Friday, October 01, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

Telemedicine has improved women's access to RU-486:

[A] pioneering telemedicine program in Iowa has provided the pill to about 1,900 women - with a doctor able to consult with a faraway patient in a video teleconference, then unlock a container by remote control to release the pill. To the alarm of anti-abortion activists, abortion providers in other states are pondering whether similar programs would enable them to serve more women, especially in rural areas.
The United States has apologized for intentionally infecting Guatemalans with venereal disease.

U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

Despite this minor episode of overzealousness, we are and remain Teh Greatest Country Ever, and don't you forget it. (Or else.)

The Denver Women's Correctional Facility has ended a grotesque, degrading strip-search procedure:
Officials at the Denver Women's Correctional Facility (DWCF) today implemented a new strip search policy that no longer allows correctional officers to engage in degrading body cavity searches in which prisoners had been forced to open their labia and, according to some reports, even to pull back the skin of their clitorises.
Connecticut has halted all foreclosures:

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal on Friday ordered a moratorium on all foreclosures by all banks for 60 days--the most radical action taken by a state on issue of document irregularities.

California also expanded the moratorium on foreclosures it announced last week on Ally Financial foreclosures to include those by J.P. Morgan Chase.

(h/t: Atrios.)

A rapid test for drug-contaminated meat could help to save the Indian vulture:
A pilot study in collaboration with the RSPB, the Bombay Natural History Society and the Wildlife Institute of India proved the suitability of the immune test for detecting Diclofenac in animal tissue. The procedure is currently undergoing extensive testing at an Indian vulture-breeding center. However, this method is also suitable for many other fields of application, as shown for instance in studies on Diclofenac contamination of wastewater in Bavaria and Austria. In the meantime the antibody is also being used in clinical environments to study allergic reactions to the drug.
Federal courts have rejected yet another Bush-era environmental anti-regulation:
Two courts this week shot down a 2007 policy issued by the Bush administration that argued that protections for species under the Endangered Species Act could be limited to portions of their range, and that in deciding whether species are endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could ignore loss of historic range. The decisions apply to the Gunnison’s and Utah prairie dogs and follow another recent decision invalidating removal of protection for northern Rocky Mountains gray wolves based on similar reasoning.

“With these decisions, the Bush-era policy is a dead letter and ought to be immediately rescinded by the Obama administration,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director with the Center for Biological Diversity. “By severely undermining protections for endangered species like the gray wolf, Gunnison’s prairie dog and others, this policy is clearly contrary to the letter and spirit of the Endangered Species Act ”

Researchers have found a previously unknown population of a rare bird:
The Baudo oropendola (Psarocolius cassini) has gone from less than a dozen known individuals to nearly a hundred due to the discovery of two new colonies in northwestern Colombia by local conservation group, FundaciĆ³n ProAves. However, the new colonies are located in an unprotected area currently being impacted by deforestation.

George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy which focuses on bird conservation, said in a press release that his organization "is thrilled to have helped fund the research expedition that led to this stunning discovery of these two new colonies of this rare bird. Now we need to work with ProAves to conserve and protect them."

Photo: FundaciĆ³n ProAves
In Chicago, families are occupying a building and demanding that it be turned into a library:

In a largely Hispanic neighbourhood on the lower west side of Chicago, parents and their kids have been occupying a field house, demanding that it be turned into a library instead of being torn down and the land used for a soccer field. This is a neighbourhood where 40% of the students live below the poverty line....

It would cost about a million dollars to fix up La Casita. What does a million dollars get the American military in Afghanistan–a paperclip? Surely President Obama, formerly a resident of Chicago, could turn his sights to these brave and struggling families yearning for books.

The US has strengthened offshore drilling regulations:
Today, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, announced newly tightened regulations for offshore drilling. The rules are effective immediately, but the moratorium on offshore drilling imposed by the Obama administration at the beginning of the spill remains in place. They're aimed at clamping down on some of the key areas that allowed the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon to take place -- stronger oversight for worker training, emergency response, and blowout protectors, to name a few.
The White House has announced its plan to cut GHG emissions by 28 percent.

A large step forward for federal sustainability came this month as the White House released its Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans for nearly every Federal agency. This is the first time that all the agencies have submitted plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs).

The Department of the Interior has a new policy on scientific integrity:

The order establishes codes of conduct for employees engaged in scientific activities or who use science to make decisions, and it requires all bureaus and offices to document and make public scientific or technological findings or conclusions used in decision-making....

Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the scientific integrity program at the Union of Concerned Scientists applauded the new policy. "The principles outlined in the order, if fully implemented, would go a long way toward stopping the manipulation and distortion of science, on everything from underwater oil drilling to wildlife protection," she said in a statement.

Two more cities have rejected the ICE's S-Comm program:

A broad coalition of civil rights groups applaud Santa Clara and Arlington for joining San Francisco in requesting to opt out of ICE’s dangerous fingerprinting program. S-Comm is a program that automatically shares with ICE any fingerprints taken by local law enforcement right after individuals are arrested, even if the criminal charges are eventually dismissed or the result of an unlawful arrest. The program has sparked strong opposition from civil rights organizations, law enforcement, and city officials from Washington, D.C. to San Francisco, over concerns it is being forced on hundreds of counties without any mechanism for oversight or accountability.

A new study details the steep decline in breast cancer deaths:

Sixty years ago, a woman had just a 25 percent chance of living 10 years if she got a breast cancer diagnosis. Now the survival rate is more than 75 percent, U.S. doctors reported on Wednesday.

The study of women treated at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center demonstrates how improvements in treatment and screening have transformed the disease from a virtual death sentence, experts said.

Where a death ray is when you need it. Beach frolics, 1921. The sound of Akkadian. The Paleogene California River. Images from Manzhouli, China. A close-up view of the Campanula. And photos by Alain Delorme.

Gliese 581g or bust. Insect photography. The Yale Papyrus Collection. An interview with Giorgio Agamben (via wood s lot). Isolated building studies. And photos by Sebastian Schutyser.

Wara Wara. A rephotographic survey of East Germany. Street views of Antarctica. Venus' south polar vortex. And Mexican walls.

Last, a short film (via The Bioscope).

(Photo at top by A. Ellis and S. Johnson, from "Floral Mimicry Enhances Pollen Export: the Evolution of Pollination by Sexual Deceit Outside of the Orchidaceae," American Naturalist, November 2010. Via Surprising Science.)


Anonymous said...

I'm always excited to see one of my posts on your Friday hope blogging. The video made me smile. Thanks!

charley said...

Sebastian Schutyser.

well, i wasn't going to say anything, but wow.

the info on the twin towers architect was interesting.