Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

The Egyptian Parliament has added 64 seats that are reserved for women:

32 new constituencies, comprising two seats each, will be created nationwide to accept applications for running for the parliament from women only. The amendment will take effect starting from Egypt’s elections due next year for at least two legislative elections.
Australian has eased visa restrictions on victims of sex trafficking:
[T]he change will allow women to be granted a temporary visa for up to 45 days even if they do not cooperate with police.

They will also be entitled to support services to help them with legal advice, counselling and accommodation.
Obama has granted some benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees:
President Obama signed an executive order granting some benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees Wednesday, calling it "a historic step" but promising more action to come.
In the UK, the House of Lords has ruled against the use of secret evidence in terrorism trials:
The result was a resounding victory for justice: a unanimous verdict from all nine Law Lords against the government. They stated that a trial in which the accused can’t see or challenge the evidence against him is not a fair trial and is an abuse of basic human rights.
In the USA, anti-immigrant demagogy seems to be on the wane:
According to the Progressive States Network (PSN), budget deficits have meant that states are unwilling to pass legislation with a cost attached. Immigration is less of a wedge issue in 2009—that is, politicians seem less willing to push anti-immigrant platforms because candidates who did so in the 2008 elections lost.

PSN also reports that anti-immigrant legislators have been marginalized in 2009. Bills introduced by Texas State Rep. Leo Berman, a notorious anti-immigrant voice, got no traction, even from within his own party. No votes were taken on any of his 9 anti-immigrant bills.
A wolverine was seen in Colorado for the first time since 1919:
The wolverine was once native to found in Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, and California, but were mostly wiped out by around 1930.
Photo: Mark Packila © WCS.

Russia is creating a large Arctic park:
The 'Russian Arctic' park is located on the northern part of Novaya Zemlya, a long island that arcs out into the Arctic Ocean between the Barents and Kara Seas. It also includes some adjacent marine areas.

WWF has long been lobbying for the park, which is also a key area for walrus, wild reindeer and bird population. The park creation excludes all industrial activities.

"This is exactly the sort of thing we need to see from Arctic governments," says Neil Hamilton Director of WWF International’s Arctic Programme.
The marbled murrelet will retain ESA protections:
Rebuffing the anti-science stance of the Bush administration, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today released a report finding that continued protection of marbled murrelets in Washington, Oregon, and California is required. This report replaces a 2004 review in which Bush political appointees reversed scientific and legal conclusions to try to eliminate protections for murrelets. The new report finds that the tri-state murrelet population is distinct and separate from other populations in Canada and Alaska.

“Science has won the day,” said Noah Greenwald, biodiversity program director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “The marbled murrelet is severely imperiled and needs the protections of the Endangered Species Act to survive.”

Thirty-one other endangered birds will receive the protection they need:
The Center for Biological Diversity reached a settlement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service yesterday that will compel the agency to provide protection for scores of the world’s most imperiled bird species and come into compliance with the Endangered Species Act. The Service has committed itself to publishing final listing determinations for six species of foreign birds and proposed listings for an additional 25 species, in accordance with a negotiated timeline that terminates on December 29, 2009.
The United Nations Environment Programme's World Conservation Monitoring Centre has launched a new online system that will help scientists monitor marine protected areas:
"Obtaining and promoting accurate information on marine protected areas is a top priority. I am therefore delighted on World Oceans Day that we are launching WDPA – Marine as another critical tool alongside Protect Planet Ocean and Google Ocean to show the world how much of our seas are protected," said Dan Laffoley, Chair of IUCN's WCPA – Marine. "These new innovative approaches show everyone the urgent need for governments and all of us to radically scale up MPA networks as well as the ambition and effectiveness by which we manage marine resources."
(h/t: Peacay.)

Bjorn Lomborg is calling for a carbon tax.
According to the paper, Lomborg says a carbon tax "could address what he calls a 'market failure' in the development of solar-power systems and wind turbines effective enough and cheap enough to compete with fossil fuels."
Lomborg is such a dreadful person that his support is arguably less meaningful than his opposition. Still, it's safe to say that he's caused a fair number of heads to explode this week, so let us gather rosebuds while we may.

China's ban on plastic bags allegedly saved 1.6 million tons of oil:
A ban on super thin plastic bags cut the use of 40 billion bags, reduced plastic bag usage by 66 percent and saved China 1.6 million tons of petroleum, according to recent government estimates, Worldwatch reports.
Worldchanging reports on a solar autoclave:
The autoclave piggybacks off of solar cooking boxes already in wide use in rural Nicaragua. The cooking boxes, which are about the size of several extra-large pizza boxes stacked on top of one another, placed on waist-high legs, are used to cook eggs, plantains, cakes -- everything, that is, "except tortillas," Lori Hanna says. Hanna is the engineering student at the University of Dayton in Ohio who launched the project after spending two months in Sabana Grande, Nicaragua, living and working amongst Las Mujeres Solares, a community group that is using the energy of the sun to patch the country's notoriously poor energy grid.
I have mixed emotions about this art installation at the Schönbrunn Zoo in Vienna, but on the whole, I think it's worthwhile:
In one animal enclosure, the German duo have half-submerged a car in a watering hole used by the resident rhinos. In another enclosure, penguins frolic in the shadow of an oil pump, and in yet another, alligators must share their modest bayou with a bathtub and a monster truck tire.

According to the artists, these scenes of ecological nightmares are “experimental set-up[s]” in which “the viewer is forced to reconsider traditional modes of animal presentation and simultaneously to question the authenticity of concepts which are restaging 'natural' environments while they are increasingly endangered.”
While I share Pruned's loathing of golf courses and golf culture, I was slightly heartened to learn that "golf courses are all but weaned from municipal fresh-water systems, with 86 percent now using some other source, liked recycled effluent water, surface water or water treated by reverse osmosis."

The Telegraph has an interesting article on the planned shrinking of American cities:
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.
The photo at the top is by Andrzej Kramarz, from his series Things, which details arrangements of goods at Krakow's flea markets. In related news, glass negatives from 1930s Poland. Initial images from the Herschel telescope. A living chair. And 57 photographs by Emmett Gowin:

I've had this Raindrop Melody Maker running all morning (via things). It goes well with the photos at Across the Great Divide, and with the music drifting in from the other room. It'd probably go just as well with two million pages of 19th-century newspapers (via The Bioscope). Or the rather surreal diagrams from A Beast Book.

Animal hands and luminous spacescapes. Paintings by Walt Kuhn. Lithographs by Cyprien Gaillard. And via Dark Roasted Blend, much-needed considerations of strangely shaped communities and factory decorations.

And, needless to say, a cartoon.


Anonymous said...

Thank fuck for Phila.

Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.

Most are former industrial cities in the "rust belt" of America's Mid-West and North East. They include Detroit, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Memphis.

Wow. This sounds really ambitious.

P.S.: I dig the

-- monica_nyc

Phila said...

I dig the

They're great. It's not just an amazing list of links...they actually have intelligent stuff to say, too. I'm a huge fan.

Cheryl Rofer said...

A wildlife refuge on Novaya Zemlya, hm?

Novaya Zemlya is one of the two nuclear weapon test sites of the Soviet Union. I think the testing was done in the southern part, though, and the park is in the north.

There still seem to be tests (although not full-up nuclear) going on there.

Just wondering how the narration will go on the tour boats as they pass the test site...

Anonymous said...

I think that reclaiming the city is fantastic and I hope it succeeds in many more places. It will make them livable and also add more green spaces to the country which will have a positive impact as the climate changes.

Phila said...

Novaya Zemlya is one of the two nuclear weapon test sites of the Soviet Union. I think the testing was done in the southern part, though, and the park is in the north.

They left that little detail out. That's...interesting.

I think that reclaiming the city is fantastic and I hope it succeeds in many more places.

Ditto. The idea of reducing Detroit to a series of small rural towns was especially appealing.

Jazzbumpa said...

As always, thanks for the hope.

I hope they removed the drive train, and all the other greasy parts and fluids before they stuck that car in the rhino pond.

Phila said...

I hope they removed the drive train, and all the other greasy parts and fluids before they stuck that car in the rhino pond.

Yeah, I wondered about that myself....

grouchomarxist said...

Would it be too much of a confession of my sf geekiness to say the first thing that Telegraph piece reminded me of was the farmers dismantling Trantor's world-city, in Asimov's Second Foundation?

Anyway, check out what one of your links led me to:

Abandoned Russian Polar Nuclear Lighthouses

Phila said...

Anyway, check out what one of your links led me to:

That was actually linked in an earlier FHB, IIRC...

No harm in linking to it again, though!

grouchomarxist said...

Obviously before my wanderings led me here, then. The way my work schedule's been these last couple of months, I've been hard pressed just to find the time to follow and appreciate all the great links in your current FHB posts.

But I'm glad it was still good the second time. Something about "modern" ruins fascinates me, dating back to my childhood, when I spent a lot of time playing around a defunct quarry. I've particularly enjoyed your links to photographers/enthusiasts who apparently share the same quirk.

Plus, what a great setting one of those lighthouses would make for some sort of Arctic nightmare scenario, a la a Russian version of "Who Goes There?" (Sorry, it's the way my mind works.)