Friday, September 26, 2008

Friday Hope Blogging

The US Supreme Court granted a stay of execution to Troy Davis - who was convicted in 1991 of murdering a policeman - 90 minutes before he was scheduled to receive a lethal injection.

Seven out of nine witnesses who gave evidence at Davis' trial have recanted or changed their testimony, which was the backbone of the prosecution's case in the absence of a murder weapon, fingerprints and DNA.
Here's the really remarkable part of the story:
The US high court was not in session this week and the request was heard Tuesday by just one member of the court, conservative justice Clarence Thomas.
British Columbia's Appeal Court has upheld the bubble-zone law that prevents anti-choice protesters from harassing patients and staff outside abortion clinics.
The three Appeal Court judges were unanimous in ruling that while the right to protest against abortion is protected, the object of the bubble-zone law is to protect vulnerable women and that justifies limiting protesters' rights.
In Malawi, beauty salons are distributing female condoms.
Pamela Msukwa, family planning and HIV technical coordinator for PSI/Malawi, said hair salons were chosen for the program because they "provide a very viable and highly targeted market" due to their popularity with women in Malawi. She added, "That's where they get to talk about issues, and there is always somebody they can discuss issues with." A team of women associated with the organization promote and distribute the condoms, and salon staff members are trained on how to talk about the products with their customers.
No Capital reports that South Africa's disastrous health minister has been removed from office:
AIDS activists Friday were celebrating the removal of South Africa’s health minister, who promoted nutritional supplements instead of conventional medicine for people with HIV.
A simple screening test for cervical cancer has performed very well in rural China:
An affordable and simple test for 14 high-risk strains of human papillomavirus (HPV) was highly accurate in a trial in rural China, researchers reported Sunday.

Routine cervical cancer screening has cut mortality from the disease in advanced industrial nations by 50-80 percent. However, the sophisticated laboratory equipment needed is a barrier for many poor nations, which may lack medical infrastructure and even electricity in remote areas.
There are rumors of intense dissatisfaction with Sarah Palin among the McCainiacs. I take them with several grains of salt - why would people sentient enough to notice her failings overlook McCain's? - but you can draw your own conclusions.

A plan to drill for uranium near the Grand Canyon has been blocked:
The Center for Biological Diversity, Grand Canyon Trust and Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter have reached a settlement agreement with the United States Forest Service and VANE Minerals, a British mining firm, over a legal challenge to uranium exploration approved last December for national forest land immediately south – some within three miles – of Grand Canyon National Park.

The suit held that the Kaibab National Forest violated the National Environmental Policy Act and Appeals Reform Act when it approved 39 exploratory drilling holes using a “categorical exclusion” from detailed public and environmental review under the National Environmental Policy Act. The settlement follows an April preliminary injunction and requires the Forest Service and VANE Minerals to withdraw the drilling approval and to undertake a full Environmental Impact Statement process prior to any renewed effort to drill at the sites.
A nonprofit partnership is making low-income housing in New Mexico greener:
Spending roughly $1 million at each property, the Reliant Group installed energy-efficient, doublepaned windows and low-flow toilets and shower heads to help residents save on their utility bills. Energy-saving fluorescent lights were installed in kitchens and entries. Ceiling fans were added.

A rooftop solar system for heating water was installed at one of the Albuquerque apartment properties, Montgomery Manor at 4301 Morris NE. Playgrounds with equipment made from recycled milk jugs were put in all the properties. LEED-certified flooring tile was put in common areas.

"These things don't save on the owner's energy bill," said Hans Juhle, a partner in the Reliant Group. "They reduce the resident's bill and these are people who live on the margin."
Amsterdam will use existing tram lines to deliver products throughout the city, which will allow them to get diesel delivery vehicles off the streets:
Once in the city, they have a fleet of electric delivery vans (e-cars) that can then take the individual deliveries to their exact destination.

This project alone could take about half the delivery truck traffic off the streets, thus reducing the amount of particulate pollution in the air (sulfur), as well as noise pollution, and just plain “size” pollution. If we could take about half of the delivery trucks out of our own cities, we could all breathe easier as well as drive our sub-compacts and electric vehicles without worry of becoming a bug splat on some semi's window.
Apropos of which:
Turn-of-the-century trolley tracks were unearthed unexpectedly this week in downtown Ventura by crews replacing a crosswalk.

Workers discovered the rusted steel rails about six inches below ground while replacing a concrete crosswalk in the middle of Main Street at the Oak Street intersection, officials said.
Los Angeles officials hope to turn a brownfields site into a green industrial park:
It's a vacant lot now, but Los Angeles officials hope to turn the former brownfield site downtown into a cluster of "green" manufacturing businesses to meet the region's growing demand for solar and wind power and other clean technologies.

The proposed CleanTech Manufacturing Center would be established on a city-owned 20-acre parcel in an industrial area near the intersection of 15th Street and Santa Fe Avenue, south of the 10 Freeway and west of the Los Angeles River.

The development, which city officials say could accommodate as much as 1 million square feet of industrial space, would essentially function as a green industrial park and incubator.
The EPA has decided to shelve a couple of studies in which children are exposed to pesticides and other chemicals:
The two studies, entitled “Observational Studies to Characterize the Determinants of Exposure to Chemicals in the Environment for Early-Lifestage Age Groups” (involving infants under age 3 in the Las Vegas area) and “Novel Approaches for Assessing Exposure for School-Aged Children in Longitudinal Studies” have been “cancelled until further notice.” They are reminiscent of a notorious experiment called the Children’s Environmental Exposure Research Study (with the anomalous acronym CHEERS) in which Florida parents would have been paid to spray pesticides in the rooms of their infant children. The ensuing furor forced EPA to grudgingly end CHEERS in April 2005 in order to secure the confirmation of EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.
Dell claims its laptop screens will soon be mercury-free:
Replacing those by LEDs means that the displays will use less energy, will probably have a longer useful life (LEDs last a very long time), will be mercury-free and more recyclable.
A new iguana has been discovered in Fiji:
B. bulabula has a distinct bright nose and a U-shaped band around its neck, Fisher said. The other two species either have a V-shaped band or spots around their necks.

And unlike its dry forest-dwelling relatives, B. bulabula rummages through wet forests.

Over a hundred new species of sharks and rays have been found in Australia. You can see a few of them here.

In Japan, ten crested ibis have been released into the wild, 27 years after the last native ibis died:
Ibises have returned to Japan for the first time since 1981 after researchers released 10 of the endangered birds Thursday.

The large white birds, some wearing small GPS devices on their backs for tracking, flew away from a crowd of cheering onlookers and headed for nearby rice paddies.

Red-faced, with pink-white feathers, a curved black beak and a floppy feathered crown, the crested ibis was once common in rice fields in Japan and across Asia, where it feasted on bugs and frogs.
Photo: Sado Japanese Crested Ibis Conservation Center

The Senate has passed an extension of the Production Tax Credit.
The U.S. Senate just voted overwhelmingly, 93 to 2, to approve legislation containing a one-year extension of the crucial wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) through December 31, 2009. The bill, H.R. 6049, also would create a new investment tax credit for purchases of small wind systems used to power homes, farms and small businesses.
You can urge your representatives to pass the bill by clicking here.

California's Proposition 2 (aka the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act) faces stiff opposition from the usual industry groups. Please consider giving Yes on 2 some cash, if you can spare it. Once you've done that, you can get busy on making your own hydroelectric generator. Your reward will be great in heaven!

Your reward will be great down here, too, consisting as it does of Built St. Louis, "a site dedicated to the historic architecture of St. Louis, Missouri" (via Plep). And Thirty-Three Theaters and a Funeral Home (via wood s lot). And Sagebrush Vernacular: Architecture of Rural Nevada (via yours truly).

A fascinating and relatively new ailment: lunar hay fever. A history of The Civilian Conservation Corps at Mammoth Cave National Park. Useful tips on living through the Depression via Miss Bailey Says: Common Sense in 1930s Relief Programs. An exhibition of Printing Matrices for Narrative of the U.S. Exploring Expedition.

Furthermore: A simulated earthquake. An account of Four Years in the White North (recommended soundtrack: Sounds of Antarctic Wildlife). A survey of Cinema in Quebec in Silent Era (via The Bioscope, of course). The design work of Raymond Loewy. The return of Einstein's telescope. An archive of snapshot disasters.

Here's a short film to end with.

Illustration: "The Gramineous Bicycle Garnished with Bells the Dappled Fire Damps and the Echinoderms Bending the Spine to Look for Caresses" by Max Ernst, 1921).


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