It’s time for your weekly progress report! Hope everyone had a good one. Without further ado:
• November unemployment falls to 7.7%.
• Apple announces plans to manufacture Macs in the U.S.
• You’ve heard that Tea Party S.C. Senator Jim DeMent is resigning to head up the Heritage Foundation in January, right? Great news! Even better is the guy who has offered to step in.
• Pot is officially legal in Washington State. We are so going on vacation there next summer!
• Top 2% tell GOP: “Tax us!” Geez. Tax ‘em already, wouldja?
• A formerly homeless Iraq War veteran paid the utility bills of some 20 people in line at the Georgia Power office where he was waiting to pay his bill.
• Americans have kicked their gas-guzzlers to the curb, and new vehicles are more efficient, meaning they pollute less and use less energy. Also:
This trend is likely to continue. The Obama administration has already set strict new fuel-economy standards for cars and light trucks, which are expected to average around 35.4 miles per gallon by 2025. Indeed, this is one big reason why U.S. oil imports have been shrinking — along with increased domestic oil production — and it’s why imports are projected to keep shriveling in the decades ahead.
Wow. You mean government policy actually impacts stuff in a positive way? How is that possible!
• UBS Bank is expected to pay over $450 million to settle claims that it defrauded its customers and boosted profits by falsifying interest rates.
• Virginia Tech students carried their paraplegic classmate on a rugged, 4-mile hike to see a waterfall.
• A movement by student activists to demand their colleges and universities divest themselves of socially irresponsible investments takes off.
• Newly-elected Senator Elizabeth Warren has been appointed to the Senate Banking Committee. Suck on that, Wall Street!
• Congratulations to all of the DFH liberals nominated for Grammy Awards in the Best Spoken Word Album category. Seriously, this stuff is usually apolitical, but look at the names in this field: you’ve got three lesbians, the current FLOTUS, and the last Democratic president! Congratulations to Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton, Rachel Maddow, Ellen DeGeneres, and my down-the-street neighbor, Janis Ian.
• File this under good news/bad news: New York City is getting its first LEED Gold restaurant: an Applebee’s in Harlem.
• Mental patient Orly Taitz lost another court case over President Obama’s records, and this time she’s been ordered to pay Occidental College $4,000 to reimburse them for their time and trouble responding to her baseless lawsuit.
• Christmas at the White House, in pictures. And by the way, it’s never too early to remind your wingnut neighbors and relatives that no, the Obamas did not ban Christmas trees or religious ornaments from the White House; no, Obama is not taxing Christmas Trees; and no, atheists are not petitioning the FCC to get Christmas programs banned from television. That last one is an oldie but a goodie. I actually received that in a chain e-mail from an elderly neighbor a few years ago. Sigh.
• Canada’s Dalhousie University has created a “puppy room” to help students de-stress during finals week.
• The American Psychiatric Assn. has revised its diagnosis for “transgender,” no longer labeling it a mental disorder.
• A Michigan man battles climate change by cloning ancient Redwoods.
Good News, Tennessee Edition
• The Tennessee legislature’s top Republicans come out in favor of wine sales in grocery stores. Quite possibly the only time I will ever agree with Ron Ramsey or Beth Harwell.
• Johnny Depp may be moving to Nashville. Actually, this is neither good news nor bad news. But if it turns out to be true, I’ve got to figure out how to wrangle an invite to the sure-to-be-epic housewarming party.
• Looks like Nashville is getting another greenway.
• The remains of a Korean war vet are finally coming home to Tennessee after 62 years.
• Congratulations to all of the Nashvillians nominated for Grammy Awards in pretty much every category. Seriously, people who live here dominate the top categories, not just the expected country/gospel stuff: The Black Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Taylor Swift, Jack White … etc. etc. I think maybe some of the wingnutty stuff coming out of our legislature is just a byproduct of all the creative energy in this town. Maybe?
This week’s cool video is in honor of sometime Nashville resident Steve Winwood, and Eric Clapton, who will be visiting our fair city next March. Gotta love the way those two guitars dance!