesting site at Crump Lake in southern Oregon, which was just constructed in February by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, found more than 135 nesting pairs of Caspian terns, as well as more than a thousand pairs of gulls and two nesting pairs of double-crested cormorants.
Duck populations have increased in Minnesota:
Minnesota remains well below the goal of an average breeding population of 1 million ducks, which is outlined in the state duck recovery plan. Much of the actual increase was attributed to the late spring and migrant ring-necked ducks.

“Even so, it’s always encouraging when we see improved wetland habitat conditions and increased numbers of breeding mallards and blue-winged teal from the previous year,” Cordts said.

Speaking of birds, GrrlScientist explains the changes that are afoot in avian phylogeny.

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by W.R. Grace, which means the company will have to face trial for its rather...cavalier approach to asbestos:
The defendants were charged with knowingly combining, conspiring, and agreeing among themselves and others to release asbestos into the air, defrauding the U.S. government and agencies responsible for administering laws to protect public health and safety, and conspiring "to conceal and misrepresent the hazardous nature of the tremolite asbestos contaminated vermiculite, thereby enriching defendants and others."
A new study suggests that organic milk is more nutritious than conventional brands:
Cows that graze on real grass and clover produce milk that contains more antioxidants, vitamins and the good-for-you fatty acids.

The study found that the milk of these cows was particularly nutrient-rich in the summer, when they had the greatest access to fresh grass. During this season, the milk contained 60 percent more of the fatty acid CLA.
Onwards and upwards. Stereoviews of the Middle East. A small but lovely collection of cigarette cards. And a larger and lovelier exhibition of Victorian Trade Cards in Kansas City.

Abecedarium: NYC "reflects on the history, geography and culture of NYC through 26 unusual words." If you're not in the mood to be baffled, you can view the landscapes of James J. Hanks, then and now (don't miss the movie).

Decorated and Decorative Paper is pretty much what it sounds like. Ditto for The Book of Accidents.

The Display Windows of Eaton's Department Store, on the other hand, is a bit more exciting than it might sound.

I didn't know Chopin's heart had been preserved in cognac. I wonder if it's still edible?

Some of the more grandiose hopes for the Intertubes may never be realized. On the other hand, you can read Troy McClure's IMDb Resume. And watch in amazement as an iron ball falls in sand. (Both via Coudal.)

Just because I posted a video here once doesn't mean I have to do it every week, right? So why do I keep telling myself that I'm not finished until I find one?

(Illustration at top: "Composition, lune et soleil" by Max Ernst, 1960.)


Anonymous said...

Huzzah, dear rors. A terrific compilation this week. No time now but will return after work to read some of the links, particular the cheap solar stuff. I seriously think we're at the "better is the enemy of the good" or whatever that saying is, about solar right now. Who wants to spend $50k, even if one had such amount laying around (between the panels, the battery/storage system, control panels, installation and connection to interchange with the existing grid and the all-important Etc.) for a PV system now when something twice as good at half or less the price will be available Any Day Now?

It reminds me of the early days of PCs.

Phila said...


Thanks! But just as a friendly reminder, I'm Phila. Rorschach is the vigorous young go-getter who looks like The Rude Pundit; I'm the mopey neurasthenic in the floral hat.

chris said...

I was raised just outside Toronto. Several times a year we would go "into the city" and the windows at Eaton's were a part of every trip.
The Christmas windows were the best, they just made me WANT.