Friday, April 10, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

Vermont has stopped denying marriage rights to same-sex couples:

The House and Senate on Tuesday overrode Gov. Jim Douglas’ veto of a marriage bill.

The Republican governor, as expected, nixed the bill Monday night when it arrived on his desk and sent it back to the legislature. The Senate voted 23-5 to override the veto. It then moved to the House which voted 100-49- the exact number needed to override the veto.
Washington DC's city council has voted to recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere:
The District's preliminary vote was Tuesday, the same day Vermont became the fourth state to recognize same-sex marriages and a week after the Iowa Supreme Court legalized such unions, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
Colorado's governor has signed a law that protects the rights of same-sex couples:
The new law — formerly known as House Bill 1260 — allows two people to enter into "designated beneficiary agreements" for estate planning, property purchases, medical decisions and certain benefits such as life-insurance and retirement-plan disbursements.
The North Dakota state senate has ruled that a fertilized egg is not a person:
North Dakota's Senate has rejected legislation to bestow human rights on fertilized human eggs, whether they be in the womb or in a laboratory.

Senators voted 29-16 Friday to reject legislation that sought to define as a human being "any organism with the genome of homo sapiens." The "personhood" status would include a developing embryo from the moment of conception, whether inside or outside the womb....

Sen. Curtis Olafson, a Republican, spoke out frequently against the bill, saying it would make it difficult for doctors to treat problem pregnancies that could threaten the woman's life because both she and her unborn child would have equal status under the law.
Afghanistan has shelved a law that condoned marital rape, among other things:
“The Justice Ministry is reviewing the law to make sure it is in line with the Afghan Government’s commitment to human rights and women rights conventions,” Sultan Ahmad Baheen, a spokesman for the ministry in Kabul, said.
Alberto Fujimori has been sentenced to 25 more years in prison:
With this ruling, and its exemplary performance during the trial, the Peruvian court has shown the world that even former heads of state cannot expect to get away with serious crimes.
Not unless they're American, anyway.

The CIA will no longer use contract interrogators:
The CIA has stopped using contractors to interrogate prisoners and fired private security guards at the CIA's now-shuttered secret overseas prisons, agency Director Leon Panetta said Thursday....

Terminating the private security guards who watched over the secret sites would save the agency $4 million, Panetta said. The CIA refused to provide details about the contract, including its total value and the company or companies that were fired.
Oregon now has 200,000 more acres of protected wilderness.
When President Barack Obama's signing pen lifted off a public lands bill last Monday, great pieces of Oregon were immediately surrounded by invisible lines.

Everything inside those lines is now wilderness, the most protected class of federal land. In simple terms, that means no logging or non-human-powered recreation.
Also in Oregon, workers have begun demolishing the Savage Rapids Dam:
By December, the northern half of the dam will be gone, and with it two decades of bitter battles over trying to keep what had become a crumbling symbol of a bygone era when rugged pioneers bent nature to their needs.

Construction of a cofferdam will keep fish from swimming over the dam for three weeks, but after that salmon and steelhead will be able to freely swim past the site, as they did before the dam was built in 1921.
(h/t: ErinPDX.)

The EPA has objected to three more mountaintop-removal operations:
The operations in question are one Virginia (the permit for which the EPA wants revoked) and two in West Virginia, one of which is owned by Massey Energy. In all three cases, the EPA says that they likely are in violation of the Clean Water Act.

In similar comments to when the first objection letters were issued, the National Mining Association said that the letters underscore fears of a de factor moratorium on the process of mountaintop removal coal mining.
I'm pleased to see that Hillary Clinton is calling for restrictions on Antarctic tourism:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday urged tighter controls on cruise ships and tourists in Antarctica to prevent further environmental damage to the fragile region.

Addressing an international meeting on both the Antarctic and the Arctic, Clinton said as tourism increases to Antarctica there must be more regulations governing that travel.
An inexpensive and versatile solar cooker has won a climate design award:
A $6 cardboard box that uses solar power to cook food, sterilize water and could help 3 billion poor people cut greenhouse gases, has won a $75,000 prize for ideas to fight global warming.

The "Kyoto Box," named after the United Nations' Kyoto Protocol that seeks to cut emissions of greenhouse gases, is aimed at billions of people who use firewood to cook.
Speaking of which, here's an oven made from a Blockbuster drop box, and a DIY solar heater made from beer cans.

Diatoms are the model for a new type of solar cell:
Engineers at Oregon State University have discovered a way to use an ancient life form to create one of the newest technologies for solar energy, in systems that may be surprisingly simple to build compared to existing silicon-based solar cells.

The secret: diatoms. These tiny, single-celled marine life forms have existed for at least 100 million years and are the basis for much of the life in the oceans, but they also have rigid shells that can be used to create order in a natural way at the extraordinarily small level of nanotechnology.

By using biology instead of conventional semiconductor manufacturing approaches, researchers at OSU and Portland State University have created a new way to make "dye-sensitized" solar cells, in which photons bounce around like they were in a pinball machine, striking these dyes and producing electricity. This technology may be slightly more expensive than some existing approaches to make dye-sensitized solar cells, but can potentially triple the electrical output.
New research suggests that public schools may not necessarily be inferior to private ones. Go figure!
Public middle-grades schools placed under private management in 2002 as part of a state-run overhaul of the Philadelphia School District did not keep pace with the rest of the city's public schools, according to a study published in the American Journal of Education.

The study, which tracked schools through 2006, found that test scores had improved in the privatized schools, but scores in the rest of the city's public schools improved at a much faster rate, leaving the privatized schools in the dust.
A judge has blocked a Texas policy that prevents legal immigrants from getting driver's licenses and ID cards:
State District Judge Orlinda L. Naranjo in Austin issued a temporary injunction and found that DPS acted outside its scope of authority when it adopted the policy last year.

"This case is not about illegal immigrants obtaining driver licenses, it is about legal residents who have been denied or have been threatened a denial of a driver license," Naranjo wrote.
This is a nice story:
A five-year-old green sea turtle named Alison that was attacked by a shark and left with only one flipper faced a lifetime of going around in circles. Given that sea turtles can live up to 150 years, this was a dizzying prospect for the young female.

But Allison was set on the straight and narrow yesterday, after biologists in Texas, USA, fitted her with a black neoprene suit complete with a carbon-fiber dorsal fin that allows her to glide gracefully with other turtles.
(h/t: Tlazolteotl.)

Jordan Barab of the great Confined Space blog has been named Deputy Assistant Secretary for OSHA and Acting Assistant Secretary. Revere explains why this is good news:
If you go back through the archives of Confined Space you'll find post after post taking the Bush administration OSHA to task for falling down on the job of protecting workers' health. Now the hand that typed those posts will be running the agency.

The bottom line here is that workers who would have died under the old regime will now live. Mirabile dictu!
The FDA has approved a quick test for bird flu:
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said on Tuesday it had approved a fast test for H5N1 bird flu that can show in less than an hour if people are infected.

The test, made by Sunnyvale, California-based Arbor Vita Corporation, should greatly speed up diagnosis and treatment of people infected with avian influenza, the FDA said. Most current tests take hours.
I'm a bit low on entertaining links this week. That said, here's Superior, the Heart of the Man of Commerce. Also, Living in Stereo (via wood s lot). And live volcano sounds (see also this). And images from Hans Christian Andersen's scrapbooks.

Alright, just a few more. Photos by Shigeichi Nagano. Photos by White Stains Darkroom. Photos by Li Wei. Scenes from The Fruit Computer Laboratory. Scenes from the Duke Farms Eagle Cam. Travels in 19th Century Iceland. And five Picturesque Infernos.

Last, a short film from the Library of Congress's new YouTube channel (h/t: The Bioscope.

(Illustration at top: "Särestön kylä" by Reidar Särestöniemi, 1973.)


Anonymous said...

Wonderful. Thank you.

Phila said...

You're very welcome!

Karin said...

You are so in trouble with PETA for that video clip!

Dale said...

Excellent work, as always -- the boxing cats especially so. Now I see what my cats have been trying to suggest.

Quercki said...

Dang! Html errors. (I missed seeing the preview button.) Trying again.

I liked the solar cooker prize. Investigating further...

Click Here For a picture of the cooker

One of the comments says that the solar cooker was invented by Barbara Prosser Kerr, currently 83.

Here's a link to the Kerr-Cole sustainable living center's publications. Ms. Kerr's textbook is second.

She also writes poetry

Anonymous said...

Thank you, phila!

Absolutely wonderful news about Jordan Barab. Makes me fucking hopeful and happy, both.

And it's terrific to see the great state of New York falling further fucking behind more states when it comes to protecting the civil liberties of its citizens.

-- unequal_monica_nyc

Phila said...

You are so in trouble with PETA for that video clip!

It's all part of my plan. I'm hoping that if I agree to remove it, they'll agree to stop exploiting and degrading women in their ads and protests.

The Kenosha Kid said...

Boxing cats! I'm so glad the Library of Congress is finally focusing on the important things!

Libby Spencer said...

I love Friday hope blogging. I'm always in need of a little hope by the end of the week...