Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

Voters in Kalamazoo, MI passed an ordinance banning discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity:

The ordinance will add gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals to an existing Kalamazoo city ordinance banning discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations.
New York has enacted new protections for reproductive health workers:
Governor David A. Paterson today signed five bills into law including a bill to protect women’s access to reproductive health care facilities and a bill to ensure voters’ access to their correct polling places. Additionally, the Governor vetoed two bills that would have cost taxpayers $18.6 million over the next two years.

The signed bills include A.8924/S.6112, which provides enhanced penalties if a person causes physical injury to someone seeking to provide, obtain or assist in reproductive health care services. The bill was written shortly after the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, a tragedy that many health workers believe has emboldened those who engage threatening behavior and violent rhetoric at reproductive health care clinics.
California has passed a law against gender rating:
After Jan. 1, Health insurers and HMOs won't be able to charge women higher rates than men for the same type of individual policy.

A new law signed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger earlier this week prohibits such discrimination, which resulted in women paying anywhere from 5% to 40% more then men for some coverages.
An Illinois state court has blocked implementation of that state's parental notification bill:
In a legal challenge brought by the ACLU, an Illinois state court yesterday issued an emergency order blocking a law that prevents teens from having an abortion unless they notify a parent or go to court. This victory ensures that teens throughout Illinois will continue to be safe and able to obtain the care that they need.
Although Maine's narrow defeat of same-sex marriage was disappointing, to say the least, progress was achieved elsewhere:
[I]t appears that Mark Kleinschmidt, an openly gay man, has been elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Detroit, St. Petersburg, Akron, Maplewood, Minnesota, and SALT LAKE CITY all elected their first openly gay or lesbian city council members.

Think about that last one for a minute. Salt Lake City, home of the headquarters of the Mormon Church, elected their first openly gay city council member. If that’s not a sign of progress, I’m not sure what is.
The Louisiana justice of the peace who refused to issue marriage licenses to interracial couples has resigned:
[Mary] Landrieu said Bardwell's refusal to marry the couple reflected terribly on the state.

"By resigning ... and ending his embarrassing tenure in office, Justice Bardwell has finally consented to the will of the vast majority of Louisiana citizens and nearly every governmental official in Louisiana ... We are better off without him in public service," she said.
In India, women who belong to an "untouchable" caste have created their own newspaper:
Many of the dozen or so women on the staff were beaten or sexually abused as children, married off young, endured abusive marriages and fought mightily for an education and a divorce. Often, the newspaper provides them with a voice on important issues for the first time in their lives along with a sense of confidence and purpose.

The paper is also a labour of love. Not only do they write the stories, which appear in a local minority language, they also edit, handle layout, proofread and solicit ads for its two editions. Staff members, paid between about €40 and €95 a month, spend several days each week lugging copies to distant villages, some only accessible by hiking trails.
The US is engaging diplomatically with Burma:
Washington's policy shift came after more than a decade of sanctions failed to force Burma to implement democratic reforms or release the country's estimated 2,200 political prisoners.

Campbell's visit comes amid signs that the junta may be willing to soften its stance against Aung San Suu Kyi, who said recently she supported Washington's fresh diplomatic approach.
(h/t: Cheryl Rofer.)

Spain understands that the nation that controls magnetism controls the universe.
Instead of moving goods on resource-intensive trains, Spain-based technology company Novateq Guerrero SNL wants to build out a different kind of transportation network–one that uses super-powerful magnets to propel vehicles. Novateq has already developed a prototype of its system, which uses Neodymium magnets, or rare-earth magnets, as a driving force. The magnets are 9 times more powerful than conventional models.

Novateq’s network leverages the attraction and repulsion of Neodymium-based magnetic fields modified with steel alloys to propel vehicles at will. The system is both simple and straightforward — it only requires occasional maintenance and lubrication, and it is expected to last much longer than other magnetically-powered transportation systems.
Putting boat tails on vehicles could save fuel and reduce emissions:
An articulated lorry was driven for a period of one year with a boat tail (of varying length) and one year without a boat tail. The improved aerodynamics, depending on the length of the boat tail, resulted in reduced fuel consumption (and emissions!) of up to 7.5 percent. The optimum boat tail length proved to be two metres.
The EPA will impose stricter standards on PVC plants:
The Environmental Protection Agency will set new nationwide emission standards for makers of polyvinyl chloride, commonly known as the plastic PVC, under a settlement with environmental groups announced Thursday.

EPA has agreed to set emission standards by July 29, 2011, for PVC manufacturers as part of a settlement with three environmental groups that sued EPA last year for failing to impose emission standards on PVC manufacturers in Louisiana.
Organized citizens have thwarted yet another coal plant:
We salute our tough band of local residents in South Dakota and Minnesota (the plant was proposed for northeastern South Dakota, near the border with Minnesota), who spent the last five years fighting this dirty coal plant. The Sierra Club also partnered with grassroots, state, and regional organizations during this long and difficult campaign. They knew how bad the air pollution and global warming contributions this plant would spew forth would be, they wanted clean energy for their region, and even when the going got tough, they never gave up.

Stopping the Big Stone II project prevented about 4.7 million tons of CO2, or the equivalent of the pollution from roughly 670,000 cars (substantially more than all the cars in South Dakota) from entering the atmosphere every year.
If you've ever wondered how much paper, adhesive, and energy it takes to put tiny labels on millions of pieces of fruit, you'll probably like this idea:
The laser-labeling system is being advertised as a non-intrusive, tamper-proof method of labeling fruit. So far, it is being used on a number of fruits and vegetables in New Zealand, Australia, and Pacific Rim countries. Once the technology is approved in the U.S., researchers from the University of Florida and the USDA Agricultural Research Service hope that it will be used in Florida’s massive grapefruit industry.

In recent tests, the research team found that laser-labeled Ruby Red grapefruits showed no increase in decay or water loss compared to their sticker-labeled counterparts. The grapefruit also remained free of pathogens–meaning the laser-etching doesn’t provide a new entry point for germs.

Two children suffering from a rare, fatal brain disease have apparently been treated successfully with gene therapy:
[T]he results regaring the gene therapy in adrenoleukodystrophy conducted in France have just been published in the prestigious journal Science. Two children have been treated and their diseases have been halted. The children are doing well, which is unexpected for a disease destroying the brain in a few months. This discovery opens up treatment perspectives for numerous widespread diseases.
A new study suggests that nontoxic pest control works better than repeated applications of insecticides:
A single use of such techniques in 13 New York City apartment buildings eliminated substantially more cockroaches and mice than repeated professional applications of pesticides in other buildings, according to a new study by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Columbia University and the New York City Housing Authority.

In addition, asthma-triggering allergens related to cockroaches were between 40 and 70 percent lower in the residences using preventive techniques than those using standard insecticides, according to the study.
In Scotland, live oysters have been found decades after they were declared extinct:
Dr Janet Brown is also based at the Institute of Aquaculture. She said: "We thought that they had been overfished and it was pollution that had caused them to die out.

"Obviously some of them had survived and with improving water quality in the Forth there's no reason why we shouldn't be able to re-establish them."
This is fairly astonishing:
When small earthquakes shake the central U.S., citizens often fear the rumbles are signs a big earthquake is coming. Fortunately, new research instead shows that most of these earthquakes are aftershocks of big earthquakes (magnitude 7) in the New Madrid seismic zone that struck the Midwest almost 200 years ago....

"This sounds strange at first," said the study's lead author, Seth Stein, the William Deering Professor of Geological Sciences in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. "On the San Andreas fault in California, aftershocks only continue for about 10 years. But in the middle of a continent, they go on much longer."
All this and cartozoology, too. Also: The Ern Malley Poetry Hoax (via wood s lot). Dutch picture books. Maps by Eduard Imhof. And drawings by Emma Kunz.

In other news: Grammar in Rhyme, Glottal Opera, and Okkulte Stimmen. The long string instrument. The Wood Type Museum. The spatuletailed hummingbird. A collection of dirty pictures (via Coudal). And autochromes by Charles Corbet.

Here's a short educational film, just to round things out.

(Photo at top by Insomnia. Click the link to see lots more.)


Anonymous said...

new research instead shows that most of these earthquakes are aftershocks of big earthquakes (magnitude 7) in the New Madrid seismic zone that struck the Midwest almost 200 years ago.



Chris Tucker said...

Science, it works!