Good News Friday

An unusually heavy amount of good news this week! Which is good news! We lead off with a two-fer: an item about protecting the environment and giving our corporate overlords the finger. Without further ado, your weekly progress report:

• A ban on sales of single-use plastic bottles is back in place at Grand Canyon National Park. The ban was approved in 2010 but was reversed when Coca-Cola, makers of Dasani bottled water and a major donor to the National Parks Foundation, had a hissy fit. Cue public outrage over corporate influence at the expense of our national parks and voila! Coca-Cola is told to stuff it. The ban goes into effect March 10.

• Maryland’s state senate has approved same-sex marriage, and the governor is expected to sign the bill. Wow, that’s how many states now?

• Scam operator Goldline Inc., the gold company made famous for sticking by Glenn Beck’s failed Fox News show when no one else would, has been forced to refund $4.5 million to the customers it defrauded.

• Having been thoroughly humiliated on its state mandated rape mandatory ultrasound bill, the Virginia state senate has effectively killed the state’s fetal personhood bill.

Meanwhile, the ultrasound bill still stinks, but at least Virginia women won’t have to undergo state-mandated rape before getting an abortion.

• A New York state judge has ruled that towns can ban fracking and oil drilling, even if the state doesn’t.

• Those “zombie voters” in South Carolina who supposedly voted in the Republican primary? It’s official: they don’t exist.

• Solar grid parity — the point at which solar power is as cost-effective or even cheaper than buying power from the grid — is coming far sooner than anyone expected. According to a new study, grid parity is here in places like California and Hawaii and will arrive in Germany in 2013.

• The Charleston (WV) Gazette has endorsed a single-payer health plan. Yes, the issue is still alive.

Ohio repeals its anti-pit bull law .

• President Obama broke ground on the Smithsonian’s newest facility, the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum is slated to open in 2015.

• Nearly two dozen Catholic nuns have filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court supporting the Affordable Care Act.

• An industrial enzyme manufacturer has developed an enzyme which can pull more ethanol from the cellulose in biowaste.

• Men might not be going extinct after all, say researchers challenging the theory of Y chromosome decay. Yay. You’re saved. {eyeroll}

• The Defense Of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by a Northern California district judge. The Obama Administration has already said it would not defend the law in court.

• New York is looking to ban sales of shark fin.

• Honduran President Porfirio Lobo has pardoned convicted murderer Marco Antonio Bonillo after he saved hundreds of inmates from a prison fire that killed 360 people.

• The Obama Administration is shutting down the flawed 287(g) immigration enforcement program.

• A third indictment has been filed related to the 2010 Upper Big Branch mine disaster which killed 29 West Virginia coal miners. This one is against mine superintendent Gary May, the most senior mine employee to be indicted. Observers cite this latest action as evidence that prosecutors are closing in on officials with mine owner Massey Energy, too.

• Kentucky’s state legislature will vote on a statewide anti-discrimination bill that includes sexual orientation.

• They’re not gonna take it: More than 300,000 organic farmers are suing Monsanto, claiming their GMO plants have contaminated their crops. This is a nice bit of turnabout; Monsanto has sued more than 100 farmers for copyright infringement after its seeds have infiltrated the fields of non-Monsanto farmers.

• More Americans are walking or biking to work: the number of people using this alternate transportation is up 57% since 2000.

• Jesse Furman has been confirmed to sit on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ending the GOP’s five-month-long filibuster of his nomination.

• Cincinnati is poised to become America’s largest city powered entirely by renewable energy.

• Shirley Sherrod’s defamation lawsuit against Andrew Breitbart has survived a motion to dismiss. Sherrod, a former U.S. Dept. of Agriculture employee, was the victim of one of Breitbart’s famous smear campaigns, in which a doctored video made it appear she was confessing to discriminating against white farmers in her capacity as the USDA’s Georgia State Director of Rural Development. She was forced to resign in the immediate aftermath.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Employment at Nissan USA’s Smyrna, TN plant is expected to double over the next year and a half as production of EV batteries and the Nissan Leaf is added to the line:

Nissan said 1,000 jobs would be filled over the next year to staff a second shift on the plant’s truck line to assemble the JX, the first of which was shown Monday, and a redesigned Nissan Pathfinder crossover that comes later this year.

In addition, about 1,300 workers will be hired to make lithium-ion batteries for the Nissan Leaf electric car and to add Leaf production to the Smyrna plant in early 2013, the company said earlier. The plant currently employs 3,500 workers.

The battery facility is adjacent to the assembly plant and is nearing completion.

• Three Nashville restaurants have been nominated for James Beard awards. Happy to say I’ve eaten at two of them.

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12 Comments

Filed under Good News

12 responses to “Good News Friday

  1. Pingback: Good news? Really « A Little Egg Berry

  2. Thanks, we need good news every so often.

  3. I love the good news Friday edition – it’s really needed. I am excited that people have banded together to take on Monsanto – I would even be willing to donate to their lawsuit if that were possible. And thanks for the update on the Shirley Sherrod lawsuit against Bitefart – - I wonder from time to time how that is going, and I hope she Cleans. Him . Out.

  4. Randy

    In Re: Virginia. Outrage matters. My faith in humanity was restored…for about 15 minutes. Now it’s back to the abyss.

    Peace to all who gather here.

  5. I was really interested in the Bloom Box technology as a source for cleaner energy. It’s not solar, but at least it’s better than boiling water as a modern technology, like nuclear power. I just hope it’s not a scam.

    Of course, we still have the clown legislature of the country.

  6. Jess

    Thank you. I am simply deilghted to read so much good news in one place.

  7. ThresherK

    I’m fascinated by what will be the new logistics of getting drinking water to our grandest National Parks in the arid west, especially for the Grand Canyon. Slaking rafters’ thirst as they go down the (non-potable) Colorado, which is so tapped out it doesn’t reach the ocean most years, has a “water, water everywhere” tinge to it.

    And good luck to Goldline trying to refund mere “fiat money” to its customer base!

    • You’re allowed to bring water in, they just aren’t going to sell it in their visitor’s centers and vending machines. And they will add more water fountains so people can refill their own containers.

      • ThresherK

        Yeah, I saw that part. But as someone who has friends who’ve worked there, I’m not all sure about how “hardcore” the average visitor is about bringing their own H2O in, and the effects of that change.

        I read somewhere (no cite, sorry) that the great majority of visitors to the GC go to one spot on the South Rim. And I’m convinced that Americans now expect to be able to buy water everywhere–every single place they go. It will take some “unlearning” there.

        On the other hand, the expeditioners–the sort who wear out the things they buy at REI or Eastern Mountain Sports—were probably always well-prepared in the first place.

      • Well the majority of visitors won’t have a problem, because now they’re selling refillable bottles and adding water stations where people can refill them. So those visitors who aren’t prepared with their own water will have ample opportunity to get prepared and I don’t foresee a rash of dehydration emergencies.

      • ThresherK

        Oh, I wasn’t really thinking “emergencies”. I was doing the engineering thing of thinking systematically, comparing new ways of moving water around to (say) redistributing packets across the multiple paths of a network when one device fails.

        (Any further attempts to deny my geekness are helpless, I know.)

  8. themadkansan

    YAY PIBBLES!!! :D