Friday, October 08, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

A right-wing Christian group has decided to stop funding an anti-gay event:

The group’s president, Alan Chambers, told CNN that the event has become too divisive [!!] and confrontational.

"All the recent attention to bullying helped us realize that we need to equip kids to live out biblical tolerance and grace while treating their neighbors as they'd like to be treated, whether they agree with them or not," Chambers told CNN on Wednesday.
That's one way of looking at it, I suppose. But it's not very muscular.

A couple of conservative activists are calling for an end to the death penalty:
From our conservative perspective, there are other reasons we oppose the death penalty. It is an expensive government program with the power to kill people. Conservatives don't trust the government is always capable, competent, or fair with far lighter tasks.

When it comes to life and death, mistakes are made, or perhaps worse, bad decisions are made. States have wrongly convicted people based on false confessions and inaccurate eyewitness identification. In some of these cases, the real perpetrator was identified decades after the crime occurred. Since DNA evidence is not available in the majority of murder cases, other wrongful convictions based on similar types of evidence may never come to light.
Perhaps we could extend this logic to "far lighter tasks" like bombing foreign capitals.

The FTC is working on new regulations to prevent greenwashing.
Among the proposed changes: Marketers shouldn't use labels like "green" or "eco-friendly" because they're too vague; if something's labeled as "biodegradable," then the entire package should "completely break down and return to nature" within a year; and if something's called "non-toxic" it should be non-toxic for humans and for the environment generally.
Public comments are welcome.

Zion National Park has completed the park system's first soundscape plan:
For the first time, soundscape measurement metrics that have been in development at the NPS Natural Sounds Program office in Ft. Collins, Colorado, will be driving forces in ongoing Park management and assessment procedures. One of these metrics is the “noise-free interval,” or average time between the audible presence of human sound. According to Frank Turina, an NPS Natural Sound Program planner, “Now it’s two to three minutes before you hear a human-caused sound, usually involving an overflight, and we want to expand that to a seven-minute period. If we meet that goal we will reassess the situation to see if a longer interval is warranted.”

While some environmental groups had pushed for the Park Service to set a higher standard for back country visitors, this first step, if successful, would effectively reduce sound intrusions to less than half their current level.
Chile has created a large marine preserve around a small island:

Today, the Chilean government announced the creation of a large marine reserve around tiny and remote Sala y Gómez island in the Pacific ocean. The Waitt Foundation, Oceana, and National Geographic mounted a March 2010 expedition to document marine diversity in waters surrounding the island. The government's move represents a more than 100-fold increase in the expanse of Chile's marine protected areas....

"Sala y Gómez is one of the last undisturbed and relatively pristine places left in the ocean," said Dr. Enric Sala, a marine ecologist and National Geographic Ocean Fellow. "The island and its surrounding ocean ecosystem, which includes deep seamounts with unique marine life, have global value. These seamounts are very vulnerable to fishing activities, and this inspirational step marks Chile's potential as a global leader in ocean conservation."

The DoE has agreed to a cleanup deadline at the horrendous Hanford site:
The decree gives DOE more time for important and difficult environmental cleanup work at Hanford but also requires DOE to answer directly to the court if it misses new deadlines. The consent decree represents the beginning of a new level of accountability for the federal government for Hanford nuclear reservation cleanup over the next 40 years, said Rob McKenna, Washington state attorney general, in a statement.
A court has overturned Ohio's ban on labels that identify rBGH-free products:
Earlier this week, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state of Ohio's ban on labels that identify milk as rBST- or rBGH-free, meaning produced without the use of artificial bovine growth hormone. Consumer and organic food groups were jubilant at the Ohio news, which may have far-reaching repercussions not only for all milk, but for genetically engineered foods.
The White House will once again have solar panels:

Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the plans Tuesday in Washington at a conference of local, state, academic and nonprofit leaders aimed at identifying how the federal government can improve its environmental performance.

Former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush both tapped the sun during their days in the White House. Carter in the late 1970s spent $30,000 on a solar water-heating system for West Wing offices. Bush's solar systems powered a maintenance building and some of the mansion, and heated water for the pool.

This means that Obama is the new Carter, which makes him wrong, just like Carter was when he installed solar panels, which had to be removed and incinerated at a cost of eleventy-point-three billion dollars by a highly trained cadre of Reagan-era freedom fighters, each of whom received 12 medals for risking life and limb to restore America's dignity on the world stage.

Some experts believe that Obama's panels are even worse than Carter's, because they remind The American People of turf-marking vandalism like graffiti and miscegenation. Carter's panels had a certain pathos, and were more like a weird-looking sweater on some sad, disoriented old man, according to Washington insiders.

And it only gets worse:
Yesterday, the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar approved the nation's first-ever large-scale solar energy plants to be built on public lands. Both plants, located in California, are first in a series of clean energy projects under final review by the Department of Interior (DOI) that are to be built on public lands. The California projects will have access to 6,800 acres that could produce up to 754 megawatts, enough to power up to 566,000 typical homes.
America Held Hostage: Day One!

West Virginia seems to have a lot of geothermal power:

Researchers have uncovered the largest geothermal hot spot in the eastern United States. According to a unique collaboration between Google and academic geologists, West Virginia sits atop several hot patches of Earth, some as warm as 200˚C and as shallow as 5 kilometers. If engineers are able to tap the heat, the state could become a producer of green energy for the region.

Obama has repealed language in the Dodd-Frank bill that allowed the SEC to hide its records:

This broad and unnecessary language would have given the SEC the blanket authority to block the release of records in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, and to withhold records in response to subpoenas filed by third-party civil litigants, even if such records were needed to expose corruption or incompetence at the agency.

The EPA is blocking 11 coal-mining permits in Kentucky:

It’s the first time in about 20 years the federal agency has made such a move in Kentucky, but it is similar to actions that it’s made in other Appalachian states, where regulators are complaining that the EPA is overstepping its bounds.

In objection letters about the permits from its Atlanta office to the Kentucky Division of Water, the EPA cited the state’s own assessment of poor water quality in the regions where the permits are sought. And it said state regulators, in moving to approve the permits, failed to conduct analyses to determine whether proposed discharges from new surface mining would likely violate state water quality standards.
During a 60-day expedition to Papua New Guinea, researchers found 200 new species:
Half of the new species were spiders, but the team also found two new mammals, nine new plants, two dozen frogs, and multitude of insects. Most surprising was the discovery of at least two species so unique that they are likely to be assigned their own genus.

Photo © Piotr Naskrecki/iLCP.

Researchers also found new coral reefs in the Mediterraean:
This area apparently stretches over a few kilometers, 700 meters under the surface and some 30-40 km off the coast of Tel Aviv. According to the researchers, this southeastern region of the Mediterranean has only sparse sea life and therefore the discovery is in fact parallel to discovering an oasis in the middle of an arid expanse. "We did not expect, know, or even imagine that we would come across these reefs and certainly not such large ones. It's like finding a flourishing oasis in the middle of the desert," said Dr. Yizhaq Makovsky, who directed the University of Haifa control center for the project.
Bank of America has halted foreclosure sales nationally:

Charlotte, N.C.-based Bank of America Corp., the nation's largest bank, said Friday it would stop sales of foreclosed homes in all 50 states as it reviews documents used to process foreclosures....

A document obtained last week by the Associated Press showed a Bank of America official acknowledging in a legal proceeding that she signed thousands of foreclosure documents a month and typically didn't read them. The official, Renee Hertzler, said in a February deposition that she signed 7,000 to 8,000 foreclosure documents a month.
Scotland may run on 100-percent renewable energy by 2025:
While many countries are complaining about the Copenhagen requirements, other countries are striving to go above and beyond the call of duty. Last week Northern Ireland stated that they were hoping to have 40 percent of the country running off renewable energy. This week, new First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond went even further, stating that the country could be running off of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

This ambitious goal happened a week after the SNP administration upped Scotland's renewable energy goal from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020
(h/t: Karin.)

All too human landscapes in southwest Florida. Roadtown. An abandoned line of the Moscow Metro. Ptolemy's map of Germania, deciphered (via Cheryl). Newly discovered footage of the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco. And some striking images from North Korea:

The Urban Speaker. Some items relating to Heathrow Airport (via things). An exoskeleton for wheelchair users. The Adrspach-Teplice Rocks. Iceland digitized. Top discoveries by the Census of Marine Life. Typographic maps. And Mexico's Cave of Crystals:

Right-Wing Radio Duck. Apropos of which, right-wing icons and their neverending struggle against alien sociologists (via Peacay). "It's decorative gourd season, motherfuckers!" Work Hard and Starve. An audio letter from Ethiopia. And Io in true color:

Here's a movie, too.

(Image at top: "Desert Landscape" by Sidney Nolan.)


Karin said...

That's a really weird looking critter. Like something out of Dr. Seuss.

Anonymous said...

If Scotland can do it, why can't we? (Oh yeah, there's that little problem of the tar sands...)

Emily said...

Obama's solar panels double as death panels.

chris said...

It's Thanksgiving in Canada today.
Happy decorative gourd season!