Some happy news to close out the week. Been a tough week with losing Quinn, and then this morning I had to take Willie to the vet because he’s stopped eating. He hoovers up everything in sight and has a serious shoe fetish so I’m worried it will be one of these scenarios. On top of that, I’m coming down with a sinus infection. Just in time for Valentine’s Day. Blech. So, happy thoughts.
• PA’s governor has put a moratorium on the state’s death penalty.
• Bipartisanship! A bill to help veterans with PTSD has been signed into law.
• After a Los Angeles Times report detailed horrific conditions in the Mexican agricultural industry that supplies America’s supermarket chains, Wal-Mart announced that it’s teaming with the Mexican government to improve farmworkers’ conditions. Also:
The group represents growers and distributors that handle 90% of Mexico’s produce exports to the United States, which have tripled over the last decade and now exceed $7.5 billion a year.
Separately, Wal-Mart said it is taking action to ensure that workers are treated with “respect and dignity,” reminding its in-house buyers that they should buy produce only from farms that meet the company’s standards for decent treatment of workers.
Wal-Mart also said it will ask outside suppliers to certify that they have visited “any new facility they plan to use for Wal-Mart production” and that the facilities meet company standards.
Wal-Mart said it would send a team of senior leaders to attend meetings with growers involved with the new initiative, called the International Produce Alliance to Promote a Socially Responsible Industry. Senior executives have also been assigned to examine ways to partner with other groups to improve conditions.
• Apple Inc. announced a 25-year, $848 million deal to buy solar power from First Solar, in what has been called the solar industry’s largest corporate power purchase agreement.
• Southern states are seeing Obamacare signups increase from 80-100% over last year. As these are some of the unhealthiest states in the entire U.S., this is very good news.
• A St. Petersburg, FL man tore down his home-made gun range that he’d built in his front yard.
• A Detroit-area man who walked 21 miles to work every day for 10 years has been given a new car, and a crowdfunding campaign will pay for the maintenance and insurance.
• Justice: the Montana man who set a trap and ultimately shot and killed a German exchange student, then tried to use a “castle doctrine” defense, has been sentenced to 70-years in prison.
• Justice 2: the police officer who assaulted an Indian grandfather visiting his grandson in a Huntsville, Alabama suburb has been fired and arrested for assault. Horrible story, and it all started because some neighborhood idiot called in about a suspicious “skinny black guy.”
• On Monday Alabama became the 37th state where gay marriage is legal.
Good News, Tennessee Edition:
Congrats to Kingsport native and Paralympian Blake Leeper, who will play in the Celebrity All-Star Game during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Leeper won the silver medal in the 400-meter dash during the 2012 Paralympic Games in London.
This week’s video is a trip into the cultural memory hole. How we used to say the Pledge of Allegiance: