Good News Friday

Lots of good news this week! Enjoy!

• Former Newsweek journalist Jonathan Alter publicly admits he was completely wrong about the Iraq War:

Newsweek asked Alter, who spent nearly 30 years working for this magazine before moving to Bloomberg, if there’s anything he’d change about the column with 11 years of hindsight. He was unequivocal. “I strongly regret writing that the war was ‘inevitable and necessary,’ ” he said. “I was totally wrong about that, as were scores of other liberal pundits, not to mention conservative ones, and almost every major politician except Barack Obama, who was a state senator at the time. It was a product of essentially believing Colin Powell that there were weapons of mass destruction.” As for that master narrative? Now it’s apparent, he says: “It was a complete fiasco.”

“It was one of the greatest disasters in American history,” he added.

Let’s hope this is a trend.

I’m also eagerly awaiting the day when every one of these assholes who helped drag the nation into war humbly asks the world’s apology.

• A clueless Midwestern scrap metal dealer, frustrated that he couldn’t find anyone to buy a tiny gold egg he expected to sell for scrap, turned to the internet and discovered he’d nearly melted down the Third Imperial Easter Egg, made by Faberge for Tsar Alexander III, and worth around $33 million. He was hoping to get $500 for it.

• The Moral Monday movement spreads across the South.

• Virginia Gov. McAuliffe vetoes a guns-in-cars bill.

• The Durango (Colo.) Gun Club has dropped its requirement that members join the NRA or lose their memberships. The move came after the City of Durango threatened to evict the club, which has leased its property from the city for over 50 years. Last week the club amended its by-laws to become “a 100% NRA club,” meaning club members who refuse to join the NRA will lose their memberships. Said City Attorney David Smith:

“The problem arises when the leadership of the Durango Gun Club, operating on public property, determines that membership within this conservative political organization should be a condition of membership in the Durango Gun Club or a condition of the right to use the leased facility located on City-owned land,” Smith wrote in the letter.

The gun club backed down and reversed the change. This brings to mind all of the many and sundry ways the NRA has coerced and inflated its membership numbers. Forcing all gun club members to join the NRA seems like another tactic the bully organization is using to try overstate its influence.

• Scientists make a major breakthrough in Alzheimer’s research.

• U.S. scientists have uncovered the remains of a dinosaur they’ve dubbed the “chicken from hell.”

• After insurers in several states refused to enroll same-sex spouses in family plans, the Dept. of Health and Human Services issued new guidelines requiring insurance companies to cover same-sex families.

• Astronomers have found “smoking gun” evidence of the Big Bang. For more on this, see this week’s cool video at the end of the post.

• A Louisiana judge ruled in favor of a Buddhist family in their lawsuit against a creationist teacher who called their faith “stupid” in the classroom.

When his parents complained to Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb, they were told that “this is the Bible belt,” so they should expect to find the Christian God in the classroom. Ebarb advised them that if they wanted an ungodly classroom, they should transfer C.C. to a school where “there are more Asians.”

Judge Elizabeth Foote of the U.S. District Court, Western District of Louisiana sided with C.C. and his parents, citing that Roark’s behavior — and the school’s decision to defend it — clearly violated “the Free Exercise and Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.”

• Starting in fall 2014, smoking and tobacco products will be banned on all public university campuses in Georgia.

You young kids won’t believe this but when I was growing up in the ’70s, people smoked in movie theaters and even grocery stores. That’s right, it was not at all uncommon for people to light up in the produce aisle of your local supermarket. Amazing.

• The U.S. is expected to install nearly six gigabytes of solar electricity in 2014. And Tennessee ranks 14th out of the “sweet 16” states leading the way.

• The European Parliament has moved forward with a plan to severely reduce plastic bag use.

• Colon cancer rates and deaths have dropped 30% in the past 10 years — all without a damn ribbon or “race for the cure.”

• This AP photo by Jens Meyer of a gorilla holding her newborn at a zoo in Germany will melt your heart:

APTOPIX Germany Zoo

Good News, Tennessee Edition:

• A recent Good News post mentioned a federal judge’s ruling that the state must immediately recognize legal same-sex marriages performed in other states. Tennessee’s Attorney General announced the state would appeal that decision and requested a stay while the appeal works its way through the courts. The same federal judge said no.

• Google Fiber’s Nashville expansion may bring high-speed internet to Nashville’s low-income neighborhoods.

• Clarksville’s Heath Calhoun, a former squad leader with the 101st Airborne, has won his first Paralympics medal in sit-skiing.

• Not really good news, necessarily, but definitely interesting: A Middle Tennessee woman is leading the Navy’s search for the missing Malaysian airliner. You know what I always say, if you want to find something that’s missing, ask a woman.

• Gov. Haslam signed the wine-in-grocery-stores bill, however we still have quite a few hurdles before we can pick up a bottle of wine along with the evening meal.

• UT-Knoxville got a $4.9 million obesity prevention grant.

This week’s cool video: the moment Stanford professor/physicist Andrei Linde and his wife learn that astronomers have confirmed his inflation theory of the Big Bang:

9 Comments

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9 responses to “Good News Friday

  1. Jim in Memphis

    “The U.S. is expected to install nearly six gigabytes of solar electricity in 2014. ” – solar power is not measured in bytes. I think you meant to label this as gigawatts not gigabytes.

  2. You young kids won’t believe this but when I was growing up in the ’70s, people smoked in movie theaters and even grocery stores.

    People used to smoke in doctors’ offices and hospitals. Public restrooms would have ashtrays in the stalls so people could smoke on the toilet. Now my hometown has an ordinance forbidding residents of multi-unit dwellings from smoking in their own homes. The turn-around is amazing.

    • The turn-around is amazing.

      Yes. Somewhere along the way in the 80s the country just decided that they weren’t going to support the tobacco industry any more. Despite all of the Hollywood movies glamorizing smoking, despite all of the astroturfing and phony front groups the industry started (thank you, Rick Berman and Amy Moritz Ridenour!), the country just decided they were going to put a stop to it and started enacting laws and filing lawsuits and bam, it’s all over. And that was amazing because the tobacco lobby was really strong in the South, too. Just amazing what can be done when people decide they’ve had enough of a disgusting, evil industry.

      • I think the big change was switching the avenue of attack against smoking. As long as restrictions on smoking were aimed primarily at protecting smokers, it was possible to present anti-smoking rules as paternalistic attempts to protect smokers from their own choices. When we switched the goal to protecting non-smokers from the harmful effects of second-hand smoke, that argument became much weaker.

  3. Joseph Stans

    Colon cancer rates have dropped because of increased use of early diagnostic procedures. Unfortunately it is only a matter of time before some brainless celebrity decides that colonoscopies caused her shin splints or sagging chin and the kerfuffle will be on. Alas. A jenny McCarthty of the butt is lurking out there.

    • Don’t ignore the drop in tobacco use as a cause for reduced rates of cancers not traditionally thought of as smoking related. It turns out that nicotine is a systemic carcinogen. Its effects are strongest in tissues that are directly exposed to smoke (or smokeless tobacco products), but it increases the risk of all kinds of cancer.

  4. tobacco, alcohol and gunz, three products which disproportionately affect NON-users.

    • GregH

      We as a society have turned the corner on tobacco and alcohol (for the most part – raised the drinking age and started taking DUI seriously), to deal with the obvious increased costs and negative impacts on public health, but not on the gunz. Of course, tobacco and alcohol are not enshined as holy in our Bill of Rights. Sigh.