Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Hope Blogging

I'm insanely busy (or busily insane) this week, so I'll post what I can in the time allotted to me, and you — I'm hoping — will post any stories I missed in comments. Info on activism would be particularly welcome (e.g., a list of other rich and horrible people we could pretend to be in order to have a friendly chinwag with Scott Walker).

Alright, then. As you undoubtedly know, Teh Kenyan Usurper has taken an important step toward imposing sharia on these United States:

For the first time, the president of the United States and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States have said with one clear voice that a law which denies married same-sex couples equal protection under the Constitution is not only wrong but also unconstitutional.
Can federally mandated Tayammum be far behind?

Blog of Rights has more:
The government's shift of position is also amazing because of what it means not just for DOMA, but for LGBT rights more broadly. If the courts ultimately agree that heightened scrutiny applies whenever the government treats gay people badly, then it's not just DOMA that becomes hard to defend. So do state adoption and foster parenting laws that exclude gay people. And states' refusals to provide health care benefits or pension protections to the domestic partners of state workers. And public schools' decisions to ignore anti-LGBT harassment or exclude same-sex couples from the prom. And government rules like the military separation pay disparity that we've challenged in court. Heightened scrutiny will affect every nook and cranny of LGBT rights law.
Nine cave-dwelling invertebrates (and I don't mean these ones) have gained ESA protections:
In response to a lawsuit from the Center for Biological Diversity, Citizen’s Alliance for Smart Expansion and Aquifer Guardians in Urban Areas, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today proposed to designate nearly 7,000 acres as critical habitat for nine rare, cave-dwelling invertebrates in Bexar County, Texas. Today’s announcement reverses a previous Bush-era critical habitat designation of about 1,000 acres, which left out a number of places where the species live and failed to protect sufficient area around the caves.

“This nearly sevenfold increase in protected habitat gives these nine unique Texas species a chance at survival,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director for the Center. “With just a modest restriction on urban sprawl, these species that occur nowhere else on Earth may be saved.”

Yet another inquiry into the stolen CRU e-mails has cleared climate scientists of any wrongdoing:

U.S. officials on Thursday cleared scientists of charges that they manipulated data about climate change in e-mails that were stolen from a British university in 2009, triggering a climate scandal.

The Department of Commerce's Inspector General conducted the independent review of e-mails taken from the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England, at the request of Republican Senator James Inhofe, a climate change skeptic.

Being as Republicans are passionately opposed to wasting taxpayer dollars, this will undoubtedly be the final investigation into this non-issue.

Apparently, it's still possible for hard-right rhetoric to go too far:

An Indiana Deputy Attorney General has lost his job after saying in a private Twitter that “live ammunition” should be used on union protestors in Wisconsin.

Deputy A.G. Jeffrey Cox “is no longer” with the Attorney General’s office, said a terse release. “Civility and courtesy toward all members of the public are very important to the Indiana Attorney General’s office,” it added.

Researchers in one of Madasgascar's forests have identified a new bird, whose Latin name I may well decide to bestow upon my firstborn:
The rich and unique biodiversity of Madagascar has a new member: a forest dwelling bird in the rail family, dubbed Mentocrex beankaensis. In 2009 US and Malaygasy scientists conducted a survey in Madagascar's dry Beanka Forest. They discovered several new species, of which the new rail is the first to be described.
The National Park Service has taken steps to restore the natural soundscape of California's Muir Woods:

A decade after the agency resolved to restore natural sounds to this park in a metropolitan area of seven million people, managers at Muir Woods, in Marin Country just north of San Francisco, have made big strides in vanquishing intrusive noise. Now the background sounds are dominated by the burbling rush of Redwood Creek, the soft sibilant breeze that stirs the redwood branches, the croak of a crow.

Maryland has suspended its grotesque policy of demanding Facebook passwords from job applicants:
The ACLU of Maryland sent a letter to Public Safety Secretary Gary Maynard informing him that demanding Officer Collins' Facebook password was a gross breach of privacy and raised significant legal concerns under the Federal Stored Communications Act and Maryland state law. We're pleased to report that yesterday, Secretary Maynard wrote back and informed us that he has suspended the social media password requirement for 45 days pending a review of this policy!
Senate Democrats want to put the Social Security trust fund in a lockbox and insulate it from a broader budget-cutting package designed to reduce the national deficit....
Make of this story what you will:

Transphorm chief executive Umesh Mishra, a professor of electric and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, claims the startup's gallium nitride technology eliminates 90 percent of the energy waste when current is converted from AC to DC and back. Given that 10 percent of the United States' electricity production is lost when converted to different currents, Transphorm's technology could save terawatts of energy if widely adopted.

"Imagine taking the West Coast off the grid," he said, noting that Transphorm could save as much electricity as California and the Pacific Northwest consume.

While we await the long-heralded coming of our techno-Messiah, North Carolina's Carteret Community College has launched a fleet of bicycles:

The college’s Sustainability Committee unveiled its Green Bikes ride sharing program this month with a simple invitation for students and staff: See a green bike, ride a green bike.

The green-painted bicycles are now out and parked in bike racks or leaning against buildings, waiting for the next rider. If a green bike is sitting outside one of the buildings, it’s there for the next person heading to another class or switching buildings.

Tomorrow, cities all over the country will hold rallies in support of workers' rights. You can find a local rally, and sign up to attend it, by clicking here.

Apropos of which, a comment from Doug Hill:

I would rather be governed by the first five hundred people in the telephone book than by the CEOs of the Fortune 500.

Lest we forget: Street scenes, and a taxonomy of city blocks. The Pre-Cinema Project (via The Bioscope). Related: Giovanni Fontana's Castellum Umbrarum. A jape, or jest. Justice and public space. A visit to subterranean Helsinki. A visit to Scotia. The Daily Exposure. And who among us does not love microscopic snapshots? Or photos of wildlife?

Here's a song for you, as well:

(Photo at top by Todd McLellan, via things.)


Elias said...

"For the first time, the president of the United States and the chief law enforcement officer of the United States have said with one clear voice that a law which denies married same-sex couples equal protection under the Constitution is not only wrong but also unconstitutional."

Well, there's always this to point to...

Anonymous said...

I love the bikes. Just imagine if you could have a whole city with bikes like that.

Karin said...

The Florence Reese song is great, and here's a terrific rendition of The Rebel Girl introduced by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and sung by Hazel Dickens.