Lots of good news this week. Enjoy!
• The Polar Vortex is coming back, which means next week is going to be absolutely gorgeous across most of the country. Forgive me, West Coasters. I don’t often get to gloat about the weather here in July!
• Death of a right-wing Libertarian myth: Obamacare is working. Someone needs to track the success of the healthcare law with the media’s discontinued use of the moniker “Obamacare” in favor of the law’s real name, the Affordable Care Act. Would be an interesting thought experiment.
• Death of another conservative-Libertarian myth #2: raising the minimum wage is not a job killer. Oh noes.
• A judge has ruled that Florida’s legislature illegally drew new Congressional district maps to help the Republican Party.
• The country’s fastest-growing solar electricity program is located in … wait for it … Georgia? Really?
• Cattle ranchers, hunters, and treehuggers join forces to stop natural gas drilling in the Colorado wilderness.
• Do you think whales wear “Save The Humans” bumper stickers? Maybe they should: a new study indicates whale poop may save us from climate change. Yippee! Sorry about that whole Western-civilization-powered-by-whale-oil thing from the last century, guys.
• Another state gay marriage ban falls. Helloooo, Colorado.
• Detroit: it’s not dead yet.
• It’s probably dead thanks to the Great Orange Wall in the House, but Democrats have a bill that would preserve women’s access to contraception coverage no matter what their boss’ religion.
• Did you know Buzz Aldrin saw a UFO on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon?
I have a funny Buzz Aldrin story. I grew up in the same small New Jersey town as Aldrin. When he came back from the moon there was a huge parade for him down Main Street. He was going to be there waving to everyone. I was SO excited! So my sister and I went — I have no recollection of what my parents were doing that day — but as I was only 7 years old, all I saw that day was a sea of knee socks. I shit you not. I will never forget it. Just a forest of legs all in knee socks. I think I’ve hated parades ever since.
• The story of Raju the abused elephant who actually cried on experiencing freedom for the first time in 50 years will break your heart a thousand ways:
The owner, reported by The Times of India to be a drug addict, and the elephant’s handler attempted to thwart the rescue, blocking the road, shouting commands to Raju to try to provoke the animal into violence, and adding more chains around the animal’s legs.
But the rescue team stood its ground, and seized the animal. It was at this point that tears began rolling down Raju’s face. Raju, despite each painful step as the spikes cut into his flesh, calmly climbed into the truck, as if knowing he was being rescued.
Elephants are amazing creatures.
• Kansas City, Mo. journalist Esther Honig asked 25 countries to “make me beautiful.” The results were a fascinating window on individual and cultural beauty ideals.
• Love this idea! Individual activism goes a long, long way.
• Everytown For Gun Safety is issuing its first “Gun Sense Voter” questionnaire to all 2014 candidates for federal office.
• Solar energy will be cheaper than grid electricity across half of the U.S. by 2015, says a Texas utility head.
• The United Nations announced it will recognize staff members’ same-sex unions. Before this accouncement, a UN staff member’s marital status was determined by the laws applicable in their country of nationality.
• A fluffy white stray dog dubbed “Dolly” after it was found wandering the Glastonbury Music Festival grounds following Dolly Parton’s appearance there has found a new home with its namesake.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
• Motlow College is now tobacco-free.
• Cool! Astronaut and Middle Tennessee native Barry Wilmore is the next commander of the International Space Station.
Ooops almost forgot this week’s cool video: pit bull meets 10-week-old kitten. Adorableness ensues. I have to say, we have one cat that is absolutely in love with our pit bull. Will not leave him alone. If he could rub on the dog forever, he would. Love story.