• European researchers have developed an airport scanner that can screen liquids. The scanner is being tested in Europe and could result in removing the ban on liquid carry-on as early as 2013.
• The Pentagon is closer to allowing women in active combat.
• Faced with a boycott threat and other right-wing hissy fits over its decision to hire the openly gay Ellen DeGeneres as its pitchwoman, JC Penney isn’t backing down, saying “Ellen represents the values of our company.” Good for them. If you haven’t seen this clip of DeGeneres responding to the controversy, give it a look:
• Anti-war protestors falsely arrested in Chicago in 2003 are offered $6.2 million settlement.
• The New York Times reports that young people are watching less television. Instead, they’re spending more time on social media, watching internet videos, etc. Why is this good news? Well, if you think networks and cable TV are gatekeepers to the free expression of ideas, then it’s a good thing to see those gates come crashing down. Maybe I’m being Pollyanna here, but I can’t help but see this wresting of control away from big media conglomerates as a good thing.
• Lawmakers in South Dakota struck down a ban on collective bargaining.
• A 136-count criminal indictment has been handed down against DocX and its founder and CEO, Lorraine Brown, in the “robo-signing” scandal that resulted in mass fraudulent foreclosures.
• The U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift a stay of execution on Ohio death row inmate Charles Lorraine, ruling that Ohio can’t be trusted to carry out executions properly. Ohio had agreed to change its lethal injection protocols but had failed to do so.
• Japan has announced plans to cut its consumption of the rare earth metal dysprosium by 30% in two years via development of dysprosium-free technology and increased recycling of the product. China has cornered the market on dysprosium, which is used to manufacture hybrid cars and many electronics.
• Insurance commissioners in California, New York and Washington State will require that companies have a plan for responding to climate change-related disasters, such as increasingly severe storms, flooding and wildfires.
• The U.S. is nearing energy independence. This is somewhat good news, as I realize the reasons aren’t always green or clean but I’m throwing this out there regardless. From the Bloomberg link:
The result: The U.S. has reversed a two-decade-long decline in energy independence, increasing the proportion of demand met from domestic sources over the last six years to an estimated 81 percent through the first 10 months of 2011, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from the U.S. Department of Energy. That would be the highest level since 1992.
Just curious: why are gas prices so high then? Hasn’t Newt Gingrich been telling us for years that if we “drill here” we’d pay less? Guess not.
• The U.S. State Dept. announced plans to slash in half the number of people it has at the ginormous Baghdad Embassy in Iraq.
• A Federal appeals court has struck down California’s Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage.
• A plastic-eating mushroom has been discovered in the Amazon. This is why we’re protecting the rainforest, people.
• GE workers in Kansas City, MO voted to unionize for the first time in 10 years.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• UT Knoxville celebrated Charles Darwin with a week of workshops, lectures, a film screenings and other events. I found this interesting:
Annual Darwin events have been held on the campus since 1997. They are believed to be the longest running such events in the country.
How cool is that? Amid all the knuckle-dragging Neanderthals here in Tennessee, we’re also home to the longest-running Charles Darwin celebration. See, things aren’t so bad, after all.
• Construction has begun on the Murfreesboro Islamic center that had Islamophobes from around the nation in such an uproar, even filing suit to stop the project.
• Volkswagon’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant is the world’s first auto plant to receive LEED-Platinum certification.