31 July 2014

Headlines for 31 July 2014

Check out videos and headlines with notes on: Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett singing "Anything Goes," College Humor educational video on purebred dogs, Woman discusses her abortion story with her daughter, Mother discussing her trans daughter, House GOP leadership fails to pass border bill, and Five new laws take affect in Minnesota on August 1st.

Check out just headlines on: Judge dismisses challenge to NJ conversion therapy ban, Justice Ginsburg not retiring, and WHO launches $100 million ebola response plan.

Cheat out just comics on: Ebola, and Map of all the countries one flight away from ebola.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett sing "Anything Goes"
Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett have collabortated on a jazzy album called "Cheek to Cheek." Album is due in September. I am definitely excited for this album! I'm particularly glad to see them release "Anything Goes" considering I was in a production of the musical in high school. For those who are pessimistic about society and thinking it has a bunch of new problems, listen to the lyrics of this song. Then remember it is from a 1934 musical.
This is an excellent duo, as you can also hear in Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett's previous collaboration, "The Lady is a Tramp."

College Humor educational video on purebred dogs (mildly NSFW)
Yep, human selective breeding is responsible for a bunch of the problems purebred dogs have. Problems mutts are much less likely to have. Need further evidence? Check out the bulldog skull on the right:
Image from EVOL300 Course Website
Want another one? Try a google search for a pug skull. And if you liked this video, maybe check out the one on male circumcision.

A woman discussers her abortion with her daughter
There is a movement for women to open up about their abortion to destigmatize the decision. You can check out people opening up about their experiences at NotAlone.Us . Here is one of the videos:

A mom discusses her trans daughter
Trans* stories are diverse and varied. There are many voices and different stories to tell. Here is one mother discussing her experience.

Border failure rocks House GOP leadership
Boehner has again failed to get through legislation. The speaker can't even get his own legislation through... The "Do Nothing" Congress continues...

Five new laws in Minnesota start August 1st

  1. Minimum wage increase ($8/hr, will progressively climb to $9.50 and increase automatically with inflation)
  2. Domestic abusers and stalkers will be prohibited from possessing firearms
  3. Law attacks synthetic drugs
  4. Penalties updated for data breaches
  5. Motorists must investigate collisions


Just Headlines

  1. Federal judge dismisses latest challenge to N.J. ban on gay conversion therapy
  2. Ruth Bader Ginsburg: I'm not going anywhere
  3. World Health Organization launches $100 million Ebola response plan as crisis deepens


Just Comics

Comic from Cagle

Image from Quartz

29 July 2014

Headlines for 29 July 2014

Check out headlines with notes on: Satanists to use Hobby Lobby ruling to block anti-choice propaganda, China plans to build super collider as US continues to fall behind on particle physics, Poll numbers show Democrat win of Oklahoma governership is possible, and New York debates if housing is healthcare (which could save money).

Check out just headlines on: US unfairly targeted Arabs and Muslims, Senators in both parties agree states must do more for higher education, Ebola kills senior doctor in Liberia, Liberia closes border crossings amid Ebola crisis, An American citizen dies of Ebola in Nigeria, A second American in Liberia has Ebola, Ebola outbreak forces West African airline to halt flights, Tentative agreement on US veterans health bill, Spacecraft reveals 101 geysers on a Saturn moon, No one knows what is causing mysterious radio bursts from space, Religious violence in 2013 displaced millions, Federal court blocks closing of Mississippi's last abortion clinic, Colorado Supreme Court stops Boulder from issuing same-sex marriages, LGB youth four times more likely to attempt suicide, Illinois issues bulletin reminding insurers that transgender health coverage is protected by law, and 4th Circuit rules Virginia same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

Check out just comics on: Superman is an undocumented immigrant, It was Obama, Death penalty, Drones, Writing, and Mary Poppins quitting over wages.


Well, well. Satanists to use Hobby Lobby to block [anti-choice] propaganda
One of the tenants of Satanism is that, "One's body is inviolable, subject to one's will alone" (Satanic Temple). Because of this, abortion is clearly an indivual's right (since a fetus can NOT persist without the use of a person's body). Another tenant of Satanism is that, "Beliefs should conform to our best scientific understanding of the world. We should take care never to distort scientific facts to fit our beliefs" (Satanic Temple). Many states' abortion laws directly violate this tenant as they mandate patients be given false and/or misleading information. Due to the recent Hobby Lobby decision by the Supreme Court, the Satanic Temple is encouraging people to use religious liberty protections to avoid having to recieve this anti-choice propaganda. They have drafted a letter people can give to their healthcare professionals stating how this propaganda violates their sincerely held beliefs and therefore they should be exempt from recieving it. It will be interesting to see how this moves forward.

China plans super collider
China could very well position itsself as the world leader in particle physics by building the tools needed. The nation is considering building a $3 billion collider that would dwarf the collider that confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. I feel it appropriate to note that the United States government has several military projects that cost more than this a budget cycle. It also seems worth noting that the United States funding for the National Science Foundation this year is $7.172 billion. President Obama's 2015 budget would only give the US Department of Energy's high-energy physics budget $744 million (a 6% cut). The United State's risk of falling behind on particle physics continues to get worse.

Poll numbers show a Democrat could be Oklahoma's next governor
Voting counts. Races can be surprisingly close. In 2008, Alaska had a house race that was decided by a single vote. There are examples of 2 vote margins in: 1974, 20042006. There are many, many examples of close election results. Minnesota's Al Franken is even an example. Just because it is a midterm election this year doesn't mean it isn't important to vote.

New York debates whether housing counts as healthcare
Surprise, surprise, sometimes housing lowers the overall cost of healthcare. In the example given in this article, living at an assisted living facility for a year is half the cost of a homeless individual's emergency room visits they would otherwise have in a year. Simple cost-benefit analysis on this topic might be able to save us money and offer better care. You'd think cost-benefit analyses would make a lot of topics apolitical and obvious. I can understand needing a long debate on something that will: (a) cost more money but improve service or (b) cost less money but reduce service. That said, something that costs less money and improves service seems like a fairly simple choice.


Just Headlines

  1. Report: US unfairly targeted Arabs, Muslims
  2. Senators in both parties agree: States must do more for higher education
  3. Ebola
    1. Ebola kills senior doctor in Liberia
    2. Liberia closes border crossings amid Ebola crisis
    3. Man who died of Ebola in Nigeria was American citizen
    4. 2nd American has Ebola in Liberia
    5. Health officials fear possible spread of Ebola virus beyond West Africa
    6. Ebola outbreak forces West African airline to halt flights
  4. Tentative agreement reached on US veterans' healthcare funding bill
  5. Cassini spacecraft reveals 101 geysers erupting on icy Saturn moon
  6. No one knows what's causing these mysterious radio bursts from space
  7. Religious violence in 2013 displaced millions
  8. Federal court blocks closing of sole Mississippi abortion clinic
  9. Colorado Supreme Court stops same-sex marriages in Boulder county
  10. Gay and bisexual youth are nearly 4 times more likely to attempt suicide
  11. Illinois insurance department issues bulletin on transgender coverage (its protected by law)

Image from The Equality Network's Facebook Page

Comic from the LA Times

Comic from Cagle
Comic from Cagle
Comic from Cagle
Comic from Cagle
Comic from PhD Comics
Comic from PhD Comics

24 July 2014

Headlines for 24 July 2014

Read headlines with comments on: Churches provide shelter in Gaza and are their grounds are being bombed by Israel, and UN shelter in Gaza bombed by Israel.

Read just headlines on: ExxonMobile will comply with new employment protections, 8th sitting GOP Congress member comes out for same-sex marriage, Clarification allows medical abortions to resume in Wisconsin, Sierra Leone's chief ebola doctor contracts ebola, Another botched execution in Arizona, 2nd judge rules against right-to-work in Indiana, Jobless claims in US at 8-year low, and Colorado's marriage ban is unconstitutional.

See just comics on: Climate change, Kansas falling apart, Malaysian plane destruction, Migrant kids, Writing as a grad student, and the word feminism.


Hiding in the shadow of the pastor in Gaza
When one thinks of Israel and Palestine, they think of Jews and Muslims. There is certainly more diversity than that. As Israel and the Gaza Strip continue their conflict, some Palestinians are taking refuge in Gaza's Christian churches. These churches are not immune to Israel's attacks, with at least five Christian graveyards and a funeral service car destroyed by tanks.

UN shelter for Gazan refugees bombed amid warning of 'dire' situation
Israel has also bombed a United Nations shelter without giving it warning. According to this article the death toll for this round of fighting is 732 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.


Just Headlines

  1. ExxonMobile agrees to comply with LGBT employment executive order
  2. Florida: US Rep David Jolly (R-FL) becomes eighth sitting GOP member of Congress to back same-sex marriage
  3. Clarification on 2012 abortion restrictions allows clinics to resume medication abortions in Wisconsin
  4. Sierra Leone's chief Ebola doctor contracts the virus
  5. Arizona inmate dies belatedly in apparently botched execution
  6. 2nd judge rules against Indiana right-to-work law
  7. Jobless claims in US unexpectedly drops to eight-year low
  8. Federal judge rules Colorado gay marriage ban unconstitutional, orders temporary stay


Just Comics
Comic from Cagle

Comic from Columbia Daily Tribune

Comic from Cagle

Comic from Cagle
Comic from PhD Comics
Image from Being Liberal's Facebook Page

22 July 2014

Headlines for 21 July 2014

Headlines with notes on: HIV/AIDS researchers on shot down Malaysian airliner, Cafe serves as breastfeeding pit stop, A woman discusses her abortion, and Obama signs executive order expanding sexual orientation and gender identity protections to government contractors.

Just headlines on: Muslims and Atheists least liked in US, In general the states who raised their minimum wage also had larger job growth, Marijuana researcher fights to get her job back, John Cho casting may be revolutionary for Asian representation in entertainment media,Study finds HIV establishes viral reservoir at very early stage, Industrial disasters more likely to impact low-income communities and communities of color, Earth continuing to break heat records, More Chikungunya cases in the United States, Very-expensive very-effective drugs could increase health insurance cost, and Death toll rises to 500 Gazans and 27 Israelis in current conflict.


Top AIDS researchers killed in Malaysian Airlines Crash
A number of HIV/AIDS research experts were on the Malaysian Airline that was shot down in Ukraine. They were on their way to a conference on HIV/AIDS.

Image from ThinkProgress
British cafe offers breastfeeding mothers a pit stop
Breastfeeding is an obvious choice for many mothers. Yet, even with many juristictions having laws to protect nursing mothers, some people are so afraid of boobs and female anatomy that they will attempt to force nursing mothers to hide themselves or not nurse in public at all. One cafe, instead, is offering nursing mothers a pit stop, regardless of whether or not they are customers. This is great to see, and hopefully it catches on more. Mothers and wet nurses should be able to nurse whenever they need to, to be able to do so in public, and to be able to show as much skin as they want or need to show in order to nurse.Nursing isn't something anyone should be ashamed of, and it is appaulling that anyone would have a problem with it.

Photo from the Huffington Post
What we don't talk about when we don't talk about abortion
As I've been discussing lately, there seems to be a movement for people to start telling their abortion stories. Women's rights are actively being rolled back at the moment, and this is threatening the health, safety, and freedom of women. Coming out has been an incredibly powerful political tool for the Queer community, and I think that for the people who are willing and able to tell their abortion stories, it will serve as a powerful tool. Women you know and respect have choosen abortion. There is nothing wrong with making that decision. Let's keep abortion safe and legal. You can check out projects like Not Alone to hear and/or share abortion stories. Also remember there are a number of resources in your community if you are considering or need an abortion or other reproductive health care services. These resources include organizations like Planned Parenthood.

Obama urges Congress to ban job bias against Gays
Today, Obama signed an executive order banning businesses that contract with the Federal government from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. While this does not protect all Americans, it is a significant move forward. It will require an act of Congress to protect all Americans from discrimination in employment, housing, et cetera on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


Just Headlines

17 July 2014

Headlines for 17 July 2014

Headlines with notes on: Tesla Model 3, Nevada Assemblywoman defends opening up about her abortion, 22 women's reasons for taking birth control, and Polio eradication still possible.

Just headlines on: Belgium appoints its first transgender MP, Israel begins ground invasion of Gaza, An update on Senate Republicans (image), and Florida marriage ban struck down (image).


Why Tesla's Model 3 could be the most important electric car ever
The premise of the article is that the new Tesla Model 3 will be reasonably affordable, aesthetically pleasing, and have an infrastructure that will make it much more competitive with cars running on fossil fuels. While Nissan and Mitsubishi both have sub-40k electric cars, they look like what you'd expect an electric car to look like, and there isn't the charging infrastructure. While Tesla still has work to do on the charging infrastructure, it at least covers a fair amount of the population. Also, for those who have seen a Tesla (there are a few in the Twin Cities for example), they are gorgeous cars. I guess we will see if this new Tesla really changes the game.

Tesla charging stations, map from Gizmodo
Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores defends decision to speak out about her abortion
There is nothing wrong with having or having had an abortion. You are not alone. As the war on women continues, ending the silence on abortion might be an important tool to ensure women continue to have rights over their bodies. Women have strong and powerful stories to tell about their decisions on terminating a pregnancy. Stories have power. I think coming out has been one of the most powerful tools the Queer community has had in fighting to secure our rights. Given that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in their lifetime, there are a lot of stories. There are a lot of people whose rights are at stake.

Image from Planned Parenthood
We asked 22 women why they take birth control and these are their answers
This is a photo essay. A variety of reasons are given - birth control, acne, cramps, period regulation, hormone regulation, empowerment, endometrosis, et cetera. I had to look up endometrosis, which is a condition in which the cells from the inside of one's uterus grow in other parts of the body. The photo I found the most powerful was the following:
Photo from Buzzfeed
Within reach: A redoubling of efforts should swiftly eradicate polio from its last strongholds
Humans were able to elimate smallpox from the wild thanks to an extensive vaccination effort. Rinderpest, a disease of cattle, has also be eradicated in the wild thanks to human efforts. Polio absolutely could be eradicated from human populations, ending a disease which has ravaged much of the world. This requires serious effort, but it can happen. This is a global venture, a human venture, and a way we can make a serious positive impact for future generations.

Infographic from Rotary International

Just Headlines
Image from US Senate Democrat's Facebook Page

16 July 2014

Headlines for 16 July 2014

Check out headlines with notes on: Nurse refuses to force-feed Gitmo detainee, Number of people living with HIV unchanged since 2012 plus new infections are decreasing, New pregnancy discrimination guidelines, FCC extends comment period on net neutrality to Friday at midnight, and Highway funding fight continues.

Check out just headlines on: New Thor is a woman, Court upholds use of race in UT admissions, The Mayo Clinic in Minnesota is ranked the best hospital in the country, GOP candidate mistakes YMCA kids for fearful migrants, $10 million to help tribes with climate change resiliency, Wasp released to help control emerald ash borer, Fed Chair says economy still needs Fed support, West Africa ebola tell toll surges, and Senate Republicans block a bill to fix Hobby Lobby decision.

Just comics on: Superweeds, and Immigrant children.


Nurse refuses to force-feed Gitmo detainee
The hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay continues, and so does the force feeding of these prisoners. A nurse has refused to participate. He was assigned to different duties. It is crazy to think Gitmo is still open. Both presidential candidates in 2008 ran on closing it. President Obama has been trying to close it for years and is being blocked by Congress every time. Congress needs to stop blocking this and let this facility be closed.

HIV News
1. Number of people living with HIV worldwide unchanged since 2012
2. UN: HIV infections decreasing, epidemic could be contained by 2030
Hopeful news in the fight against HIV. It still looks like humanity will live with the virus, but the hope of at least some level of control exists. Getting people tested and treated can vastly reduce new infections, and there has been work on increasing access to testing and treatment. There are likely a number of institutions in your area that provide HIV testing (some of which may be very affordable or even free), including places like Planned Parenthood, and in the Twin Cities the Red Door Clinic.

Image from ThinkProgress
Federal government releases new guidelines on pregnancy discrimination
While pregnancy status has been protected from discrimination, it has been narrowly interpreted historically. The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has released new guidelines. This is great news, though their is much work to do. The United States still lags behind a number of other countries on protections for pregnant women.

FCC extending net neutrality commenting time after site buckles
For those who haven't commented on net neutrality (aka preventing cable company f***ery), you now have until Friday at midnight! So far 780,000 comments have been made. The website couldn't handle all the comments and went under, so the deadline has been established. Please, please think about commenting. If net neutrality dies it may mean internet becomes a whole lot more like cable TV, and nobody wants that (except the cable companies)! You can comment at fcc.gov/comments (it is called "Protecting and promoting the open Internet").

As Congress fights over highway funding, roads feel pinch
Our infrastructure is aging. It also requires general maintainance. There is an easy but unpopular solution to this problem. Instead, Congress is looking for a band-aid.


Just Headlines
Marvel: New Thor is a woman
University of Texas flagship's use of race in admissions can stand, court rules
Mayo Clinic is tops in magazine's hospital rankings
GOP candidate mistakes YMCA kids for migrants, describes 'fear in their faces'
Bureau of Indian Affairs to start $10 million program to help tribes with climate change
Wasps let loose in Winona to fight ash borer
(Fed Chair) Yellen says economy still needs Fed(eral Reserve Bank) support
WHO: West Africa ebola death toll surges to 603
Image from NARAL Pro-Choice America's Facebook Page


Just Comics
Comic from Cagle
Comic from Cagle

13 July 2014

Not Alone

I just heard about Not Alone, a project to give a voice to women and support women who have exercised their right to have an abortion. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having an abortion. It is absolutely a woman's right, and a woman's decision. We need to keep abortion safe, legal, and accessible, and let women know there is absolutely nothing wrong with their decision.

I also highly recommend people watch the movie Obvious Child. Here is the trailer:

I will also suggesting checking out, volunteering, or donating to an organization like Planned Parenthood.

12 July 2014

Headlines for 12 July 2014


Check out headlines with notes on: Nixon White House tape on the Gays, Contraception saves A LOT of money, HIV detected in baby thought cured of the virus, the Civil Rights Act's gift to Trans* people, and University & library groups suggest net-neutrality principles.

Check out just headlines on: Australian olympian Ian Thorpe comes out, Indiana and Wisconsin marriage equality cases combined and fast-tracked, Lawns pose a threat to groundwater supplies, Anti-Obamacare ads may have increased enrollment, and Dozens of new ebola cases in west Africa.

Check out just comics on: Obama's immigrantion appropriations request, and Migrant children and the highway trust fund.


Guess who I get to see


Nixon on White House tapes: Gays born that way
Tapes from former President Nixon have him talking about Gay people being born that way, but also apparently we suck the vitality out of society. It is definitely amusing to read/listen to.

Birth control saves money. Lots of it.
This is kind of a given, but it is an important part of the contraception-coverage conversation. Estimates include contraception saving $4.26 for every $1 put in (this is less than Colorado estimated itself saving from its contraception coverage program). This cost savings should be recognized in contraception coverage discussions.

HIV detected in 'Mississippi baby' who doctors thought was cured of virus
Doctors had thought they may have cured a baby of HIV with antiretroviral drugs. Unfortunately the virus has reappeared in this child. We have a lot to learn about retroviruses.

The Civil Rights Act's unintended gift to Transgender rights
Sex discrimination protections protect transgender individuals. In 1989 the Supreme Court ruled in Price Waterhouse v Hopkins that assuming a woman fits a sex stereotype is discrimination on the basis of sex. While many states (such as Minnesota), and cities (such as West Lafayette, Indiana) protect on the basis of gender identity and gender expression, it is important to remember that this is a specific innumeration that is important for diversity and inclusion (and avoids a lot of unneccessary fighting, pain, and suffering), but not required to protect Trans* individuals.

From Wikipedia. Dark purple protects from employment discrimination for all people on the basis of gender identity and expression. Pink only protects people seeking public employment.

11 University and library groups release net-neutrality principles
The FCC comment period on Net Neutrality (aka Preventing Cable Company F***ery) closes on July 15th. You can submit a comment concerning this to the FCC at FCC.gov/comments . Many institutions are concerned about the effects of allowing internet service providers to have different speeds for different websites. This is especially true for nonprofit organizations.


Just Headlines
Australian Olympic gold medalist Ian Thorpe comes out as Gay
Appeals court joins, fast tracks Indiana, Wisconsin same-sex marriage cases
Quest to save groundwater aims at love for lush, green lawns
Anti-Obamacare ads may have increased enrollment
Dozens of new Ebola cases bring West Africa death toll to 539


Just Comics
Comic from Cagle. Referring to the $3.7 billion Obama requested for the child migrant issue, and the wildly successful kickstarter about making potato salad.
Comic from Cagle. Referring to Congress' refusal to work on the child migrant issue and to fix the highway trust fund funding issue.

10 July 2014

Headlines for 10 July 2014

Check out headlines with notes on: A Hawaiian plant is being threatened by changes in temperature and precipitation, Gay blood drive activism, Even poor whites have it better than Blacks, The power of graduate students, Child easily identifies sign that Fox reporters can't figure out, Pipeline spill in ND may take months to clean up and impact drinking water, and the US needs cost-benefit analysis of incarciration.

Check out just headlines on: 5000+ same-sex marriages in Illinois, Bill Gates backing birth control with wireless on-off switch, Rare 80-year-old agave begins to bloom at University of Michigan botanic garden, Stress and discrimination contribute to Queer community's health problems and suicide rate, Laverne Cox becomes first Trans* person nominated for an Emmy, Cosmos got nominated for 12 Emmys, Judge rules Boulder Colorado can continue to issue marriage licenses, Denver to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Soybean pathogen may thrive with climate change, One year since NC slipped abortion restrictions into a motorcycle safety bill (infographic), and Governor Pence of Indiana's hypocracy.

Check out some political cartoons on the Hobby Lobby decision and the Detained Attempted-Migrant Children.


Atop a volcano, a rare plant meets its match
Silverswords in Hawaii are having a hard time keeping up with the increased temperature and decreased precipitation in recent years. There currently is a research project examining exactly how much water these plants need. Climate change is now having to be considered explicitely in the management of this species.

Gay blood drive aims to lift donation ban
Currently, any man who has sex with another man since 1977 is ineligible to donate blood. Regardless of whether or not this may have made sense in the past, it doesn't make much sense now, yet the FDA has not repealed the ban. The Red Cross has even called for the ban to be removed. This article highlights how a Purdue student is plugging into a current effort to get the ban overturned - by highlighting the willingness of men who have sex with men to donate blood through the National Gay Blood Drive.

Surprised? Even poor whites have it better than Blacks
Sadly, unless you live under a rock or are a racist, it is no surprise that racism is alive and well. Many act as if social class is the overriding system of oppression, but stories like this are why I have a hard time with that. I think this video of Neil deGrasse Tyson discussing African Americans in the sciences is a very articulate way of putting the issue:

The power of graduate students
This article was in the Chronicle of Higher Education's Academe Today email. Graduate students are essentially for the functioning of many university systems. Graduate students can and must organize and make demands - both for the health of themselves and the health of the university. All too often we hear about graduate students told to avoid extra/co-curriculars, such as graduate student government and unions. This strongly hurts the university system.

Watch a child dismantle Fox's panic over gender-neutral restrooms
Gender-neutral restrooms are an obvious choice. They are more efficient, make people more comfortable (whether they are trans*, gender nonconforming, been victims of certain kinds of violence, need to take children with them, etc). Fox News loves fake hystery, and they've been trying to create it over desegregated restrooms. In this clip, nobody has a hard time with the sign, except the Fox reporters.

Cleanup of North Dakota pipeline spill could take weeks
The North Dakota oil boom has led to a number of things, and one of those things is spills. This spill was saltwater, a biproduct of oil production. This spill may have also contaminated drinking water for a Native American reservation.

The price of sentencing people to prison
While crime in the United States has decreased, our prison populations have grown. It is very costly to incarcirate a person, and incarciration length may affect the ability of someone to economically contribute after they have served their sentence. A cost-benefit analysis of incarciration is necessary.


Just Headlines
More than 5000 same-sex marriages in Illinois
Bill Gates backs birth control with wireless on-off switch
U-M botanical garden's rare 80-year-old American agave begins to bloom
Stress, discrimination makes LGBT community more vulnerable to health problems, suicide
Laverne Cox is the first transgender performer to be nominated for an Emmy
Cosmos just got nominated for 12 Emmys
Judge: Boulder can continue issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Denver city clerk says she will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples
Climate change provides good growing conditions for charcoal rot in soybeans

Image from Planned Parenthood Action's Facebook Page
Governor Mike Pence (R-IN), hypocrite. Photo by Christopher Pratt


Comic from the Political Cartoon Tumblr
Comic by Rob Roger
Comic by Rob Roger
Comic by Nick Anderson

Comic from WWJTD
Comic by Rob Roger
Comic by Nick Anderson

09 July 2014

Headlines for 9 July 2014

Take action: Call Indiana Governor Pence (317-232-4567) and ask him to reverse his decision and recognize marriages performed in the state between same-sex couples.

Check out the following coverage on the Hobby Lobby ruling: Democrats have heard the response to the ruling, and Obama still punking GOP on contraception.

It was also a big day on environmental issues, including: Cutting US emissions to 1901 levels is possible if we had the will, World could avoid temperature increase over 2C if we have the will, It is hot enough to damage the economy and will only get worse, and neonicotinoids are hurting birds in addition to bees.

Check out headlines with notes on: Utah to appeal same-sex marriage case to the Supreme Court, Gitmo brass oppossing testifying on force-feedings, What Obama can do on immigration without Congress, and Secret bases will return in new pokemon games.

Check out just headlines on: Ebola continues to kill in West Africa, sand-based lithium ion batteries made, and Colorado ban on marriage equality ruled unconstitutional.

Take Action

Indiana won't recognize same-sex marriages performed last month
Several hundred marriages took place between the district court decision and the 7th Circuit stay. The state has decided not to recognize these legal marriages (the Federal government, of course, will). That said it will recognize a single marriage as ordered by the 7th Circuit, but it will not recognize any of the others.

Tell Indiana's governor to recognize same-sex marriages performed before the stay! Photo from Hoosiers United for Marriage's Facebook Page

Hobby Lobby Ruling Aftermath

Posted on Planned Parenthood Action's Facebook Page
Democrats push bill to reverse Supreme Court ruling on contraceptives
While this isn't likely to pass it will put heat on Republicans, who are obstructing access to contraceptives for women who work at closely-held corporations that choose to align themselves with a religion.

Obama's contraception mandate: still punking the GOP
This article essentially notes that it is great for Democrats for the GOP to continue to get more vehemently anti-contraception, and compares what is happening now to what happened before with religious non-profits.


Environmental Issues

Fix the climate problem? Easy. Cut US emissions to 1901 levels
While this sounds crazy it is technically feasible. It mainly requires changing our energy sources. It does require some increase in efficiency (this isn't directly written in the article but a reduction in liquid fuels by 46% and increase in electricity by 20% suggests an increase in efficiency to me). Remember the simple steps we can all take (and these are steps that will save you money!) - replace incandescent lightbulbs with CFL (or even better, LED), unplug your phone and laptop charger when not using them, etc. Unfortunately, these changes do require political buy-in...

World can still stop globe from warming more than 2C, experts tell UN
While a number of the recent forecasts have been bleak, concerted efforts by governments could prevent warming beyond 2C. Warming beyond 2C is of course expected. The changes have already begun, and are worse than were predicted. That said, there are still actions we can take to reduce the damage we are going to see in the future!

How hot is it? Hot enough to ruin the economy
Worker productivity is reduced by the increasing number of hot days. Higher temperatures also mean higher electrical demand and thus higher energy costs. Violent crime expected to increase. Loss of coastal property. Heat-related injuries and death. There is a pretty big reason why Business leaders say climate change threatens the economy.

Comic from Sydney Green Ring
Second Silent Spring? Bird declines linked to popular pesticides
We already knew neonicotinoids are a problem for bees. It appears these pesticides are also a problem for some birds. I think we can see the way this is heading.


Utah to appeal same-sex marriage case to US Supreme Court
Looks like there is a very good chance the Supreme Court will hear a same-sex marriage case next term. Utah is going to go directly to the Supreme Court instead of asking for an en banc review by the 10th Circuit Court. Due to the large number of cases on the subject, I think it is fairly likely the Supreme Court will take the case. That said, there has not yet been a circuit split, so they could potentially wait until such a split occurrs.

Gitmo brass testifying on force-feeding would be bad for morale, US says
Gitmo really needs shut down. It is embarrassing for the United States that this place is still open, and that is all due to Congress (who has continued to pass legislation blocking closing the facility). In order to deal with a hunger strike that has been occurring there, prisoners are being force-fed. This piece is truly a sad mark, that people are so oppossed to even a hearing on the topic. It is all very shameful.

How Obama can fix the immigration system without Congress
Well, he can't really fix it, but he can tinker with it some and improve millions of peoples' lives. Since he directs the executive, he can have some level of deregulation for administrative rules. This could still be beneficial to millions of currently undocumented immigrants that are potentially-new Americans or migrant workers.

Yay, one of Pokemon's best features is coming back
Secret bases will return for Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire!

Photo of a Gen 3 remake secrete base from Kotaku


Just Headlines
WHO: Newest ebola cases lead to 25 deaths in West Africa
Researchers create sand-based lithium ion batteries
Judge: Colorado same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional

08 July 2014

Headlines for 8 July 2014

Check out these headlines with notes: Tick that spreads a red meat allergy in US, Benghazi investigation gets more money than Veterans Affairs committee, Three paths to get to full employment, Colorado birth control program shows amazing results, Can four people run a university, and Use of force in classrooms needs to change. Also check out these headlines: California must improve vaccination rates, JK Rowling releases a new Harry Potter story online, two Android Wear smartwatches released, Obama asks for $3.7 billion to stop flow of children across the border, and Smallpox vials discovered in lab storage.


Ticks that spread red meat allergy
There are ticks that spread a red meat allergy (including what can be some quite severe reactions)! Crazy! This is just the lone star tick. We also have deer ticks which can spread Lyme disease. I'm lucky that out in Western Minnesota the ticks are mainly dog ticks. If you wonder what the three tick species look like, here they are:
Picture from the Columbus Dispatch
Congress may spend more on the Benghazi panel than on the Veterans Affairs committee
Republicans are really committed to this fake scandal. Here we have a real, serious scandal with the Veterans Affairs debackle, and instead they continue to pour time and money into the Benghazi investigation.

Three paths to full employment
While the jobs numbers were good news, they still show how far we are from recovered. Full employment could still be years off at this pace. That said, there are things we could do to speed recovery. (1) The government could spend more money. Every one knows this. The government can borrow money super cheap too. That said, this isn't politically popular. Money spent now could save us money in the future though. A great place to put money would be in retrofitting buildings to reduce greenhouse gas emission, or in infrastructure. (2) Decrease the value of the dollar. This would make exports more practical, imports less practical, hence helping our trade deficiet. (3) Encourage businesses to reduce employees work hours (hence allowing them to have more employees). Americans work A LOT. This could be reduced to help employment (say mandating more sick leave and vacation time, shortening the workday, etc).

Colorado teen birth rate plummets
Colorado in 2009 created a program to help low-income women get access to contraception. The state has seen a 40% reduction in the teen birth rate, 35% drop in teen abortion rate, 23% decrease in WIC caseload (a welfare program), and saved money on teen healthcare ($42.5 million in 2010 alone). Apparently the program has saved $5.68 in Medicaid costs for ever $1 spent. If you want to know why contraception should be covered, this is a stunning example of why!

Can 4 people run the whole [university] shebang?
This was from the Chronicle of Higher Education's Academe Today email. Apparently four professors have applied to share the top administrative role at the University of Alberta. This article examines the practicality of this idea, and potential problems. It seems like a pretty cool idea given the right four people. Hopefully we will get some more examples that will let us see how this functions.

Use of force in classroom betrays vulnerable students
Use of violence as a means of enforcing order in schools is a problem, and doesn't help prepare students for life outside of the classroom. Instead of getting violent and using force, schools should instead use methods that work to increase the emotional intelligence of students such as peer dialogue, counseling, and access to mental health services at school. Also, zero-tolerance policies must go, as they escalate issues quickly. School should be an educational environment, including conflict resolution.


Just Headlines
Editorial: California must improve vaccination rates
J.K. Rowling has released a new Harry Potter story online
Two Android Wear smartwatches launched with new features
Obama seeks $3.7B to stem tide of kids crossing border
Smallpox vials discovered in lab storage room