Friday, December 17, 2010

Friday Hope Blogging

The European Court on Human Rights has ruled against Ireland's abortion ban:

Ireland's constitutional ban on abortion violates the rights of pregnant women to receive proper medical care in life-threatening cases, the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday in a judgment that harshly criticized Ireland's long inaction on the issue.

The judgment from the Strasbourg, France-based court will put Ireland under pressure to draft a law extending limited abortion rights to women whose pregnancies represent a potentially fatal threat to their own health.

The U.S. government has filed a lawsuit against BP:
The federal government today filed suit against BP under the Clean Water Act and other laws, seeking civil penalties for the discharge of millions of gallons of oil and other pollutants into the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon explosion. The lawsuit will join hundreds of other lawsuits over the Gulf oil spill disaster, including the Center for Biological Diversity’s $19 billion Clean Water Act, suit filed against the oil giant in June.

“We’ve been waiting for months for the federal government to file suit against BP for the devastating oil spill in the Gulf,” said Charlie Tebbutt, attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. “With all the players now at the table, we look forward to co-prosecuting this case with the federal government to hold BP accountable for the worst environmental disaster in American history.”

Mexico is undertaking an ambitious LED streetlight project:

LED lights are coming to Mexico in a big way — Quintana Roo’s Estate Governor Félix González Canto recently announced during the UN climate change conference in Cancun that the municipality of Othón Blanco will replace 25,507 streetlights with energy-efficient LED versions. The announcement, which was made in conjunction with GE (all light bulbs will be GE Evolve LED cobrahead street lights), marks the largest LED street lighting project in Latin America.

Paterson, NJ hopes to turn an old industrial area into a public attraction:

A 10-member team of archeologists, architects and engineers in May dug under the dense brush and weeds covering the old Allied Textile Printing site to find out how many of the 40 structures and water channels could be restored and incorporated into a national historic park.

What they found was encouraging, researchers said. It included two stories of the Colt Gun Mill, home of the nation's first revolver, as well as remnants of a support base that marked where a wooden flume once carried water to power the gun mill before plunging over a bluff as a 30-foot waterfall.

Australia has issued new restrictions on illegally harvested timber:
The Australian government has announced the creation of new legislation which will put further restrictions on the import of foreign wood products in effort to halt the flow of illegally logged timber. Taking effect next year, the laws will require importers to disclose the sources of all timber products, even paper.
Researchers have found a new lemur in Madagascar:
The squirrel-sized beast is a type of fork-marked lemur, a nocturnal species that feeds on nectar and bark. It belongs to the Phaner genus (which includes four other species) and lives in Daraina, a region in northeast Madagascar that is being pillaged for rosewood, a valuable timber used for making luxury furniture in China.

Photo by Russell A. Mittermeier
A fish thought be be extinct has been rediscovered:
[A] new discovery suggests that a small population of kokanee salmon may have survived.

"I was really surprised," Tetsuji Nakabo, a professor at Kyoto University who led the team that made the discovery said, "this is a very interesting fish—it's a treasure. We have to protect it and not let it disappear again."

Finland will protect most of its remaining northern forests:

Metsahallitus, a forest enterprise controlled by the Finnish government, have agreed to preserve 80 percent of 107,000 hectares of pine forests in northern Finland. The area, which serves as a grazing land for the reindeer, includes tracts of old growth forest.

The decision comes after an 8-year battle by Greenpeace and Finland's indigenous Saami reindeer herders.

California has approved cap-and-trade regulations:
The California Air Resources Board voted 9-1 to adopt cap and trade regulations for AB32, California's 2006 climate law. The move, which establishes the first compliance carbon trading system in the United States, opens the door for carbon offsets generated via forest conservation projects.

The new rules will allow polluting industries to buy and sell emissions allowances. 90 percent of allowances would be free during the early stages of the program, but as the cap tightens, fewer allowances will be available. By 2020 the cap would limit emissions to 1990 levels.
San Jose, CA is the latest city to ban shopping bags:

In a sweeping 10-1 verdict, the San Jose City Council has officially banned all single use plastic shopping bags and barred retailers from giving away paper bags yesterday. The ban will take effect on January 1st 2012 and was pushed along by a mighty campaign by non-profit Save the Bay who estimates that over 1 million single use shopping bags end up in San Francisco Bay every year. San Jose is California’s third largest city making this the largest plastic bag ban in the state.

Also in California, a new agreement will protect 1 million acres of roadless areas from development:

Under the agreement, federal and state agencies, conservationists and ORV users will work together to improve and protect the roadless areas. The Forest Service will reconsider protecting several of the areas permanently as wilderness. Parties will identify roads and trails that are degrading roadless areas; the Forest Service will prioritize these for decommissioning and restoration. While the agency reconsiders the management plans, it will protect all roadless areas from harmful activities, including those that could prevent them from being recommended as wilderness in the future.

And the first molten salt power plant is about to be built:

The most common complaint lodged against solar power is that -- say it with me now -- it's only able to provide power when it's light outside. Solar developers have tried to solve this problem a number of ways, and using molten salt to store the heat is one of the most promising. And the technology is now ready to move beyond the drawing board -- California just approved its first molten salt solar power plant.

And the 100-watt incandescent bulb is about to be banned.

So long 100-watt incandescent light bulbs -- California is ordering them off store shelves starting Jan. 1 in an energy-saving move....

California is starting its phase-out a year early because of state regulations to reduce energy consumption.

Believe it or not, this is happening despite the disapproval of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.

New research suggests that wind turbines have the potential to benefit crops:
Wind turbines in Midwestern farm fields may be doing more than churning out electricity. The giant turbine blades that generate renewable energy might also help corn and soybean crops stay cooler and dryer, help them fend off fungal infestations and improve their ability to extract growth-enhancing carbon dioxide from the air and soil.
Black segregation is at a 100-year low:
New Census figures from 2005 to that black residential segregation has decreased since to a 100-year low. The average black person lives in a neighborhood that is 46 percent black (down from 49 percent in 2000). Residential segregation is by no means a thing of the past—it actually increased in 25 of the 100 largest metropolitan areas—but the numbers are encouraging.
The EPA is accepting public comments on a proposed ban on triclosan:
Triclosan is an antimicrobial substance used in pesticide products, hand sanitizers, toothpaste, and other consumer products. The petitioners claim that the "pervasive and widespread use'' of triclosan poses significant risks to human health and the environment. In addition, the petitioners claim that the agency failed to address the impacts posed by triclosan's degradation products on human health and the environment, failed to conduct separate assessments for triclosan residues in contaminated drinking water and food, and is complacent in seriously addressing concerns related to antibacterial resistance and endocrine disruption. EPA has established a public docket, which contains a copy of the petition and will contain all comments received in response to this notice.
A new study emphasizes the importance of Social Security for women:
Without Social Security, research indicates that about half of women age 65 and older would be living in poverty. With the program in place, the poverty rate for women falls to 12 percent.
History's shadow. The true history of Deacon Giles' Distillery. Photos by Candace Plummer Gaudiani. Photos by Lucy Helton. And assorted frost crystals.

Chalk talk. Photos by Terry Evans. Images from the Abita Mystery House. An early vocoder. Niagara Falls, minus the water. A Thump over the Head with Sampson’s Jawbone. And photos by Maria Gruzdeva.

The Shellackophile. Lunar reconaissance. Sounds of Enceladus. A deserted colony. Retrofuturological prognostications (via Peacay). And photos by Sabine Delcour.

Also, a short seasonal film.

And a much shorter bonus feature.

Alright? Alright.

(Photo at top: "A mixture of 'Sodium Bicarbonate (Baking Soda), Borax, and the stain Orange G' between crossed polars" by Richard Howey.)


chris said...

Oops! Sorry, got lost in English Russia. Again.
Love the lemur with the '70's racing stripes.

grouchomarxist said...

Loved the Vladislav Starevich short! I still say Starevich's "The Mascot" is the weirdest (and coolest) thing I've ever seen -- and I've seen a passel of cool and/or strange things in my time. I've long believed he must have been heavily influenced by Grandville, and this clinches it.

As always, thanks, Phila.

Phila said...

I've long believed he must have been heavily influenced by Grandville, and this clinches it.

Makes sense to me. The vegetable characters in the "Devil's Ball" sequence of "The Mascot" are definitely Grandvillesque.

And as always, you're welcome!