Lots of good news this week! First of all, for those who have asked about my left hand, it is much, much better. Almost back to normal now. It took about 24 hours for the steroid shot to kick in.
Also, there is something crazy going on with the weather in Nashville. It feels like Southern California: cool temperatures down into the low 60s or even 50s at night, low- to mid-80s during the day. This is my idea of heaven. It’s ridiculously beautiful here right now.
And for the rest of you not enjoying glorious weather, here’s some good news from around the world:
• To big to jail? Not Wall Street giant SAC Capital.
• A marine microbe discovered on the California coast has been found to have super antibiotic capabilities.
(Reuters) – Pope Francis on Thursday issued the first social manifesto of his young pontificate, telling slum dwellers in Brazil that the world’s rich must do much more to wipe out vast inequalities between the haves and the have-nots.
The pope also urged Brazil’s youth, who have taken part in recent protests showing discontent with the status quo, to keep alive their “sensitivity towards injustice” and be a catalyst in the fight against corruption.
The first Latin American pope, who has rallied the Church on behalf of the poor and who lives more austerely than his predecessors, called for a “culture of solidarity” to replace the “selfishness and individualism” prevailing in modern society.
Truly this is a message of radical justice which we haven’t heard from the Papacy since … maybe ever? I hope it resonates with some of the conservative Catholics in this country (Rick Santorum, I’m lookin’ at you.)
• Birders are going nuts over the appearance of the roufus-necked wood-rail, spotted in New Mexico for the first time, ever. Not saying this is good news, necessarily — the wood-rail is typically found in Central and South America. The fact that it’s in New Mexico is an alarming sign of a species confused by climate change. Still, for birders it’s a bonanza.
• Need some nice time? I bring you Zooborns.com. You can thank me later.
• A bill introduced in the House on Thursday would end a cushy tax loophole junk food companies receive for advertising and marketing their poison to kids. The bill was introduced by Democratic Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, so I don’t expect it will go anywhere in the Republican-controlled House. But, you never know.
• With that in mind, don’t look now but Alan Grayson is actually getting shit done in the House.
• Scientists have discovered what triggers cat allergies, with the hopes that this will lead to a cure. Life is just better with cats, it really is.
• A federal judge has ruled in favor of an Ohio same-sex couple recently married in Maryland and against Ohio’s constiutional ban on same-sex marriage. The couple wanted to be buried next to each other — one of the partners has ALS — but relatives and the state of Ohio wouldn’t let them.
From the story:
Last week, the two men sued Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine and the Cincinnati doctor responsible for approving death certificates. Obergefell and Arthur asked a judge to overturn existing Ohio law – which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage – to allow Obergefell to be listed as surviving spouse on Arthur’s death certificate and for it to show that Arthur’s marital status at death as married.
That’s what U.S. District Magistrate Judge Tim Black did late Monday afternoon, granting a temporary restraining order – but noting it was specific to Obergefell and Arthur only.
Without that official designation as Arthur’s spouse, Obergefell told Black, he won’t be able to be buried with him in Spring Grove Cemetery. Arthur’s family plots are in that cemetery and his grandfather previously stipulated in documents that only the family’s direct descendents and their spouses can be buried in the family plot. With Black’s ruling, Obergefell can be buried next to Arthur.
“We’ve been beside each other for 20 years. We deserve to be beside each other in perpetuity,” Obergefell testified Monday.
• On a related note, the California Supreme Court denied the San Diego County Clerk’s request to immediately halt same sex marriages in the state.
• Palo Alto, CA, switches to 100% renewables.
• The World Bank announced it is backing away from coal-fired power generation, saying it will only finance such projects in “rare situations.”
• Related: The U.S. will not fund a polluting coal-fired power plant in Vietnam.
• Also: the government of Rwanda has signed an agreement setting the stage for the country’s first grid-fed solar PV project. The project will produce 8.5 MW of clean energy. Only 8% of Rwandan households currently have access to grid-fed electricity.
• Meanwhile in southern India, construction has begun on a 100 MW solar farm.
• Female genital mutilation is on the decline in Africa, according to a new report.
• A federal judge has blocked North Dakota’s new abortion ban.
• The Norwegian businesswoman who was raped in Dubai and sentenced to 16 months in prison for having sex outside of marriage has been freed.
That’s the good news. The bad news is, her attacker has also been freed. Remind me never to visit Dubai.
• She won’t back down: Democratic Alabama State Senator Vivian Davis Figures has refused to apologize for calling her Republican counterparts racist.
Actually, here’s what she said at a state Democratic Party event:
“It seems to me that once Obama was elected we started hearing the Republicans attack him on almost everything he tried to do, especially in health care,” said Figures. “We started hearing Republicans in office and Republicans running for office attacking the federal government, charging the federal government had suddenly become intrusive in our lives, that it was overreaching into our places of business and into our homes. And with every charge they made they used Obama’s name.”
“I think it’s racism. At its core I just do,” said Figures. “I don’t think that before Obama ran and won we heard state Republicans making so many statements about national issues that they would have little say over. We didn’t hear that with (Jimmy) Carter or Bill Clinton. I think it’s just basic racism and I’m not someone who uses the race card and I’m someone who had thought that we were beyond that kind of thing.”
Naturally, Alabama Republicans immediately called for the fainting couches. Figures has refused to apologize.
• You know who else won’t back down? This Texas 14-year-old.
• A federal judge denies BP’s efforts to suspend payments related to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
• Scientists work to produce a type of broccoli which can grow in warmer climates. For once, Monsanto isn’t completely evil.
• Nickelodeon stars Big Time Rush put on a free concert for the residents of Newton, CT.
• Israeli archaeologists believe they have found the ruins of King David’s palace.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• Jonathan “Tig” Willard, a new member of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, pulled a mom, her three kids and their dog from their burning car along Interstate 40 as he was on his way to Nashville for training camp.
• The country’s first statewide Recovery Court opens in Tennessee Aug. 1. The program moves people in need of substance abuse treatment or mental health services out of prison and into treatment programs.
• A Nashville student has been awarded the very first Jim Varney Scholarship, a full-ride, four-year acting scholarship to UCLA. Yeah, Varney was the guy from the “Ernest” movies. Don’t laugh.
• Congratulations to Memphis’ Green Machine Mobile Food Market, the city’s first mobile food market, which made its debut July 22. Green Machine brings fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods with limited access to fresh produce. What a great idea. Access to healthy, fresh food is becoming an increasing problem in our inner cities, especially as cuts to public transit budgets limits residents’ mobility.
• Nashville’s Homelessness Commission has partnered with the Housing Authority to create housing for 200 “vulnerable and chronically homeless people.”
This week’s cool video: the perfect answer to the lying anti-Obamacare ads that the right-wing Americans For Prosperity ran last year. Wish these things could be placed on TV.