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Thumbs up to the U.S. Senate and a hardy congratulations to Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, for the birth of her daughter, Miley.

This week, Duckworth's newborn daughter became the first infant permitted on the Senate floor following a significant change to the historically stuffy chamber's rules.

Senate debates often occur at irregular times and votes can be spur of the moment, Duckworth argued.  The rule change, unanimously approved this week, would permit her to both feed her child and serve her constituents, she said.

Duckworth and her daughter are powerful because they're symbolic of a nation-wide problem facing women who rightly believe that motherhood and a career can and should go hand-in-hand. It also speaks to the growing number of women in an upper house still dominated by men.

But throughout large swaths of the country, women still have to choose between their careers and their children. And legitimate equity between the sexes will never be possible until the law recognizes the two are not mutually exclusive.

This week, the U.S. Senate recognized that fact among one of its own. Perhaps stodgy senators will now extend the sentiment to all women through necessary legal protection.

Thumbs down to proponents of salvaging Rock Island County's out-of-date courthouse for thinking a tax hike is in anyway acceptable.

Estimates say a rehab of the old county building would cost about $20 million. Preservationists had hoped a private entity would step up and take it on. Unsurprisingly, no one wants it.

So, in a final desperate attempt for victory, preservationists this week called for a sales tax hike to pay for overhauling the building. And they're doing it in a county that already struggles to pay its bills and where citizens are over-taxed to begin with.

Tone deaf. 

Thumbs up to MetroLINK for launching electric buses in the Quad-Cities. The zero-emissions buses this week started carrying passengers.

Electric vehicles very well might be the future. They generate instant torque and, during operation, don't pump greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere.

But the technology is in its infancy. Batteries remain inefficient and electric vehicles will never be truly environmentally friendly until fossil fuels are no longer the backbone of the electrical grid. 

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