Prometheus and Pandora V

Prometheus

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and his beloved Pandora

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She must have let Trump out

are with you again to share rants, opinions, a bit of science and literature and whatever comes into their minds. They wish all their Muslim friends:

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as Ramadan ends and the festival begins on June 25.

They also wish their Canadian friends a happy Canada Day on July 1

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and their USA friends a happy Independence Day on July 4:

The Charity Corner has found a home on the Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action site. Prometheus and Pandora hope that you will visit there, take the actions and make the donations.

CONGRATULATIONS

Prometheus and Pandora, along with their imaginary playmates YandA, congratulate the Israeli writer David Grossman on his winning the Man Booker International prize for the year’s best fiction in translation.  The GBP50,000 prize will be shared with his translator. It was awarded for his novel A Horse Walks into a Bar.  We say cheers–we are all long time fans of Grossman and are fortunate enough to read him in the original Hebrew. We quote the citation:

“David Grossman has attempted an ambitious high-wire act of a novel, and he’s pulled it off spectacularly,” said the chair of judges and director of the Edinburgh international book festival Nick Barley. “A Horse Walks into a Bar shines a spotlight on the effects of grief, without any hint of sentimentality. The central character is challenging and flawed, but completely compelling. We were bowled over by Grossman’s willingness to take emotional as well as stylistic risks: every sentence counts, every word matters in this supreme example of the writer’s craft.”

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High-wire act’ … David Grossman poses with his book A Horse Walks Into a Bar. Photograph: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

WELCOME THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

The summer solstice is about to occur and summer will be with us officially. The data on the event for this year can be found here.

 

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Summer solstice at Stonehenge, with the sun rising in the distance. Credit: Paul Grover for the Telegraph

The stone circle at Stonehenge comes into use–it was build over 3000 years ago to mark the beginning of summer and the sun will reach it maximum northern declination June 21, 2017 at 4:24 UTC. We have solstices on Earth because Earth does not orbit upright. Instead, our world is tilted on its axis by 23-and-a-half degrees, and our Northern and Southern Hemispheres trade places in receiving the  light and warmth of the Sun most directly.

At the June solstice, Earth is positioned in its orbit so that our North Pole is leaning most toward the sun. As seen from Earth, the sun is directly overhead at noon 23 1/2 degrees north of the equator, at an imaginary line encircling the globe known as the Tropic of Cancer named after the constellation Cancer the Crab. This is as far north as the sun ever gets. Here is a map of its progress last year

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The sunset has been making its way north, as illustrated in this 2016 photo composite by Abhijit Juvekar.

People, including Druids and tourists gather at Stonehenge to see the sunrise through the slit aimed for it eons ago.

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The Pagan monument Stonehenge is famously aligned to the solstices.  Credit: Paul Grover for the Telegraph

IN MEMORIAM

The victims of the Grenfell Tower fire in London

On Wednesday, June 14 fire broke out at the Grenfell Tower apartment building in North Kensington, London. The fire started shortly before 1 a.m. local time (UTC+1). Hundreds of firefighters and 45 fire engines were involved in efforts to control the fire. Firefighters were trying to control pockets of fire on the higher floors after most of the rest of the building had been gutted. The number of dead may rise to over 100 and public anger at the failures of the government to enforce building safety regulations is growing.

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JUNE MILESTONES

Born in June

4 June 1975 Angelina Jolie

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Actress, Activist, Director, Producer, Film Actor/Film Actress, Film Actress, Activist(1975–)

14 June 1946 Donald Trump

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Business Leader, Reality Television Star, U.S. President(1946–)

24 June Lionel Messi

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Argentinian footballer, plays for Barcelona, considers one of the all time great players (1987-).

His attitude towards the game: ““I have changed nothing, my style of play is still that of a child. I know that above all it is my job and that I should approach it in another way, but one must not lose sight of the fact that football is a game. It is imperative one plays to amuse oneself, to be happy. That is what children do and I do the same thing.” (total Barca)

28 June 1491 Henry VIII Tudor (1491-1547) 

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King of England 1509-1547 His religious reformation turned England into a Protestant nation

“Two beheadings out of six wives is too many.”

28 June 1971 Elon Musk

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South African-American Engineer, Inventor, Explorer

Died in June

3 June 1924 Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

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Czech author Franz Kafka explored the human struggle for understanding and security in his novels such as Amerika, The Trial and The Castle.

Youth is happy because it has the ability to see beauty. Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

10 June 2004 Ray Charles (1930-2004)

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Pianist, Songwriter, Singer: He was a pioneer of soul music, integrating R&B, gospel, pop and country to create hits like “Unchain My Heart,” “Hit the Road Jack” and “Georgia on My Mind.” A blind genius, he is considered one of the greatest artists of all time.

15 June 1996 Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996)

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American jazz and song vocalist known as the “First Lady of Song” and “Lady Ella,” the first African-American woman to win a Grammy Award. Over her career she won 13 Grammys in total and sold more than 40 million albums.

18 June 1936 Maxim Gorky (1868-1936)

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Maxim Gorky rose from poverty to become a leading Russian author. He was a Bolshevik supporter, but became a critic when Vladimir Lenin seized power in 1917.

25 June 1997 Jacques Cousteau (1910–1997)

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He was a French undersea explorer, researcher, photographer and documentary host who invented diving and scuba devices, including the Aqua-Lung. He also conducted underwater expeditions and produced films and television series, including the Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau.

RANT–FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION

Prometheus and Pandora as well as YandA are furious opponents of female genital mutilation aka FGM. This is a brutal practice in which the genital organs of girls are cut and mutilated in various ways. The World Health Organization defines four major types of FGM, which vary with ethnicity:

Current estimates (from surveys of women older than 15 years old) indicate that around 90% of female genital mutilation cases include either:

  • Types I (mainly clitoridectomy)
  • II (excision) or
  • Type III (infibulation). Infibulation, which is the most severe form of FGM, is mostly practiced in the north-eastern region of Africa: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, and Sudan. In West-Africa (Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, etc.), the tendency is to
    remove flesh (clitoridectomy and/or excision) without sewing the labia minora and/or majora together.
  • IV (“nicking” without flesh removed), and about10% (over 8 million women)

This map shows the distribution of the procedure by country in Africa.

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Lest anyone in the so-called civilized West be complacent, we note that FGM is a global problem. Three million girls are cut every year across the world. As you may note, in some African, Middle Eastern and Indonesian countries the majority of women have had FGM.

FGM takes place all over the world, even in countries where the practice is illegal. It is estimated that 23,000 girls are cut in the UK every year. We note that the practice has
recently been discovered in the United States. Jumana Nagarwala, an emergency room physician in Detroit, is accused of performing the procedure on girls aged between six and eight and then lying to investigators when confronted.

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Jumana Nagarwala. Photograph: Handout

The crime is not confined to Muslim cultures. A white American girl was subjected to a clitoridectomy at age three to keep her from masturbating!

Human rights organizations, including Human Rights Watch  and Amnesty International have come out against it, especially Daughters of Eve who are taking a leading role in the struggle.

CONFLICT IN MYANMAR

Amnesty International has brought out a new report on the human rights abuses taking place in the northern provinces of Myanmar. The conflict in Myanmar’s Kachin and northern Shan States has now entered its seventh year, pitting the Myanmar Army against a range of ethnic armed groups in areas near the border with China. An escalation in fighting since November 2016 has seen a rise in the Army’s violations against civilians, which in some cases amount to war crimes. Ethnic armed groups have also committed serious abuses.

On three visits to the conflict between March and May 2017, Amnesty International has documented a shocking pattern of violations against civilians.

A forgotten conflict by the numbers

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98,000 Civilians displaced by the conflict in northern Myanmar as of June 2017

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65 Recorded civilian casualties in first half of 2017 from landmines or explosive remnants of war in Kachin and Shan States

 

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6 Years since fighting resumed in northern Myanmar following a 17-year ceasefire

The Myanmar Army

Although a quasi-civilian government came to power under Aung San Suu Kyi’s leadership in March 2016, the Myanmar Army retains considerable political and economic power. It is free from any civilian oversight. In Parliament, the military holds a quarter of the seats, and it also has overall control of the Ministries of Defense, Border Affairs and Home Affairs. All three ministries are key in protecting and upholding human rights. The Commander-in-Chief of the Myanmar Armed Forces, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, has the authority to ensure that serious violations are investigated and prosecuted. Amnesty International is calling on him to bring such violations to an end, remove the perpetrators from front line duties and ensure accountability.

 

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Aung San Suu Kyi

Prometheus and Pandora ask where is the human rights leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi. When she was under house arrest by the army, we worked tirelessly on her behalf. She failed us on the issue of the Rohingya minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. Now when we find a similar pattern of abuse of abuse of other minority groups in Kachin and northern Shan states, her efforts do not seem effective.

To be fair, we must note that her government and party have made the peace process and national reconciliation one of their top priorities, and held major peace conferences in August 2016 and May 2017.

Despite these efforts, the conflicts in Kachin and northern Shan States have not only continued but intensified over the past seven months. In order for the process to succeed, it will have to be rooted in accountability and respect for the rights of all civilians, including ethnic minorities. Prometheus and Pandora join the call of the international community  to intensify all efforts to bring this calamity to an end.

HOME SWEET HOME

There are countless things worthy of rants going on in Israel as usual. Prometheus and Pandora would like to focus on the Occupation as they note the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and the calamity it generated. Several studies of the situation have been published and David Shulman reviews five of them in the New York Review of Books.

Shulman analyzes the conflict as described from various aspects in these five books.  The main conclusion is that there will be no peace as long as Israel has the option of not making sacrifices for peace. The point made by Thrall that only coercion  can cause Israel to take steps toward a settlement is fully consistent with the historical record. When Baker and the elder Bush applied arm twisting in the form of stopping aid to Israel or not providing guarantees for billions of dollars in loans from banks, Shamir, the PM at the time went to the Madrid conference and then the Oslo peace agreements came about. It is no accident that the real process of  peace between Israel and the Palestinians was scuppered  by the assassination of Rabin.
The peace treaty with Egypt was facilitated by the pressure applied by Carter and the treaty with Jordan and the agreement with the Palestinian leadership was helped greatly by Clinton. Since then, no American or European leader has put real pressure on Israel to come to reasonable terms with the Palestinians. The ins and outs of the  history of the Occupation are discussed in detail in the reviews of these five books.
The main issue emphasized by Shulman is the moral decay of the Israeli nation caused by the half century of oppressing a people and the corruption of moral values of generations of young soldiers. To quote Shulman:
“In the end, it is this ongoing moral failure of the country as a whole that is most consequential, most dangerous, and most unacceptable. This failure weighs more heavily on our humanity than any of the concerns mentioned earlier. We are, so we claim, the children of the prophets. Once, they say, we were slaves in Egypt. We know all that can be known about slavery, suffering, prejudice, ghettos, hate, expulsions, exile. I still find it astonishing that we, of all people, have reinvented apartheid in the West Bank.”
Prometheus and Pandora share his sorrow and concern.

SOMETHING FROM SCIENCE

JUNO GIVES US A NEW JUPITER

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Juno spacecraft

Juno is in a polar orbit around Jupiter, and the majority of each orbit is spent well away from the gas giant. But, once every 53 days, its trajectory approaches Jupiter from above its north pole, where it begins a two-hour transit (from pole to pole) flying north to south with its eight science instruments collecting data and its JunoCam public outreach
camera snapping pictures. The download of six megabytes of data collected during the transit can take 1.5 days.

The early data indicate that our preconceived knowledge of the giant planet will require major revision. We congratulate our friends and colleagues who are participating in this great project and wish them all success. Nature will never cease to confound and captivate us.

 

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GIF showing infrared emission from Jupiter, as observed by NASA’s Juno spacecraft.
Credit: S.J. Bolton et al., Science (2017)

 SILLY TIME

What If has something funny this time.

$2 Undecillion Lawsuit

What if Au Bon Pain lost this lawsuit and had to pay the plaintiff $2 undecillion?

—Kevin Underhill

Think about it–2*10**36 bucks, more money than there is in the world. Cheers Mr. Purisma.

WUMO AND WE HAVE HAD IT WITH ISRAELIS APPLAUDING EVERY LANDING

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One thought on “Prometheus and Pandora V

  1. Judy

    While I agree completely with what you write about FGM, people then challenge me asking why circumcision is better. My answer is of course that it’s much much less harmful to the child (if at all) but then they say “ritual mutilation is ritual mutilation!” My answer remains the same.

    Reply

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