And we’re off to the races …
• That horrible person at Rutgers who used a hidden camera to spy on his gay roommate? And then got other people to watch? Leading to a shame spiral that ultimately resulted in the roommate’s suicide by jumping off the George Washington Bridge? Yeah, he was found guilty of hate crimes, invasion of privacy, tampering with evidence and a whole bunch of other stuff. Buh-bye.
• Montana’s wild buffalo have been granted access to tens of thousands of acres of habitat north of Yellowstone National Park.
• Wisconsin Republican State Senator Pam Galloway, one of four Republicans facing a recall election, announced her resignation today. When her resignation goes into effect — something she neglected to clarify in her announcement — the Wisconsin senate will be divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Bipartisanship!
And speaking of the Wisconsin recall, it looks like Wisconsin voters will get their chance to issue Gov. Walker his pink slip on June 5.
• The judicial nomination logjam has been lifted — after Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid dug in his heels on Republican obstruction, that is. Fourteen confirmation votes will now move forward.
And one of those judges just approved is Michael Fitzgerald, an openly gay California lawyer. He is the first openly gay person appointed to the federal bench outside of New York, and only the fourth openly gay federal judge in the whole country.
• Senior citizens no longer need to take their shoes off at the airport. Great, now what about the rest of us? This makes me nuts. Wasn’t Osama bin Laden 70 fucking gazillion years old? What, terrorists can’t be old? Just let us all keep our shoes on. And water. I want to bring my own damn water on board, too.
• A new HUD rule has gone into effect which prevents discrimination against the LGBT community.
• It looks like they may have found the missing link proving humans evolved from apes, so religious people can just shut up about evolution now.
• Is King Coal dead? The USEIA reports that coal has dropped below 40% of U.S. electricity generation, the lowest in 33 years. The bad news is that it’s been replaced by natural gas.
• A Wisconsin Circuit Court judge has issued a permanent injunction against Wisconsin’s Voter ID law. Read the decision here. And in a related move, the Dept. of Justice has killed Texas’ Voter ID law.
And while I’m not sure this is “good news,” as it’s certainly embarrassing for a nation once regarded as the standard-bearer for civil rights, the NAACP has asked the United Nations’ Human Rights Council to investigate disenfranchisement of black and Hispanic voters in the U.S.
• A new species of leopard frog has been discovered in New York City.
• GE rejects Republicans’ climate change denialism:
“We found enough data there to have a company like GE respond and we have responded,” said Mark Vachon, head of the “ecomagination” sustainable business initiative GE launched in that year. He said revenues generated by operations in his portfolio now totalled $100bn and were growing at more than twice the rate of those in the rest of the company.
GE’s environmental strategy had also helped it shave $140m from its own energy bill and meant “we’re viewed as relevant in the world”, he said.
Mr Vachon was responding to questions about how GE, a company that has positioned itself as a champion of climate-friendly technologies, views the prospect of voters electing a president reluctant to accept the scientific consensus that carbon emissions from fossil fuels such as coal and oil are warming the earth’s climate.
• The tiny rural German village of Feldheim has become a renewable energy model, drawing people from around the world interested in replicating their model. The town has built its own energy grid and is powered completely by local renewable sources.
• A new law has gone into effect in Myanmar allowing workers to form labor unions and go on strike.
• It took a while but crackpot preacher Harold Camping has finally admitted he was wrong when he failed to accurately predict the end of the world. Camping had predicted the world would end last May and when that failed to happen, he predicted it would end in October:
“Events in the last year have proved that no man can be fully trusted,” Harold Camping wrote in a letter Thursday to listeners of his evangelical Family Radio program, “Open Forum.” “Even the most zealous of us can be mistaken.”
That’s one crackpot down, about a zillion more to go.
• In 2011, China rescued more than 24,000 women and children from human trafficking.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• A state House panel has approved legislation repealing Tennessee’s Voter ID law, with one Republican and one indepdendent voting with the Democrats. This is just a small victory, as the measure then moves into a subcommittee, where it will probably be killed.
• BlueCross/BlueShield of TN must pay the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services for HIPAA violations stemming from a 2009 data breach. In October 2009 57 hard drives were stolen which contained unencrypted data on more than 1 million BlueCross/Blue Shield customers. It took the company months to notify customers of the security breach.
• Country star Kenny Chesney has donated $50,000 to the Coastal Conservation Assn.
• Nashville has a new, 26-mile bikeway!
• Metro Nashville and Senate Democrat Jim Kyle are pushing Republicans in the state legislature to overturn last year’s widely-criticized nullififcation of Nashville’s non-discrimination ordinance, which our weak-kneed governor signed into law last May. But he said he felt really, really bad about it. Uh-huh.
• Cheatham County, TN, a suburb west of Nashville, will install five public EV charging stations.