Category Archives: Arkeeblog

Prometheus and Pandora XVI

Our feature image: A blood moon rises over Marseille, southern France, Friday, July 27, 2018. Curiosity and awe have greeted a complete lunar eclipse, the longest one of this century. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)

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.

RANTS AND RAVES

This month there is so much to rant and rave about, both at home and worldwide, that Prometheus and Pandora have no idea where to start. Let us start with the closest and the possibly worst.

RANT ON A FASCIST LAW

The Knesset overnight, 17-18/7, passed into law the contentious nation-state bill that for the first time enshrines Israel as “the national home of the Jewish people, ” in its quasi-constitutional Basic Laws. The law also declares that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, sets the Hebrew calendar as the official calendar of the state, and recognizes Independence Day, days of remembrance and Jewish holidays. One clause of the bill downgrades the Arabic language from official to “special” standing, but also cryptically stipulates that “this clause does not harm the status given to the Arabic language before this law came into effect.” Read the full text of the law here.
This law is another lethal blow against democracy in Israel. In an unusual public critique of proposed legislation, President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter Tuesday morning to Knesset members urging them to amend the controversial bill aimed at enshrining Israel’s Jewish character in law, saying that the measure “could harm the Jewish people, Jews throughout the world and the State of Israel.”
Michael Schaeffer Omer-Man puts it well in +972, ” You can look at the Jewish Nation-State law from two perspectives. There is the message it was intended to send to Jews: a positive affirmation of Israel as the Jewish nation-state; as the Jewish homeland; as the state of the Jews; a reassuring and nationalist message that says ‘this country is yours and yours alone.”

The other message, the inverse, meant for Palestinians, is: “this is not your land; this country does not belong to you, irrespective of whether you are an Israeli citizen living in the home of your great-grandparents or a refugee yearning to return to the land of your grandparents; your culture, language, and history are at best tolerated — this is not their home, this is not your homeland.”

The Jewish Nation-State Law states, implicitly and explicitly, that Israel belongs not to all of its citizens, over 20 percent of whom are not Jewish. Instead, it declares that Israel belongs to the Jewish people, some half of whom are not Israeli citizens.

It tells all of us that we are well on the way to becoming an apartheid fascist state. As stated by Adalah attorney Fady Khoury in an interview with +972,
“Apartheid in South Africa was a process. It was a system that took years to develop and was built on the work of academics and theologians who had to create justifications for white supremacy. It was a system of hierarchy, in which there is one group with all the power and another without any power.”

First Phase Digital

Apartheid in the Republic of South Africa. A beach for Whites only near the integrated fishing village of Kalk Bay, not far from Capetown. January 1, 1970. (UN Photo/KM)

There appears to be little that liberal Israeli citizens can do to halt this process. It would seem that liberal Zionism has been crushed by the combination of the right wing in Israel and the policy of the Trump administration, as pointed out by Michelle Goldberg in the NYTimes several months ago. In general the difficulty that liberal Zionists, such as Prometheus and Pandora, have in reconciling their humanist beliefs with support for Israel is nothing new. Four years ago Anthony Lerman writing in the NYTimes outlined the dilemma of liberal Zionists–“They’re convinced that Israel can be both Jewish and democratic, but they fail to explain how to reconcile God’s supreme authority with the sovereign power of the people. Meanwhile, the self-appointed arbiters of what’s Jewish in the Jewish state — the extreme religious Zionists and the strictly Orthodox, aided and abetted by Jewish racists in the Knesset like Ayelet Shaked, a Jewish Home Party member and Minister of Justice, who recently called for the mothers of Palestinian “snakes” to be killed — are trashing democracy more and more each day. “

 

RANT ON UNWORTHY FRIENDS

Here in Israel we have been “honored” by visits of people who are the dregs of world politics.

Viktor Orban the Prime Minister of Hungary, who is known as one of the world’s greatest enemies of democracy, was here for a few days visiting his dear buddy, Netanyahu. Under Netanyahu’s leadership, ties with Orban have warmed, prompting criticism from the local Jewish community over the Hungarian prime minister’s attacks on Jewish billionaire George Soros, which critics say toy with anti-Semitic stereotypes. They also object to his past praise for a former Nazi ally. He has praised Horthy who ruled occupied Hungary during the war and under whose aegis over half a million Jews were deported to Auschwitz during the Holocaust.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban (L) hold a Rubik’s Cube at the Hungary-Israel Business Forum in Budapest, Hungary, on July 19, 2017. (Haim Zach/GPO/Flash90)

While Orban has vilified George Soros,the Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire, who has been promoting democracy in Hungary and Eastern Europe in general ever since the fall of the Soviet Union, Israel has lobbied the United States to “open doors” to Orban’s government. The US government  has traditionally  kept Orban at arm’s length in view of  Hungary’s  ultra-nationalist stance and the prime minister’s embracing of what he has termed an “illiberal democracy.”

Orban was received with open arms, visited Yad Vashem according to protocol, met the President, the works. All that Pandora and Prometheus, as well as their friends, can do is to blush with shame. Daniel Barenboim the great musician puts it best.  

There were some signs of   protest.

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Israeli protesters hold signs by as people block the road for the convoy of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on July 19, 2018 at the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum in Jerusalem (AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON)

In the meantime, Israel and Myanmar have signed an agreement to coordinate what is written about each country in the school textbooks of the other. In a somewhat controversial move, the agreement allows the parties to “through their competent authorities, endeavor to mutually verify school textbooks, particularly concerning the passages referring to the history of the other state and, where needed, introduce corrections to these textbooks.” A joint committee will be established to implement the agreement and will meet every three years. Noa Landau in Haaretz gives the details. We wonder what our children will learn about the genocide of the Rohingya. We are told that Israel has ceased selling weaponry to Myanmar, but the cozy relationship continues. We should all be ashamed including President Rivlin.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meeting Senior General Min Aung Hlaing during the Myanmar general’s visit in 2015. (Photo: Min Aung Hlaing's Facebook page)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin meeting Senior General Min Aung Hlaing during the Myanmar general’s visit in 2015. (Photo: Min Aung Hlaing’s Facebook page)

CRIME AGAINST CHILDREN

The Trump separation of children from their parents is beyond words. Let Mike Luckovich put it best.

GOODIES FROM SCIENCE

WATER FOUND ON MARS

tThe planet Mars

The Holy Grail of planetary science, liquid water on Mars, has been found.  The Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (MARSIS) instrument on the Mars Express spacecraft collected radar measurements over the SPLD (South Pole Layered Deposit) .The research team led by R. Orosei of Istituto di Radioastronomia, Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica in Bologna, Italy identified a distinct 20-km-wide bright reflector on multiple profiles collected over 3 years. They rule out a number of possible explanations for this bright reflector, leaving the existence of liquid water, either as a distinct water layer or as saturated sediments, as the only explanation. The finding is described in detail in news media such as BBC while the scientific paper has come out in Science.

BLOOD MARKER FOR MELANOMA

Melanoma is an aggressive form of skin cancer and early detection is of the greatest importance. A blood test marker has long been sought by researchers and it now appears to have been found. An Australian team has published in the journal Oncotarget a description of research that has found a marker in the blood that can serve as an indicator of early stage melanoma. Pandora and Prometheus are very excited about this breakthrough and hope the test finds its way into clinical use very soon.

BOOK REVIEWS

This week we look at the NYRB reviews of two books on English religious music. Prometheus and Pandora hope you find them interesting.
God’s Own Music
Ian Bostridge
February 22, 2018 Issue
O Sing unto the Lord: A History of English Church Music
by Andrew Gant
University of Chicago Press, 454 pp., $35.00
Messiah: The Composition and Afterlife of Handel’s Masterpiece
by Jonathan Keates
Basic Books, 165 pp., $25.00

Ian Bostridge gives us a very personal review of these two books. The history book by Gant provides a detailed synopsis and melds the history of English music with developments in English history. Bostridge himself was a choir boy at a church in London that had seen better days in its past, but nonetheless had a charismatic organist and choir master who inspired the boys to reach heights of song. In particular they performed and loved the great hymns of the the English Reformation and its immediate aftermath—Thomas Tallis, William Byrd, the exotically named Orlando Gibbons, John Blow, Henry Purcell—and the music that was created in an attempt to recreate that beauty of holiness: the Victorian and Edwardian anthem tradition of Hubert Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford, Herbert Howells, and many others.

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Thomas Webster: A Village Choir, 1847

 

The oratorio The Messiah by Handel is indeed worthy of a study on its own. In writing it Handel deviated from his usual style of stories of Old Testament heroes and it is devoted to the prediction of the coming of Christ. Handel was disappointed that people saw it as entertainment rather than a call to Godliness. It is customary for the audience to stand during the Hallelujah Chorus, although the source of the custom is not clear. When the piece was performed in Tel Aviv a few years ago, a few people, including your humble servant, stood, most did not.

A QUESTION ABOUT MUSIC

Classical music is one of the few domains in which women continue to  play a very minor and subservient role. Last week’s Donne – Women in Music report expressed this in stark statistics. Across Europe, 97.6% of classical and contemporary classical music performed in the last three seasons was written by men, leaving a paltry 2.3% written by women. Why is this so? In a BBC documentary that aired this summer, the question is addressed by Danielle de Niese who writes about it in the Guardian.

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‘As a soprano, where is my voice, where is the female perspective?’ … Danielle de Niese Photograph: BBC

SILLY TIME

WHAT IF?

Lake Tea

What if we were to dump all the tea in the world into the Great Lakes? How strong, compared to a regular cup of tea, would the lake tea be?

Alex Burman

The answer should be of great interest to the tea drinkers among us.

We are planning a trip abroad and have consulted the Id folks on travel:

WUMO

Here is the link.

Anyone who has traveled with children will have empathy.

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update Blog July 19-25

Our featured image above shows our beloved Miriam, a great human rights defender.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

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bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the Rainforest Alliance. Their mission: From fighting deforestation and climate change to building economic opportunities and better working conditions for rural people, the Rainforest Alliance is working to solve urgent environmental and social challenges.

The loss of a single species can have profound effects on other species, including humans. Case in point: bees, the sole pollinator for a wide variety of plants and a critical catalyst in global food production. Bees are suffering massive population losses due to the use of deadly pesticides. If bees were to become extinct, many popular foods would also disappear—among them apples, tomatoes, and almonds.

honeybee-flower

Honey bee on a flower

This charity is highly rated by Charity Watch.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

This week we focus on the Yanomami tribe of Brazil.

Mining, ranching, and health care chaos threaten Yanomami

For thousands of years, the Yanomami have thrived in the rainforests of South America.

Now, they are struggling as the government fails to protect them from criminal invasions, attacks and disease.

Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami leader and shaman surrounded by children, Demini, Brazil.

Davi Kopenawa, Yanomami leader and shaman surrounded by children, Demini, Brazil.
© Fiona Watson/Survival

Please act for them.

 

 

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to outlaw child marriage in Niger.

Three-quarters of girls in Niger are married before they are adults. Child marriage often amounts to slavery, for example, when girls have not given their free and full consent, are subjected to control, exploited and unable to leave, so outlawing it is an important step towards protecting Niger children.

URGENT ACTION CASES

CUBA

Urgent Action Victory! – Environmentalist Conditionally Released

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Prisoner of conscience and environmental activist, Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, was sentenced in Cuba to one-year imprisonment for contempt. On 3 July he was released with conditions.

Authorities released prisoner of conscience, Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, a doctor in biological sciences who previously worked as a researcher at the University of Havana, on 3 July 2018. According to documents Amnesty International was able to review, prison authorities granted Ariel a conditional release (“licencia extrapenal”) following a prolonged hunger strike.

In Cuba, people imprisoned for solely expressing their beliefs are frequently set free under “licencia extrapenal”. This form of conditional release means that those convicted are allowed to spend the remainder of their sentences outside prison. Under this condition, the authorities could arrest Ariel at any time and return him to prison to complete his sentence.

Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was sentenced to one year of imprisonment for contempt (“desacato”) for allegedly disrespecting two forest rangers. The “desacato” (article 144.1 of Cuba’s Criminal Code) provision in Cuban criminal law is inconsistent with international law. It is an undue restriction on the right to freedom of expression, as public officials should tolerate more criticism than private individuals. The use of defamation laws with the purpose or effect of inhibiting legitimate criticism of government or public officials violates the right to freedom of expression.

Amnesty International will monitor Dr. Ariel Urquiola’s situation.

Many thanks to all who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

MYANMAR

Urgent Action Update: TWO JOURNALISTS CHARGED IN MYANMAR

TOPSHOT-MYANMAR-MEDIA-RIGHTS-JUSTICE

Wa-Lone

Two journalists who have been detained for more than seven months in Myanmar have been formally charged in connection with their peaceful journalistic activities. They each face up to 14 years in prison. They must be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

BURUNDI

Urgent Action Update: HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER MARKS ONE YEAR IN PRISON

germain_rukuki.jpeg

Human rights defender and prisoner of conscience Germain Rukuki was arrested one year ago on 13 July 2017. He was sentenced to 32 years in prison on 26 April 2018. In June, he was hospitalized and underwent surgery for injuries sustained in prison. He has since been returned to prison although he requires continued treatment.

TAKE ACTION

BELARUS

Urgent Action: FATE AND WHEREABOUTS OF POLICEMAN UNKNOWN

Former Chechen policeman Artur Aydamirov, 34, disappeared on 8 June in Brest, Belarus, after learning in early 2018 that he is required to perform military service in Syria. He decided to flee Chechnya with his family. Witnesses saw unidentified men in uniform force Artur Aydamirov into a van and drive away. He has not been seen since and there are grave concerns about his fate.

TAKE ACTION

RUSSIA:

Union-busting at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology

In partnership with UNISOL and the Confederation of Labour of Russia – KTR.

The Union of the Higher Education Teaching Personnel/University Solidarity (UNISOL) has been fighting for the rights of teachers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) for several years. Under the union’s pressure, salaries have risen significantly from their former miserable level. The union blocked inordinate increases of professors’ teaching loads and has also fought the rector’s initiative to end the elections of department and faculty heads, a right provided by the Labour Code of Russia. The union needs help in its struggle to maintain democracy. Please click and help.

Prometheus and Pandora XV

Our featured image above shows a montage of the small moons of Saturn including  : Pan, Daphnis, Atlas, Prometheus, Pandora, Epimetheus, Janus, and Mimas, to scale. A true family picture of our friends.

The eight innermost moons of Saturn, in color images collected by Cassini between June 7, 2005, and July 5, 2010. Pan and Daphnis (top left small moons) orbit within the Encke and Keeler gaps in the rings; Atlas (below Pan and Daphnis) orbits at the outer edge of the main rings. To their right are Prometheus and Pandora; Prometheus orbits just inside and Pandora just outside the F ring. Below them are Epimetheus (left) and Janus (right), which trade positions every four years, averaging out to the same distance from Saturn. Mimas orbits considerably farther away, but its gravitational effects influence the positions of gaps and waves within the rings. At full resolution, the montage has a scale of 500 meters per pixel.

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.

IN MEMORIAM

PHILIP ROTH March 19, 1933-May 22, 2018

Roth at his home in Connecticut, 2005.

Roth at his home in Connecticut, 2005. Photograph: Douglas Healey/AP

The great American-Jewish novelist died this month at the age of 85. His work has been described as ‘savagely funny and bitingly honest’ which Pandora and Prometheus consider a good description. The Guardian asked 14 acclaimed writers including William Boyd, David Baddiel, Linda Grant and Joyce Carol Oates to pick their favorite work and the responses are worth reading. As Jennifer Gilmore wrote in Forward“Roth’s death, like all deaths, is the end of many things. Of towering white male novelists. Of that first wave of Jewish American immigrants who helped build literature as I know it. Of America as my Jewish grandparents knew it.”
He angered many people, such as rabbis who resented his way of presenting Jewish characters, women who disliked his misogynist way of presenting women in his novels and literary critics such as Irving Howe, whom Roth lampooned mercilessly. Howe declared ironically that Roth “now stands close to the center of our culture (if that is anything for him to be pleased about), and he is accorded serious attention both by a number of literary critics and those rabbis and Jewish communal leaders who can hardly wait to repay the animus he has lavished upon them.”
In addition to the obituaries in the NYTimes and elsewhere, many writers have written  how Roth influenced their careers. Andrew Martin writing in Vice tries to explicate Roth’s attitude towards women. He refers to Vivian Gornick who wrote a vividly argued and much quoted essay about the way that Roth’s narrators, beginning with the title character of his infamous, spectacularly successful novel Portnoy’s Complaint, transfer their rage at the powers that be on to the women they’re sleeping with, creating an “impassioned association of woman-hating with being Jewish-in-America” that outpaced even Bellow’s. These comments are certainly worth reading.

FELICIA LANGER December 9, 1930 – June 21, 2018

The lawyer who was the first to bring the Occupation and its violations of human rights and international law to the courtroom died in Germany on June 21.

felicia

Attorney Felicia Langer in 2008. UNiesert, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0)

Felicia Langer was an Israeli attorney and human rights activist known for her defense of Palestinian political prisoners in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She became a hated figure in Israel and was regarded as a traitor by many people. In 1990 she gave up the struggle since she realized that the courts and the system were using her as a fig leaf to portray the regime in a favorable light. She is eulogized by Gideon Levi in Haaretz and the +972 blog by the human rights lawyer Michael Sfard.

May she rest in peace. Many lawyers are following the path that she laid out for them with phenomenal courage and integrity.

MICHAEL S.J. BELTON September 29, 1934-June 4, 2018

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Our esteemed colleague, Mike Belton died this month at the age 84. He was the President of Belton Space Exploration Initiatives, LLC, and an Emeritus Astronomer at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Born in Bognor Regis, England, he received his Bachelor’s degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, and earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined Kitt Peak National Observatory (the precursor to NOAO) in 1964 and carried out research on nearly all objects that fell under “planetary science.” A detailed obituary has been put out by the American Astronomical Society.

We remember him from the heady days of planetary exploration with Voyager, Galileo and other spacecraft. Rest in Peace Mike.

CONGRATULATIONS TO NETTA BARZILAI

This Israel singer just won the Eurovision with her song “Toy” Cheers!

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This is the performance that won.

Here are the lyrics.

https://genius.com/Netta-barzilai-toy-lyrics

Netta says it is a #MeToo song of empowerment. Pandora and Prometheus, to say nothing of their imaginary playmates, YandA, find it mostly opaque, but that is a matter of age.

A TRUE CLOAK AND DAGGER STORY

One of the Israeli intelligence agency’s most daring missions is being turned into a movie, ‘Red Sea Diving Resort.’ One of the operatives looks back on a breathtaking operation that saved thousands of Ethiopian Jews’ lives in the 1980’s. Here is the pitch…


The story is told in the blog of Allison Kaplan Sommer who writes in Haaretz. She interviewed one of the participants in the phony beach resort in Sudan through which thousands of Ethiopian Jews were smuggled to Israel. The story is fascinating and worthy of your time. Here is the route:

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RANT ON RAQQA

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The picture speaks for itself

The city of Raqqa in Syria was subjected to a major set of attacks by the US-led coalition. The attack was supposed to drive Da’ash out of its self-declared capital. The attack killed hundreds of civilians who had no way of escaping the city. Someone must be held accountable for this massive atrocity. Please open the link, read the devastating account and sign the letter to the US Secretary of Defense demanding an accounting for the killings.
In the end, Da’ash was granted safe passage out of the town so the civilian deaths served no real military purpose.

RANT ON KIDNAPPING CHILDREN TO MAKE AMERICA GREAT

Words fail:

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PROFILE OF A WRITER

Our attention is called this month to William Trevor, whose mournful, sometimes darkly funny short stories and novels about the small struggles of unremarkable people placed him in the company of masters like V. S. Pritchett, W. Somerset Maugham and Chekhov. He died in 2016 in Somerset, England at age 88. With the republication of his final collection of short stories, “Last Stories” a renewed interest is seen in his oeuvre. The collection is reviewed this month in the Washington Post by Heller McAlpin. When he died a wave of obituaries came out including a beautiful evaluation by the great Irish writer Ann Enright. She extols him as” a tender and compassionate chronicler of small town life.”

1707trevor
Trevor, although born in Ireland, lived most of his adult life in England He described himself “I don’t really feel those divisions any more than really I feel, in literary terms, the division between Ireland and England. I feel that writers of fiction do belong in a no man’s land some place and I certainly feel I do.”

From that no-man’s land he gave us a treasure of wonderful writing. Prometheus and Pandora are grateful for the revival of his work and memory.

SOMETHING FROM SCIENCE

The question of the origin of language in homo sapiens has long proved difficult of linguists and anthropologists. A recent hypothesis  relates the development of language to the ability of our ancestors to make stone tools. Oren Kolodny, a biologist at Stanford University, puts the question in more scientific terms: “What kind of evolutionary pressures could have given rise to this really weird and surprising phenomenon that is so critical to the essence of being human?”

He and his colleagues have proposed a provocative answer. In a recent paper, Kolodny  argues that early humans—while teaching their kin how to make complex tools–hijacked the capacity for language from themselves. The hypothesis is described in detail in the Atlantic by Ben James. Kolodny and Edelman published their scientific results and ideas in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

Human origins

Homo Ergaster, an early ancestor of humans that made complex tools Kike Calvo / AP

Naturally there is considerable resistance to this idea, in particular from the doyen of linguistics Noam Chomsky, Robert Berwick and other well-known linguists. In a famous 2014 paper in PLOS Biology they conclude that the evolution of language was unrelated to tool making and happened quickly. “The language faculty is an extremely recent acquisition in our lineage,” these authors wrote, “and it was acquired not in the context of slow, gradual modification of preexisting systems under natural selection but in a single, rapid, emergent event.”
The question is a thorny one since language in its development and evolution left no fossil record. The controversy will continue and we shall try to follow it. Stay tuned.

MAYBE SOME GOOD NEWS ON THE CLIMATE FRONT

Bill Mckibben writing it in the Guardian informs us that the fossil fuel  industry is on the ropes. He quotes research “In the past several years, oil industry financial statements have revealed significant signs of strain: Profits have dropped, cash flow is down, balance sheets are deteriorating and capital spending is falling. The stock market has recognized the sector’s overall weakness, punishing oil and gas shares over the past five years even as the market as a whole has soared.” The Pope has also taken a stand against the fossil fuel industry. Cheers.

‘The basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway.’

The basic trajectory of the world away from coal and gas and oil is firmly underway.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

WuMo even find a lighter side: Lest they sue us, we just give you the  link. https://www.arcamax.com/thefunnies/wumo/s-2092525

 

BOOK REVIEWS

Ronald Welch – The Gauntlet

the-gauntlet

This is a book aimed at young boys who like history and derring do. Prometheus and Pandora recently gave a copy to a young grandson in the hope that the adventures will motivate him to overcome the barrier and to read English. We append a review by Lady Fanciful.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Novel by Michael Chabon

A “towering, swash-buckling thrill of a book” (Newsweek), hailed as Chabon’s “magnum opus” (The New York Review of Books), The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a triumph of originality, imagination, and storytelling, an exuberant, irresistible novel that begins in New York City in 1939.  The book won the Pulitzer Prize of 2000. Prometheus and Pandora loved it. See the reviews in the NYTimes and the Guardian.

CHEERS FOR THE WORLD CUP

Gideon Levy writing in Haaretz extols the world of sports and the world wide festival of the World Cup of soccer. He has a point although there is some argument over Senegal’s ejection over yellow cards, possibly a result of referee racial bias. We also deplore the sexual harassment of female journalists.

SILLY TIME

WhatIf is interesting indeed–a five year old kid can think of things.

Earth-Moon Fire Pole

My son (5y) asked me today: If there were a kind of a fireman’s pole from the Moon down to the Earth, how long would it take to slide all the way from the Moon to the Earth?

Ramon Schönborn, Germany

The answer is interesting.

ON MORALITY

AI TELLS THE TRUTH

Zack cuts close to the bone here:

 

 

Fish beaks? Zack needs some basic biology lessons…

 

Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update June 21-27

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, 1947-2012, a great human rights defender.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the the ongoing world wide struggle to defend freedom of the press and access to information. We refer you to Reporters without Borders who carry on this most important effort. Their barometer of press freedom violations tells a frightening story. We should all support them for they are fighting for us. When the information channels are closed, it will be too late.

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

This week we call your attention to the plight of the Bushmen people.

Bushman woman Xoroxloo Duxee from the Metsiamenong community, died of dehydration and starvation in 2005 after the government blockaded the reserve and armed guards prevented her people from hunting, gathering or obtaining water, Botswana.

Bushman woman Xoroxloo Duxee from the Metsiamenong community, died of dehydration and starvation in 2005 after the government blockaded the reserve and armed guards prevented her people from hunting, gathering or obtaining water, Botswana.
© Survival International

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United         and raise your voice to call for justice for the antislavery activists in Mauritania.

Justice for Abdellahi and Moussa

URGENT ACTION CASES

TURKEY

Urgent Action Victory! – Turkish Court Acquits Rapper

Image result for Ezhel

On 19 June, an Istanbul court ordered the immediate release of rapper, Ezhel, after acquitting him of ‘publicly promoting the use of drugs’ on the basis of insufficient evidence of intent to engage in any unlawful behaviour.

Sercan İpekcioğlu, better known by his stage name Ezhel, was detained by police on 23 May after a second round of questioning over drug promotion allegations. Ezhel was remanded in prison on the same day and was being held in Maltepe Prison, in Istanbul. The court decision to remand Ezhel in prison contained no material evidence that he had actively promoted the use of drugs. On 19 June, an Istanbul court acquitted Ezhel of ‘promoting drugs’ and ordered his immediate release. The rapper was acquitted with the judge ruling that there was insufficient evidence that Ezhel had intentionally engaged in any unlawful activity.

Ezhel’s arrest and detention prompted supporters to launch a viral social media campaign, with thousands of users calling for his release using the hashtag #FreeEzhel, making this one of the top trending hashtags on Twitter in Turkey. The rapper’s acquittal represents a significantly positive development in a country where freedom of expression has been under increasing attack since the ongoing state of emergency, in place since July 2016.

Ezhel is a prominent figure on the Turkish rap scene and is known for his dark depictions of street life in urban Turkey. He was questioned over two songs which refer to the use of cannabis and a now deleted social media post displaying a photograph of the rapper holding a cannabis leaf.

Following the trial, Ezhel thanked Amnesty International and its supporters for playing a leading role in the campaign for his acquittal: “Together we stand. Thank you for your solidarity and efforts.”

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

MALDIVES

Urgent Action: HEALTH FEARS FOR DETAINEE WITHOUT ACCESS TO LAWYER

Image result for Lahiru Manikkuadura
Lahiru Manikkuadura, a Sri Lankan citizen, has been detained in the Maldives without a trial date since September 2016 and, following recent and restrictive changes in legal procedures, is being denied any access to his lawyer. Deplorable prison conditions have further raised serious concerns for his health and well-being.

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CHINA

Urgent Action: GRAVE FEARS FOR MISSING UIGHUR PHD STUDENT

Guligeina-Tashimaimaiti-1

Guligeina Tashimaimaiti has not been heard from since 26 December 2017, when she returned from Malaysia to her hometown in Yili, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. Her family fear that she has been detained at a re-education camp and is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

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MEXICO

Urgent Action: Disappearances Insufficiently Investigated

Image result for disappearance nuevo laredo

From February to May 2018 at least 33 people were reported disappeared in Nuevo Laredo, northern Mexico. Authorities have been losing crucial time to investigate and family members are being left without adequate protection.

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ALGERIA

alde10

Urgent Action: Blogger Convicted with 10 Year Prison Sentence

Following more than 16 months in pre-trial detention, Algerian blogger Merzoug Touati was convicted to 10 years prison terms for some peaceful online posts including an interview with an Israeli official.. The Court of Appeal in Bejaya will review its conviction on 21 June. He is a prisoner of conscience.

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AUSTRALIA

Exxon Mobil – time for a fair deal for your workers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last year maintenance workers at Exxon Mobil’s onshore and offshore facilities received a shock when they heard that their employer, maintenance contractor UGL, was firing the whole workforce. Please join the protest

MANY COUNTRIES

Coca-Cola is becoming a serial human rights offender – in Haiti, Indonesia, Ireland, the Philippines and the United States. Please click to support these workers.

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update June 14-20

Our featured image shows Miriam, our beloved human rights defender

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

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Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

 

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the Books for Africa charity. Their mission:

A simple name for an organization with a simple mission. We collect, sort, ship, and distribute books to students of all ages in Africa.

Our goal: to end the book famine in Africa.

Books For Africa remains the largest shipper of donated text and library books to the African continent, shipping over 41 million books to 53 different countries since 1988.  Over the past 12 months we have shipped three million books, 93 computers and e-readers containing 223,000 digital books, as well as 10 new law and human rights libraries to 18 African countries. More than $2.5 million was raised last year to ship the books to the students of Africa.

This charity is highly rated by Charity Navigator.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

This week we ask for your help in maintaining the role of tribal people in conservation.

https://s3.amazonaws.com/assets-production.survivalinternational.org/pictures/10654/tribal-conservationists-banner_original.jpg

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to close the Libyan slave markets.

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action: CALL ON OHIO GOVERNOR TO STOP EXECUTION

Robert Van Hook is due to be executed in Ohio on 18 July. He has been on death row for 33 years for a murder committed in 1985. The parole board has voted against clemency. The governor is not bound by their recommendation and can stop this execution.

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MOLDOVA

Urgent Action: GRAVE HEALTH CONCERNS FOR DETAINEE WITH CIRRHOSIS

 

Moldovan businessman Serghei Cosovan is unable to access essential health care in pre-trial detention for his acute cirrhosis. The authorities are ignoring medical grounds to support treatment in an external specialised hospital and have recently remanded him to 30 more days in pre-trial detention. Serghei Cosovan’s health is rapidly deteriorating and there are serious risks to his life.

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CUBA

Urgent Action: ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST IMPRISONED

Dr. Ariel Ruiz Urquiola, an environmental activist, was sentenced in Cuba to one-year imprisonment for contempt. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released unconditionally and immediately.

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COLOMBIA

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Urgent Action: Indigenous People Threatened And Displaced

More than 200 indigenous Nasa Embera Chamí from La Delfina reservation in Buenaventura (West), Colombia, are currently displaced following an armed attack to a member of their community on 8 June. They are in need of decisive security measures to protect them and access to humanitarian aid such as food, health services and shelter.

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USA/EUROPE

XPO: Time to talk about your behavior

XPO Logistics, one of the largest global logistics companies, is under increased scrutiny for its anti-worker, anti-union behaviour in Europe and the United States. XPO Logistics and XPO Europe’s toxic corporate culture are pervasive. Please join the protest.

KOREA

Oracle workers on strike

Workers at IT software giant Oracle have been on strike since May 16 after negotiations for a first collective bargaining agreement with the company broke down. Call on Oracle Korea management to immediately engage in good faith negotiations with the Oracle Korea Workers Union and to end the exploitation of the workers who make the company so successful. Please join the call.

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 24-30

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012) a dear friend and a great human rights defender

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

 

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the Fistula Foundation. Fistula is a childbirth injury largely eradicated in the developed world, but still devastating women in the poorest countries. It leaves the woman incontinent with catastrophic results for her family and social life.
It’s treatable with life-transforming surgery.

This charity is highly rated by Charity Watch.

 

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

The Kawahiva

In the Brazilian Amazon, a tiny group of uncontacted Indians teeters on the brink of extinction. Survival’s global campaign is pushing Brazil’s government to protect their land – the only way they can survive. Please open the link to see the video about them.

The tribe is forced to live on the run, fleeing violence from outsiders. Attacks and disease have killed their relatives.

The loggers are getting closer.

These are the Last of the Kawahiva. And their genocide will be complete unless their land is protected.

You can help us secure it for them: Together, we can give the Kawahiva a future.

 

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and lend your voice to the call to ensure freedom and safety for girls.

Pledge to join the fight for Freedom For Girls

This is a video for girls day, which comes in October. Relevant every day.

 

 

URGENT ACTION CASES

COLOMBIA

Urgent Action Update: Attack Causes Forced Displacement

https://www.aljazeera.com/mritems/Images/2018/3/10/904e0efb64d64dbaa3639f35a2b8b137_18.jpg

An elder Yukpa woman is braiding a basket that are sold to help support the community [Bram Ebus/Al Jazeera]

The binational Indigenous Yukpa people living in Cúcuta, in the east of Colombia, suffered an armed attack on 17 May followed by their forced displacement.

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MEXICO

Urgent Action: Indigenous Defender Killed, Others at Risk

Manuel-Gaspar-puebla-activista1
Indigenous environmental rights defender Manuel Gaspar Rodríguez was found dead on 14 May in Cuetzalan, Puebla state. He was one of a number of defenders facing criminal investigation for their opposition to the construction of a high-voltage power line. These defenders are at grave risk and have recently been subject to attacks and intimidation.

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NIGERIA

Urgent Action: Displaced Women, Children Denied Right to Food

Displaced-North-east-Women-Protest

A group of approximately 230 internally displaced women (known as the Knifar movement) and their children risk starvation as authorities have stopped supplying food to the IDP camp they have been living in since 2017. Food was last delivered to the camp on 18 April and it did not even last one week. There has been no communication from camp authorities on why the supply stopped. Women and their children have been left with no alternative means of getting food.

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ECUADOR

Oil giant Chevron dumped billions of gallons of deadly chemicals in the Ecuadorian Amazon, leaving behind rivers full of toxic waste, decimating wildlife and spreading cancer and death in indigenous communities.

They’ve never cleaned it up! But Chevron’s impunity could finally end if we persuade just one man to do the right thing.

Chevron’s top stockholder is a US retirement fund whose chair has challenged corporate abuse before, and his customers are part of this community! If we flood him with support in the next 24 hours he could tip a historic vote — at Chevron’s shareholder meeting tomorrow. Add your name now!

RUSSIA/SYRIA

Sign the petition to all World Cup 2018 leaders and teams:

“As citizens from around the world, we urge you not to attend Russia’s World Cup unless it stops dropping bombs on children in Syria. No country, team or player should condone these crimes against humanity by lauding the Russian regime at the games. We call on you to make sure sport is used for peace, not to sponsor war.”

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update May 4-16

Our featured image shows Miriam, (1947-2012) our great human rights defender.

Holiday greetings and good wishes for

  • Shavuot Jews
  • Ramadan Muslims
  • Pentecost Christians
220px-holbein-erasmus1

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans Holbein the Younger. The Greek and Latin words on the book translate to “The Herculean Labors of Erasmus of Rotterdam”.

HE WHO PERMITS OPPRESSION PERMITS CRIMES.-Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

bobmarleysomepeoplefeeltherainquote

 

CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to the work of the Mercy Corps who are active worldwide. We focus on their work in Venezuela which is rapidly becoming a failed state. The humanitarian crisis there is such that a newborn in Syria has a better chance of survival than a newborn in Venezuela. Please click and donate.

Once people had good jobs, now they struggle to survive from day to day

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE

Indigenous tribes do not simply die out. They are killed by the actions of so-called civilized nations. Survival International provides a long list of cases in which a letter from you can and will make a difference. Please open this link and write at least one letter. This link will be a permanent feature on our blog and we would be grateful if you gave it a bit of attention each week. We suggest going down the list in the order given. The letters are pre-written for you. All you need to do is send them. It would be nice also if a donation to Survival International could be forthcoming. They are the best conservationists--help that fact go viral.

A major calamity for indigenous people is racism. This week we focus our attention on the so-called Pygmies of Central Africa and their abuse.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

We have added this section to the blog in order to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. This week we refer you to the the ILO’s Protocol on Forced Labor which is all about modern slavery. We call your attention to the anti slavery campaign. There you can sign up for action updates.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview
You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

logo_rfa
utz_certified

 

 

 

 

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and join over 2,000,000 people who’ve taken action to fight against modern slavery. You can make a difference under 30 seconds.

URGENT ACTION CASES

SOUTH KOREA

Urgent Action Victory! – Activist’s Not-Guilty Verdict Upheld on Appeal

Lee Jin-young, operator of the online library ‘Labour Books’, was found not guilty of charges under the National Security Law at the Seoul High Court on 11 April 2018. This verdict was made following an appeal by the prosecution to a ruling on 20 July 2017 which found Lee Jin-young not guilty.

Lee Jin-young, labour activist and owner of the online library ‘Labour Books’, was arrested and detained on 5 January 2017, and officially charged on 3 February, for violating Article 7 of the National Security Law (NSL) after distributing materials that allegedly benefit “anti-government organizations”. Held in detention since his arrest, including periods of solitary confinement, he was finally released on 20 July 2017 after the Seoul Southern District Court ruled that he was not guilty.

Following an appeal to the verdict by the prosecution, a second trial was held at the Seoul High Court and the ruling of not-guilty was upheld on 11 April 2018. While the prosecution can appeal one more time, the risk of the ruling being overturned is considered to be small, and the likelihood that Lee Jin-young may again be detained for exercising his right to freedom of expression is rather low.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

Israel/OPT

Urgent Action Victory! – Israeli Government Stops Forced Deportations

The Israeli government has declared that it will not pursue forcible deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers to third countries under the Israeli ‘Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries’. This follows the release of 280 asylum-seekers who had been detained as a result of the policy, after an order by the High Court of Justice.

Israeli authorities have now declared that they will not forcibly deport Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers from Israel to an African “third country”. They will no longer be issuing deportation notices and conducting deportation hearings. However, the government has declared that Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers, considered by Israel to be “infiltrators”, will still be encouraged to “voluntarily” leave Israel.

The Israeli authorities should ensure that Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers are provided with documentation allowing them to live and work regularly in Israel and protecting them from unlawful detention and deportation. The authorities should under no circumstance pressure African asylum-seekers to “voluntarily” leave Israel when the time comes to renew their visas, in accordance with their international obligations not to transfer anyone to a country where they would be at risk of serious human rights violations, or where they would not be protected against such transfer.

From 4 February 2018, 280 Eritrean and Sudanese asylum-seekers who were already held in Holot detention centre, located in the Negev/Naqab desert, were issued deportation notices under Israel’s new ‘Procedure for Deportation to Third Countries’. Having refused to leave Israel, they were then detained in the Saharonim prison while awaiting deportation. All the 280 asylum-seekers were released between 2 and 15 April 2018, as ordered by the High Court of Justice, in the context of a case on the legality of Israel’s deportations to unspecified “third countries” in Africa, widely believed to be Uganda and Rwanda. The High Court ordered the government to stop the deportations after it failed to provide additional information on the deportation agreements. However, the 280 asylum-seekers were only granted one-month visas, which forbid them from working and living in the seven largest cities in Israel.

Those released included “Tesfai” (not his real name), a 29-year-old Eritrean asylum-seeker who had his asylum claim rejected without explanation. He was arrested in November 2017 for not having a valid visa. After 100 days in detention, he was told to leave Israel to go to Rwanda. When he refused, he was detained under the new policy introduced by the Israeli Population, Immigration and Border Authority (PIBA) for not cooperating with his removal.

Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Poet Under Illegal House Arrest ‘Prepared to Die’

Liu Xia, widow of late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, kept crying during a recent recorded telephone conversation and said that she is prepared to die. Diagnosed as clinically depressed, Liu Xia’s well-being is the subject of serious concern after repeated empty promises by the Chinese authorities to allow her to leave China.

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RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action: Peaceful Protester in Pre-Trial Detention

Image result for Mikhail Tsakunov

On 7 May, Dzerzhinsky District Court in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, remanded Mikhail Tsakunov in pre-trial detention until 4 July for alleged use of violence against a police officer. If found guilty, Mikhail Tsakunov could face 10 years in prison. However, the charges against him contravene publicly available video footage.

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COLOMBIA

Urgent Action Update: Yet Another Environmental Defender Killed

Image result for Hugo Albeiro George Pérez and Luis Alberto Torres Montoya

In less than a week, two members of the Ríos Vivos (Living Rivers) Movement have been killed in Antioquia, Colombia. The lives of other Ríos Vivos members are at risk as they continue demonstrating against the Hidroituango hydroelectric project.

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SUDAN

Urgent Action 19-year-old Noura sentenced to death for killing her rapist.

Demand justice for Noura >

Noura Hussein had already endured rape by the man she was forced to marry. Her husband and rapist, Hammad, got his two brothers and a male cousin to pin her down while he did it. When he tried to rape her again, she used a kitchen knife to protect herself. In the ensuing struggle, Hammad sustained fatal knife wounds. Now, at just 19 years old, Noura has been charged with murder and sentenced to death. We can’t allow this injustice to happen – please help and send an urgent email now to try and get justice for Noura.

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EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Urgent Action: Human Rights Activist Unable to Leave Country

Ramón Esono Ebalé, a cartoonist and human rights activist who spent almost five months in prison after being falsely accused of counterfeiting money, remains unable to leave Equatorial Guinea due to authorities failing to provide him with a passport.

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