Good News Friday

So much good news this week, y’all! And I’m starting a new gig next week, so forgive me if blogging is light for a while until I get the hang of my new schedule. Without further ado, your weekly Good News:

• Wal-Mart says it won’t fight a minimum wage increase.

• Related: the CEO of Dairy Queen joins the CEO of Subway in debunking the right-wing’s meme that a minimum wage increase will hurt business.

• A federal court has upheld the District of Columbia’s gun control laws. Another rare defeat for the NRA.

• This week in our Awesome Hippie Pope: a rabbi and a Muslim will join Pope Francis’ official papal delegation when he visits Jordan, the West Bank and Israel later this month. It is the first time members of other faiths have been included in a papal delegation.

• Scientists have spotted “Granny,” the world’s oldest-known killer whale, in her home waters off Washington state. Granny is believed to be 103 years old, but she’s still healthy and strong:

According to Discovery News, Granny was once caught in 1967 for use in a sea life park. Ultimately, she was deemed too old for captivity and released. Forty-seven years later, Granny continues to put on her own show each spring for the people of the Pacific Northwest.

You go, girl!

• Three college students bought a $20 sofa at a local thrift store, took it home, and found $40,000 cash stuffed in the cushions. Did they keep it? Spend it on hookers and blow? A trip to Thailand? Nah. They found the 91-year-old bank-fearing widow who stuffed the money in there to begin with, and returned it. Awww. She gave them a $1,000 reward.

• Solar roads and parking lots are here.

• In a Mayo Clinic trial, a woman with incurable blood cancer was treated with one ginormous dose of measles vaccine and her cancer went into remission. This is yet another reason why you want to vaccinate your kids, BTW. (Read the story, it explains it better than I could.)

• Rush Limbaugh’s ratings continue to plummet in large markets. Only a matter of time before he’s back on the far reaches of the AM dial in rural markets, where he started.

• Montana legislator Rep. Ellie Boldman Hill has taken on the NRA over the culture of “vigilante justice” it perpetrates through its endless fearmongering.

• Cool idea out of Oregon to address the need for a “Prius tax” as high-mileage vehicles make the gas tax increasingly ineffective.

• This security camera video of one bad-assed housecat saving a young boy from a vicious dog attack has gone viral, but in case you missed it, you can see it at John Aravosis’ place. The four-year-old tabby, named Tara, is now a national hero. The dog, apparently, will be euthanized. Aravosis also has the video in super slo-mo, you can see the cat just hurl her body into the dog’s at full speed, then chase him off. Really amazing.

• Gov. Brown hints UC may divest from coal, after California’s Stanford University and Pitzer College both announced they would do so earlier this month.

• Louisiana dropped its lawsuit against MoveOn.org over a pro-Obamacare billboard.

• Pakistan, which suffers from chronic energy shortages, is building one of the world’s largest solar farms. When complete by the end of 2016 it will generate 1,000 megawatts of electricity.

• They’ve found the wreck of Christopher Columbus’ ship the Santa Maria off the coast of Haiti.

• VA Gov. Terry McAuliffe has ordered a review of the state’s harsh anti-abortion laws.

• A cat named Suiko who had been missing since the Japanese tsunami of 2011 has been reunited with her grateful family. Nine lives, indeed!

• Thanks, Obama! American women saved $483 million last year thanks to the Obamacare birth control mandate.

• Michael Sam, the first openly-gay football player, has just been drafted by the St. Louis Rams.

• Congratulations, Kristen Seaton and Jennifer Rambo! You are the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Arkansas!

• Another same-sex marriage ban has been struck down, this time in Idaho.

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• Knoxville-based Aqua-Chem has developed a safety device to prevent offshore oil rig blowouts. (Subscription only, sorry guys).

• Congrats to artist Igor Babailov, newly-chosen to paint the official portrait of Pope Francis. The artist lives in Brentwood, a suburb of Nashville.

• Wilson County schools decided not to ban “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” after all. Last week school board members banned the book because of too many F-bombs.

• Hemlocks in the Great Smoky Mountains are thriving, thanks to the brutal winter, which wiped out an Asian hemlock pest called the woolly adelgid.

This week’s cool video: watch Sister Simone Campbell, who organized the “Nuns on the Bus,” school D’Nesh D’Souza on his bullshit rightwing talking points:

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19 Comments

Filed under Good News

19 responses to “Good News Friday

  1. That one about Pope Francis just sounds like the start to a joke: “A rabbi, an imam, and the Pope walk into the Holy Land…”

  2. “Louisiana dropped its lawsuit against MoveOn.org over a pro-Obamacare billboard.”

    After talking to their legal counsel who said, “WTF, Bobby Pi, are you completely NUTS!?”.

    I would say, “Only in Lousyanna would the state’s attorney contemplate suing a 501c3/4 for putting an opinion/statement of fact on a roadside billboard.”–except that there are prolly 24 other states’ AGs that would do the same thing.

    “This week’s cool video: watch Sister Simone Campbell, who organized the “Nuns on the Bus,” school D’Nesh D’Souza on his bullshit rightwing talking points:”

    D’ouchebag musta thought he was all done with being pwned by his religious orders teachers after finishing up at that Jebbie HS in Mumbai but a smart nun eats his lunch.

    D’Sozzled is such a piece of shit.

    • “WTF, Bobby Pi, are you completely NUTS!?”

      Has this ever been in serious doubt? More like “I know you’re completely nuts, but come on!”

  3. I just thought of the ultimate putdown for that asshole, D’adulterer:

    “If Mahatma Ghandi were alive today, and met you, he’d punch your fucking lights out!”

  4. Glidwrith

    I have to say I don’t think the mileage tax for road use is good news. Full disclosure: I own a Prius and at the end of last year I managed to buy a Ford Spark, which is an all-electric vehicle. That being said I have other objections:

    1. The 1.5 cent useage tax: I can get up to 500 miles out of my Prius after a 10 gallon fill. Run the numbers and that means 75 cents per gallon in tax. I am assuming that will be just the state level, with Federal unchanged (18.4 cents). Right now, California drivers pay 71 cents in state and federal taxes, while Oregon drivers pay 48 cents. Why the hell do I have to pay MORE than the gas guzzlers, especially with the extra expense of buying an electric car?
    2. Environmental impact: we are trying to reduce carbon emissions. Why should a tax be put in place that favors the gas guzzlers in any way, shape or form?
    3. Hybrids and electric vehicles are an extreme minority. There are roughly 230 million cars out there. Hybrids are roughly 2 million and electrics 200,000. That is about 1%. Are we SERIOUSLY supposed to believe we are having a major impact on road use?

    All this being said, I think this is meant to be punitive, a means to punish those of us that are trying to be responsible, a means to kill the hybrid and electric car industry. I am regularly called a ‘tree-hugger’ at work – always meant as a joke of course. You should see the glee they have at the idea that I will have to pay a road-use tax. This is punishment, dressed up as ‘fairness’.

    • You make some good points. I drive an all-electric Leaf so I’ve been wondering when we’re going to get some kind of mileage tax. Two elements of this Oregon program I like are that a) it’s voluntary, and b) you get a gas tax refund, so you’re being reimbursed for the gas tax you pay at the pump.

      I think the point is, since the new CAFE standards were implemented, all vehicles have better gas mileage now. They may not all be of the Prius variety, but they will be better than they have been. Down the road, so to speak, that revenue will need to be made up somehow.

      Also, the federal gas tax hasn’t been raised since 1997, and the Highway Trust Fund is running out of money, which will hit state transportation funds heavily. Here in Tennesssee, the trust fund is half our budget. It seems unlikely Congress will vote to increase gas taxes, between the Teanuts and this being an election year, so that has states scrambling to figure out new ways to fund road repairs. So it makes sense to look at the entire issue now.

      • Another logical response would be to give up trying to pay for roads primarily with use taxes and just institute some other kind of tax to raise the money. It’s nice to think that motor fuel taxes and vehicle registration fees distribute the cost of driving fairly to the people who are taking the most advantage of the roads, but it doesn’t look as if that has been true for a long time. I think it’s a better idea to institute a tax that will get the money we need and not worry too much about how evenly it’s distributed among road users.

      • True, but roads and infrastructure isn’t solely financed through vehicle use fees and gas taxes, is it? I thought that just made up a portion of it. Everyone benefits from a good road system, whether you own a car or not. Same as everyone benefits from good schools, whether you have children using them or not.

      • I tend to agree with Roger Moore that the current taxing system is not equitable. I’d have to do a lot of research (if the data is even out there to collate) but I’m guessing that the majority of infrastructural failures in roads and bridges is caused by commercial semi-trailer traffic.

      • If the cost of using roads was fairly distributed to primary users like trucks, then the costs should eventually be passed on to secondary users like the people who buy goods shipped by truck and everything would be fine. The problem as I see it is threefold:

        1) We aren’t raising nearly enough money to keep our roads in good repair.
        2) There’s a reasonable argument about what a fair approach is. You can argue fairness either from a cost perspective (who creates the most need for maintenance) or from a benefit perspective (who gets the most by using roads).
        3) It’s pretty clear that we aren’t distributing the costs fairly no matter what definition you use. Commercial shippers get a lot of benefit and create a lot of cost, both out of proportion to what they’re paying in fuel taxes.

        If we aren’t getting the money we need, aren’t distributing the costs fairly, and can’t even agree what constitutes fairness, maybe it’s time to throw out the system and focus on getting enough money to keep our infrastructure in good condition. Otherwise, we’re just fiddling while Rome burns.

      • Just to clarify, truckers and freight haulers do pay a road use use tax beyond just the fuel tax.

        I agree that we need to encourage people to choose high-mileage vehicles, but I’m not sure the fuel tax is the incentive people are thinking of when they buy a Smart Car or Prius over a gas guzzler. Your incentive is you’re not refilling your car as often! At $3.50 a gallon that’s pretty significant!

        I’ve had a Leaf for three years. I haven’t paid for the roads I use (though to be fair 90% of my driving is just local, I rarely use the interstates because a Leaf’s range prohibits that kind of driving). I don’t mind paying a road use fee to compensate for that, though. The benefit is, I’m not filling up my car and paying for gas. That’s more of an incentive than the few pennies of tax.

        Mr. Beale and I were talking about this and he pointed out that a lot of Republicans don’t want to use gas tax money for anything BUT road maintenance and repair. They don’t want one penny going toward high-speed rail or bus transit or other mass transit projects, which would lessen traffic on the highways and have a whole bunch of benefits. That doesn’t seem right, either.

  5. deep

    I love it when even CEO’s of major corporations talk back against GOP/Tea Party talking points. It takes away any weight the GOP may have on this being a “business” issue and clearly makes them 100% assholes.

    It’s like I said the other day about asshole CEOs. There are those like Buffet and then there are those who want to ruin everyone else on their way to wealth.

    • ” There are those like Buffet and then there are those who want to ruin everyone else on their way to wealth.”

      I doubt that they even think about us.

      • deep

        Oh, no, not only do they think of us, they get really upset when someone else even has a *chance* at competing with them, then they’ll fight fight fight until they “win.”

        They really are the worst kind of sociopath

  6. Duke of Clay

    The video of Sister Simone Campbell reminded me of the video of the cat bowling over the dog.

  7. ” They don’t want one penny going toward high-speed rail or bus transit or other mass transit projects, which would lessen traffic on the highways and have a whole bunch of benefits. That doesn’t seem right, either.”

    I spent some time looking at the DOT’s annual report for 2013 and it appears that the spending for all mass transit initiatives is on the order of pennies on the dollar compared to highway infrastructure.