Well, we’re still standing, but—as they say each week on the excellent Lovett or Leave It podcast—”What a week!”
We had the SOTU address, or as my witty friend referred to it, the STFU address. Nunes released his memo (which, happily, turned out to be a complete nothingburger). On top of these highlights, the week was full of the usual quota of moments designed to make us either bang our heads against the wall or crawl under the bed (including a new and terrifying nuclear arsenal policy, 45’s refusal to impose sanctions against Russia, and then 45 inviting Russian intelligence operatives to come by for a chat).
BUT … we’re not here to talk about that stuff. We’re here to talk about Good News, and there actually was some.
In local good news:
- Not hyper local, but our neighbors to the north are doing good work: Montpelier High School is first high school in country to raise Black Lives Matter flag
- The Massachusetts Senate has unanimously approved a bill aimed at eliminating several antiquated state laws still on the books. Among the laws that would be eliminated by the bill are a ban on unmarried people having access to contraception; a ban on distributing information about how to access contraception or abortions; and a law which would punish pharmacists, doctors and other health care providers for distributing contraception or performing an abortion.
- Natural solutions to pests? What a concept! Stripes of wildflowers across farm fields could cut pesticide spraying – The stripy fields have been planted across England as part of a trial to boost the natural predators of pests that attack cereal crops
- Washington’s Governor Just Killed the Proposed Columbia River Oil Shipping Terminal – Governor Inslee says the project would have risked public and environmental health.
- EPA backs away from allowing gold mining near Bristol Bay in Alaska putting one of the world’s largest fisheries for sockeye salmon at risk.*
- The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the EPA cannot shelter its “waters of the United States” rule (WOTUS) from judicial review by limiting the federal courts where suits can be brought for violations. The Clean Water Act, allows those harmed by WOTUS to sue in any federal district court within six years, but the EPA rewrote the rules limiting cases to only the federal courts of appeal and only within 120 days and kept all the challenges to a single appellate court.*
- Australia announced plans to invest $60m to reduce damage to the Great Barrier Reef.*
There’s also some good news on the elections front.
- Music to our ears: The GOP could lose 40 House seats this November
- Judge strikes down Florida’s system for denying felons’ voting rights – U.S. District Judge Mark Walker said Florida’s voter restoration process unfairly relies on the personal support of Gov. Rick Scott.
- More and more House Republicans are deciding they want no part of the 2018 elections. And that will help Democrats.
- As examples: Trey Gowdy and Frelinghuysen. See ya!
- Candidates of color get off the sidelines in the age of Trump: ‘The soul of America is at stake right now’
- Democrat Austin Davis won a special election to the PA House of Representatives and is the first black man in the county to be elected outside of downtown Pittsburgh.*
- The NC State Supreme Court struck down the Republican-led General Assembly efforts to take the democratic governor’s control over the elections boards at the state and county levels away.*
And here’s what’s happening on the social, civil, and economic equality and justice front:
- Did you know there’s a site that ranks corporations based on how well they’re doing on the gender equality front? LedBetter is a research group that runs a database and application showcasing the number of women in leadership at the world’s top consumer brands and companies. Check it out, and align yourself with the brands who are getting the leadership right.
- On a related note, the Medieval Times entertainment company has rewritten their entire performance storyline around having a queen as the primary focus and leader rather than a king. Pretty cool!
- Here’s some common sense: Maryland Passed a Bill to Strip Rapists of Parental Rights – The law will allow victims to terminate their rapists’ rights to children conceived from the rape.
- Canada has made its national anthem gender-neutral
- Republicans give up on Obamacare repeal – Most GOP lawmakers aren’t interested in another failed effort to gut the health law in an election year.
- First active-duty, same-sex couple married at West Point.
- A survivor of child marriage, rape, and pregnancy at the age of eleven, Sherry Johnson is making great strides to end child marriage in America.
- To be filed under, “Duh” … Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, C.D.C. Director, Resigns Over Tobacco and Other Investments (Brenda, you’re supposed to STOP people from smoking, not invest in cigarette companies.)
- Senate Rejects Measure to Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy
- Cleveland Indians dropping Chief Wahoo logo from uniforms
- The Colorado Supreme Court ruled that state payments to Planned Parenthood for providing non-abortion health care services, such as cancer screenings are not prohibited by the state constitution. *
- Texas announced an initiative giving driver’s license applicants the option to donate toward testing old rape kits has raised nearly $25,000 in January.*
- The U.S. Government Accountability Office agreed to take up an investigation into fake comments being filed to the FCC regarding proposed net neutrality rule repeal.*
- New domestic abuse law ‘could change Scotland’
We’re also hearing some promising news on the Russia investigation front:
- Favorite headline on this topic: The Nunes memo is out. It’s a joke and a sham.
- Also, the generally conservative Wall Street Journal has this to say, “FBI texts show no evidence of conspiracy”
- While he seems to have trouble consistently picking the right side of the battle, McCain sometimes steps up: John McCain Says Trump Is ‘Doing Putin’s Job for Him’ by Attacking the FBI
- This is almost too good to even think about in case we jinx it, but … Russia probe lawyers think Mueller could indict Trump – Many legal scholars doubt a U.S. vs. Trump case is possible, but two attorneys who have dealt with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team disagree. One expects Mueller to move as early as this spring.
And in miscellaneous, fun, and slightly snarky good news:
- For those of us not caught up in the national fervor of the NFL Superbowl, there is always Animal Planet’s Puppybowl or the Hallmark Channel’s Kitten Bowl. More kittens and puppies, please!
- So. Cannot. Wait. For. This. Movie. ‘Black Panther’ is outselling every previous superhero film in advance ticket sales
- And there’s this side story: Octavia Spencer plans to buy out Mississippi screening of ‘Black Panther’ for underserved communities
- And, on Broadway: Actor John Leguizamo’s Broadway Show Spells Out How ‘Latinos Participated In The Making Of America’
- University of Pennsylvania strips Steve Wynn, Bill Cosby of honors
- While you were arguing about the anthem, Colin Kaepernick just finished donating $1 million
- Random goodness: Turkish Garbage Collectors Open Library Full of Discarded Books
* Hat tip to What Went Right (WWR)
“Mass State House Dome”: Photo Credit: twiga_swala Flickr via Compfight cc“Planet Earth”: From Morguefile
“Planet Earth”: From Morguefile
“I Voted”: standing8 Flickr via Compfight cc
“Blind Justice”: Government of Prince Edward Island Flickr via Compfight cc
“Russia Sickle”: AK Rockefeller Flickr via Compfight cc
“Snark Kitty”: Gratisography