Category Archives: Arkeeblog

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update April 19-25 2018

Our featured image above shows Miriam (1947-2012) a great 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 Helen Keller International Foundation-mission statement:

“Our mission is to save and improve the sight and lives of the world’s vulnerable.”

This charity is highly rated by Charity Navigator and by GiveWell..

GirlTryingonFrames_0

Girl trying on frames

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 photos reveal a thriving, healthy community with baskets full of manioc and papaya fresh from their gardens.

When left alone they thrive

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 watch some videos with the stories of victims and survivors. They will tell you what they want you to do.

URGENT ACTION CASES

ISRAEL/OPT

Urgent Action Victory! – Gazan’s Second Leg Saved From Being Amputated

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On 16 April, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that 20-year-old journalist Yousef al-Kronz, who was seriously wounded by Israeli forces on 30 March during Land Day protests in the Gaza Strip, must be permitted to leave Gaza for urgent medical care in Ramallah to save his remaining leg.

On 16 April, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that 20-year-old journalist Yousef al-Kronz, who was seriously wounded by Israeli forces on 30 March during Land Day protests in the Gaza Strip and has already lost one leg to amputation, must be permitted to leave Gaza for urgent medical care in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to save his remaining leg. Three Israeli judges ruled unanimously in his favor, accepting a petition filed by human rights groups Adalah and Al Mezan Center For Human Rights on 8 April 2018. Yousef al-Kronz was transferred to the Arab Istishari Hospital in Ramallah on 16 April and will undergo surgery on Sunday 22 April.

On 1 April, Adalah and Al Mezan had submitted a request to exit Gaza on behalf of Yousef al-Kronz to the Israeli military Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), a unit of the Israeli ministry of defence. After three days without response, the two human rights organizations sent a follow-up letter to COGAT on 4 April. COGAT responded on 5 April, with a rejection of the request, apparently because it believed that Yousef al-Kronz had participated in mass protests on 30 March. On 8 April, the two organizations filed a petition to the Israeli Supreme Court demanding that Israel allow Yousef al-Kronz to leave the Gaza Strip to travel to Ramallah, where his legs could possibly be saved. Despite the urgency of the request, the court decided not to hold an immediate session and gave the government three days to respond. Due to the delay, the condition of one of Yousef al-Kronz’s legs deteriorated to the extent that it had to be amputated at a hospital in Gaza, while his other leg has remained at risk of needing to be amputated without immediate medical treatment.

Yousef al-Kronz is a media and journalism student at al-Azhar University in Gaza City and works with the Palestinian Media Association. He told Amnesty International that he was covering the Land Day protests, east of al-Borej refugee camp, when he was shot in both his legs on 30 March near the Israel-Gaza fence.

Yousef al-Kronz spoke to Amnesty International on 17 April to thank all those who took action on his behalf: “I thank you all so much for your support that helped save my second leg from being amputated. I almost lost hope that I would be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah and my leg would be saved, but thank God there are people out there who care about me and did everything necessary to make sure that I received the adequate medical treatment outside of Gaza.”

He said, “I only represent one case of an injured person from Gaza. There are still many injured and sick people in Gaza who are in need of urgent medical care. I was lucky to leave, but others are still struggling to get to hospitals that would save their lives. I call on all people of conscience to not stay silent to what’s happening in Gaza.’’ He added, ‘’This is not my suffering, my suffering is the sufferance of all Gazans who lack basic human rights to live in dignity.’’

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

MYANMAR

Urgent Action Victory! – Kachin Pastors Released in Prisoner Amnesty

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Kachin pastors Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng have been released from prison following a Presidential amnesty on 17 April 2018. The two men had been detained since December 2016 in connection with their role organizing a visit by journalists to Monekoe town, northern Shan State, to show the destruction allegedly caused by Myanmar Army airstrikes.

Kachin pastors Dumdaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng were released from Lashio prison in Myanmar’s Shan State on 17 April 2018. They were unconditionally released as part of a Presidential amnesty of 8,490 prisoners, including prisoners of conscience and arbitrarily detained individuals.

The two men were detained in December 2016 and held for a month in military custody without any charge and no access to their lawyers and family. They were detained shortly after they helped organize a visit by journalists to the site of an alleged military airstrike in late November 2016. They were charged under Article 17(1) of Myanmar’s 1908 Unlawful Association Act and 2012 Import and Export Law. Amnesty International believes that these charges were politically motivated and linked to their role in reporting alleged human rights abuses by the Myanmar military.

On 27 October 2017, they were each found guilty and sentenced to two years and three months in prison. Dumdaw Nawng Lat was sentenced to an additional two years in prison for “defamation” under Section 500 of Myanmar’s Penal Code in connection with a newspaper interview where he discussed the alleged airstrikes.

While Amnesty International welcomes the release of Dundaw Nawng Lat and Langjaw Gam Seng, the fact remains that they should never have been arrested and imprisoned in the first place.

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

MYANMAR

Urgent Action Victory! – Kachin Prisoner of Conscience Freed

Lahpai-Gam-Resized

Kachin prisoner of conscience Lahpai Gam has been released from prison following a Presidential amnesty on 17 April 2018. Detained since June 2012, he was tortured during interrogation and falsely accused of being a member of an “unlawful” association. Lahpai Gam suffers from ill-health, which further deteriorated while he was in detention.

Lahpai Gam was unconditionally released from Myitkyina prison in Myanmar’s Kachin State on 17 April 2018 as part of a Presidential amnesty which saw the release of 8,490 prisoners, including prisoners of conscience and arbitrarily detained individuals.

Lahpai Gam was arrested in June 2012 in Kachin State in northern Myanmar. He was held incommunicado for almost a month before being transferred to Myitkyina prison, and was tortured by the military during interrogation. Falsely accused of being a member of the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), an ethnic armed group in Myanmar, and of involvement in the bombing of a bridge in Kachin State, he was sentenced to a total of twenty years’ imprisonment. However, due to insufficient evidence, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions under the Unlawful Association Act and two of the four counts under the Explosive Substances Act. The two remaining charges were upheld based on a confession letter dated from the time he was tortured and held incommunicado.

Throughout his incarceration, Lahpai Gam maintained his innocence, and Amnesty International believes the case against him was politically motivated. In November 2013, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD) declared Lahpai Gam’s arrest and detention to be arbitrary on the grounds that it restricted his rights to freedom of movement and residence, to freedom of thought and conscience, to freedom of expression and opinion, and violated the principle of non-discrimination.

While Amnesty International welcomes the release of Lahpai Gam, the fact remains that he should never have been arrested and imprisoned in the first place.

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

INDIA

Urgent Action: Human Rights Defender Threatened at Her Home

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Pavitri Manjhi has faced continued threats, harassment and intimidation in relation to her peaceful activism. Visited at her home by two men every evening from 3 to 5 April 2018, she has been told to withdraw all formal complaints filed by Adivasi villagers against two private companies who allegedly defrauded members of the community of their land.

TAKE ACTION

CHILE

Urgent Action: Indigenous Leader on Hunger Strike Hospitalized

CORDOVA

The health and life of Mapuche Indigenous spiritual leader Machi Celestino Córdova, imprisoned since 2014 in Temuco, central Chile, is at risk after having spent more than 90 days on hunger strike, which he started in protest after the authorities denied him access to his ceremonial altar or rewe.

TAKE ACTION

KAZAKHSTAN

Urgent Action Update: Prisoner of Conscience Released on Bail

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On 13 April, prisoner of conscience, Akmaral Tobylova was released on bail. She had been under house arrest since 13 March, and is charged with financing an extremist organization merely for browsing an opposition party website.

TAKE ACTION

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action update March 22-28

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 Concern Worldwide, which is a global humanitarian organization focused on the world’s most vulnerable. Their mission statement:

Concern Worldwide USA is a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working towards the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty in the world’s poorest countries. Since its foundation in 1968, Concern Worldwide – through its work in emergencies and long-term development – has saved countless lives, relieved suffering and provided opportunities for a better standard of living for millions of people. We work primarily in the countries ranked in the bottom 40 of the United Nations Human Development Report. Concern implements emergency response programs as well as long-term development programs in the areas of livelihoods, health, HIV & AIDS, and education.

They have a particular interest in gender inequality.  

The 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 point you at the uncontacted frontier.

Straddling the borders of Peru, Brazil and Bolivia is the Uncontacted Frontier – home to more uncontacted tribes than anywhere else on the planet.

Where their land is intact, they are thriving.

But elsewhere, oil exploration, loggers, drug-traffickers and roads are putting their lives on the line.

Survival is calling on the three governments to uphold the law and prevent their destruction.

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 the campaign to have all Commonwealth nations abolish slavery.

URGENT ACTION CASES

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action Victory! Activist Released and Given Deportation Reprieve

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On 15 February, Ali Feruz was released and arrived in Germany a few hours later. The release came after the Supreme Court’s decision on 25 January to uphold the activist’s appeal and overturn the 2017 decision to deport him to Uzbekistan. Ali Feruz had been detained since August 2017 for supposedly violating the terms of his stay in Russia.
On the morning of 15 February, Novaya Gazeta journalist and Amnesty International activist, Ali Feruz (born Khudoberdi Nurmatov) was taken to Sheremetyevo airport, in Moscow, under police escort, where he boarded a plane at 11:20am to Frankfurt, Germany. On 20 February, it was reported that he received a refugee status.

On 22 January, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation rescinded an earlier decision to extradite Ali Feruz to Uzbekistan and two days later, upheld the activist’s appeal, overturning the 2017 decision by a lower court to deport him to Uzbekistan. In its decision, the Supreme Court noted that the detention of a foreign national pending expulsion from Russia “should not be understood as grounds for detaining them for an indefinite period”. The Court sent the case back for consideration to the Moscow City Court. On 2 February, the Moscow City Court granted Ali Feruz permission to leave Russia for a third country, taking into consideration the fact that he had had a travel document from the International Committee of the Red Cross and a German visa allowing travel to Germany.

Ali Feruz told Amnesty International on 6 March that he is still adapting to life in Germany. His plans are to continue his work of activism and journalism. He says he does not plan to take a long break, as he hopes to be useful in a rapidly changing world. He holds that Amnesty International’s campaign, with others, played a crucial role in his release and is grateful for the support.

Ali Feruz was arrested and detained in Moscow in August 2017, for supposedly violating the terms of stay on the territory of the Russian Federation. On 21 November 2017, the Basmannyi Court of Moscow found him guilty, and ruled that he should be deported back to his home country. Ali Feruz fled Uzbekistan in 2009 after allegedly being detained and tortured by the Uzbek security services, who attempted to make him their secret informant.

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

 

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Human Rights Lawyer Detained Incommunicado

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Beijing lawyer Yu Wensheng has been detained for more than two months without access to a lawyer of his choice. While the Public Security Bureau in Jiangsu province have admitted that they are holding him, his exact whereabouts are unknown. He is at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

USA

Urgent Action: US Must Not Deport Gay Asylum Seeker to Ghana

immigration

Sadat I. fled homophobic attacks from a criminal group in Ghana and has been held in US immigration detention since requesting asylum there in January 2016. US authorities are seeking to forcibly return Sadat to Ghana, where he faces human rights violations by police and the groups he fled. Sadat must immediately be released on parole pending the resolution of his asylum claim, and under no circumstances be deported to Ghana.

TAKE ACTION

ETHIOPIA

Urgent Action: Two Men Held for Criticizing the Government

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Seyoum Teshome and Taye Dendea were both arrested from their homes in March for publicly criticizing the Ethiopian government during the State of Emergency.

TAKE ACTION

KAZAKHSTAN

Urgent Action: Woman Detained for Reading Opposition Website

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Since 13 March, the police have threatened bloggers, activists and members of the public across Kazakhstan with prosecution for supporting the opposition political party, Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, on social media. Akmaral Tobylova, is currently under house arrest, accused of financing an extremist organization charges, merely for browsing the party’s website. She is a prisoner of conscience.

TAKE ACTION

 

Prometheus and Pandora XIII

This month we (the Jews among us)  are preparing for the Pesach holiday which commemorates the liberation of the ancient Hebrews from bondage in Egypt during Pharaonic times. The featured image above shows us the Seder plate with the items used during the Seder.

Pesach is observed by avoiding leaven, and highlighted by the Seder meal that includeד four cups of wine, eating matzah and bitter herbs, and retelling the story of the Exodus.

“Matzah is one of those wonderful transcendent ritual items in Judaism, a symbol embodying a duality to teach a moral lesson. At the beginning of the seder, we break one of the sheets of matzah and call it the bread (lekhem) of affliction (oni). It is the meager sustenance of slaves, the meanest fare of the poor, the quickly produced food of those who make a hurried, under-cover-of-dark getaway. Yet later, it represents freedom, the bread we ate when we were liberated from Egyptian bondage.”–quote from Leslie K. Rossץ

We are told that God inflicted ten plagues upon the Egyptian people, culminating in the killing of the first born, which broke Pharaoh’s spirit and caused him to drive the Israelites from his land.

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Later, Pharaoh regretted his decision, chased them into the Red Sea where God caused our people to  cross on dry land and then brought the waters back to drown the Egyptians.  The Talmud tells us that when the angels joined in the hymn of rejoicing (Exodus XV,1-22), God reprimanded them saying “beings I created are drowning in the sea and you sing?” The angels pointed out that humans were singing and He responded that humans are capable of mixed feelings of joy and sadness whereas angels have only pure feelings. We mark the mourning for the drowned Egyptians by shortening our hymn of praise on the seventh day of the holiday.

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In Hebrew the festival is known as Pesach (which means “to pass over”), because God passed over the Jewish homes when killing the Egyptian firstborn on the very first Passover eve. This year the holiday runs from March 31 to April 7. It is constrained by the Torah to always fall on the first full moon after the vernal equinox. We have discussed the equinox in previous blogs, now we just show a picture of what it means.

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Photo from space

 

Prometheus and Pandora together with their imaginary friends YandA wish all their Jewish readers a very Happy Pesach.  They also wish their Christian friends a Happy Easter, which  takes place from Good Friday on March 30 until Easter Monday on April 2.

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 Steven Hawking 1942-2018

Stephen W. Hawking, the Cambridge University physicist and best-selling author who roamed the cosmos from a wheelchair, pondering the nature of gravity and the origin of the universe and becoming an emblem of human determination and curiosity, died on March 14 at his home in Cambridge, England. He was 76.

He was crippled by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) but was able to overcome the difficulties of such a life. He was diagnosed at age 21 and lived with the disease for 55 years. He made great contributions to cosmology and the understanding of black holes and their role in the universe. Hawking’s popular book A Brief History of Time was a long time best seller.

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For scientists, we recommend the biography by a former collaborator Roger Penrose, himself an outstanding scientist. More accessible obituaries can be found in the NYTimes and in the Guardian. His ashes will be interred in Westminster Abbey near the graves of  Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

RANTING ABOUT THE DEATH OF DEMOCRACY

It is both saddening and maddening to see democracy being wiped out in so many countries. Prometheus and Pandora find it frustrating that in far too many instances it is done with the compliance of the people or their total ignorance of the implications of what is happening around them. This is nothing new–over 2000 years ago the Roman philosopher Cicero is supposed to have reacted to Julius Caesar’s destruction of the republic “Do not blame Caesar, blame the people of Rome who have so enthusiastically acclaimed and adored him and rejoiced in their loss of freedom and danced in his path and gave him triumphal processions. Blame the people who hail him when he speaks in the Forum of the ‘new, wonderful good society’ which shall now be Rome, interpreted to mean ‘more money, more ease, more security, more living fatly at the expense of the industrious.”  (The attribution is historically doubtful but he might have said it and it is indeed true.)

Back to our time–Donald Trump poses a dangerous threat to American democracy — but many people do not know how extraordinary this  threat is, in concert with troubling trends in the USA and the world. In just his first year in office, Trump has undermined election results,  cozied up to dictators, threatened to jail his political opponents, maliciously lied to manipulate the media and the masses, and attacked judges and even his own Justice Department for refusing to stop investigations into his actions. and that is just scratching the surface. In their award-winning and New York Times best-selling book, “How Democracies Die”, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt provide illuminating and alarming context for the current predicament of people who care about democracy. In this riveting new book, Levitsky and Ziblatt conduct an insightful investigation into how other democracies have failed and broken down and what the average person can do to fight back. The Washington Post summed up the book perfectly:

“Cool and persuasive… ‘How Democracies Die’ comes at exactly the right moment.”

True manipulation a la Lukovich

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OUR BOOK REVIEWS

NEVER LET ME GO

By Kazuo Ishiguro. 288 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $24.

We have just read this 2005 novel by the Nobel Laureate Kazuo Ishiguro. It is heavily dystopian. As Sarah Kerr says in her review in the NYTimes “There is no way around revealing the premise of Kazuo Ishiguro’s new novel. It is brutal, especially for a writer celebrated as a poet of the unspoken. But it takes a while for us to get a handle on it. Since it’s the nature of Ishiguro narrators to postpone a full reckoning of their place in the world, all we know in the early going is that we don’t quite know what’s going on.”
It is a strange read, but worth the effort. In general, Ishiguro is stingy of early detail (vid. Remains of the Day) and we have to live with that as we read. Kazuo Ishiguro fascinates M. John Harrison, who reviews in the Guardian, with his  subtle take on mortality and hopelessness, in Never Let Me Go. Revealing more would be spoiling–in fact, Pandora and Prometheus think that the reviewers reveal too much and it is best to go along with Kathy the narrator, who knows what is going on, but mostly tells us of  her innocent childhood and adolescence.

In honor of Women’s Day on March 20, the NYTimes has compiled a set of reviews of books about women and  their struggles. Three, of particular interest to Pandora and Prometheus, are about the invisible women of science,

A LAB OF ONE’S OWN
Science and Suffrage in the First World War
By Patricia Fara
334 pp. Oxford University Press. $24.95.

BROAD BAND
The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet
By Claire L. Evans
278 pp. Portfolio/Penguin. $27.

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars
Sobel, Dava, reviewed in the Guardian by Nicola Davis.

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British women in the 1920s using chemical processes to test batches of milk from cows. Credit Topical Press Agency/Getty Images

The first two are reviewed in the NYTimes by Dava Sobel. The “Lab” is a title salute to A Room of One’s Own, a 1929 feminist polemic essay by Virginia Woolf. To some  of us it brought up a memory  of A League of Their Own, a 1992 film about the professional all-female baseball league that played during WWII. The league was real, the film about it is fiction, but good. Since Patricia Fara is English, her reference must be to the Woolf essay. Dava Sobol herself, the author of Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, has published her own history of female astronomers, The Glass Universe, that explores these women’s lives and work, revealing their grit, tenacity and brilliance in classifying the stars. “Even before they won the right to vote, several of them made contributions of such significance that their names gained honored places in the history of astronomy,” writes Sobel.

NEWS FROM SCIENCE

ARCHAEOLOGY UNDER THE JAIL

Excavations under the Megiddo prison, which is now being vacated, have come up with some remarkable findings, described in Haaretz by Ruth Schuster.  The prison will be replaced by an archaeological park featuring one of the earliest-known houses of Christian worship, which was found in the ancient Jewish village of Kefar Othnay (a.k.a. Kfar Otnai), as well as the remains of a vast Roman army base across the Qeni river, Megiddo Regional Council announced this week. The new park will also encompass seven Ottoman-era flour mills built along a stream, the council says.

One of the structures was a pre-church, from before Christians began to build churches. It contains a dedication inscription in Greek:

 

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Inscription found in Roman-era prayer house in Othnay, inside Megiddo Prison compound: “The god-loving Akeptous has offered the table to God Jesus Christ as a memorial”  credit Dr. Yotam Tepper

The article is fascinating and provides fresh insights into the role of Christianity in the Roman army in the era before the conversion of Constantine.When the site becomes open to the public, it will be a worthwhile visit.

Elsewhere on our planet, in Chile, DNA analysis of a small mummy has provided insight into evolution. The researchers identified in her DNA a group of mutations in genes related to bone development. Some of these mutations might be responsible for the skeleton’s bizarre form, causing a hereditary disorder never before documented in humans.

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A mummified skeleton from the Atacama Desert in Chile has been described as “alien.” But genetic analysis shows that she was human and may have had a previously unknown bone disorder. Credit Bhattacharya S et al. 2018

SILLY TIME

What If?

If you suddenly began rising steadily at one foot per second, how exactly would you die? Would you freeze or suffocate first? Or something else?

Rebecca B. The answer tells us a bit about our atmosphere.

 

 

Believe Big Pharma?

This is how it works….

In the past I have given sweatshirts with the logo “Eschew Obfuscation” and “Procrastinate Now” to people and they were indeed appreciated, albeit in long obscure words much later. I have stumbled on a good take on procrastination:

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The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update, March 15-21

Our featured image above shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012), a devoted 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 an Israeli charity:

“Ofek Liyladenu” – Our Children’s Horizon, was established in Israel in 1997, as the national non-profit association of parents of children with blindness and visual impairment.  Ofek Liyladenu is a big community for more than 1200 families from all parts of Israeli society: Jewish, Muslims and Christians, and provides support and services to the children and their families. There are 4,000 children with blindness and visual impairment in Israel (2,500 legally blind). We believe that the children not only can be integrated into society, but grow and become active citizens and leaders. They should be able to exercise their right for equality and become capable members of Israeli society and so making it a better stronger society. With our trust and support the sky is the limit.

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The director of the organization is our dear friend Yael Weiss-Rind. Please make a generous donation to help these children.

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 aboriginal people of Australia.  Read the post and try to help them, if only by a letter to your local Australian ambassador.

aus-abor-jmi-08_article_column

Aboriginal cave art, Australia.
© John Miles/Survival

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

INDIA

Urgent Action Victory! – Kashmiri Photojournalist Released on Bail

Kamran Yousuf was granted bail and released from prison on 14   March 2018, following six months of pre-trial detention. He has been charged with several criminal offenses including ‘waging war against the government of India’, and faces life imprisonment if convicted. Kamran Yousuf, a  free lance journalist, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in September 2017 in relation to a case of alleged funding of terror-related acts as well as accusations that he had thrown stones at security forces.
On 14 March 2018, after six months of pre-trial detention,  he was  released from prison after a special court in Delhi granted his bail application the previous day. In January 2018, the NIA formally charged Kamran Yousuf, along with 11 others, with offenses
under the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities(Prevention) Act (UAPA), including ‘criminal conspiracy’,waging war against the government of India’, committing ‘unlawful activities’ and being a ‘member of a terrorist organization’. The
primary evidence put forward for these charges were that  his mobile number was “persistently located at places where counter-terrorist operations were in progress” and that he was not a “real journalist” as he had not covered developmental activities carried out by the government. If convicted of the charges, Kamran Yousuf,who is 20 years of age, faces life imprisonment. Amnesty International believes the charges against Kamran Yousuf to be fabricated and politically motivated, and part of an attempt to stifle journalism in Kashmir. The special court, in its order granting bail for Kamran Yousuf, observed that the NIA failed to provide any evidence to show the accused indulged in stone pelting activities at any site, establish any direct links between him and the other accused in the case or prove he was member of any specific banned organization or that he was involved in “terrorist activities”. In response to the claims made by the NIA, the court further  observed that “mere presence of the accused at the site of incident is not sufficient to implicate such accused, who is a journalist, for the offenses that allegedly occurred during that period at that site” and that Kamran Yousuf covered “all kinds of incidents ranging from social, cultural, political and economical and other activities in the Kashmir Valley and as such…his presence on the sites of stone pelting incident etc is intrinsic”.
Kamran Yousuf will still face trial for the criminal offenses laid against him in January, however, the court stated that holding the NIA’s “accusation as prima facie true” would cause a “serious dent” to the personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Amnesty International will continue to monitor his trial and issue updates, as appropriate. Thank you to all those who sent appeals. No further action is requested from the UA network.

SYRIA

Urgent Action Victory! – 35 Ill and Injured Evacuated from Eastern Ghouta

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An air strike has reportedly killed 15 children and two women sheltering in an underground school in Syria’s besieged rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region.

A further 35 patients awaiting medical evacuation in besieged Eastern Ghouta have been evacuated to Damascus city for medical treatment and care. 496 patients are still awaiting evacuation. They require urgent medical treatment.

On 12 March, the armed group Jaish al-Islam and Russia agreed to allow the UN and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent to evacuate injured and ill civilians from Douma, a town in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus city. On 13 March, 35 ill and injured were evacuated to Damascus city for medical treatment. Medics told Amnesty International that 33 of the evacuees were among the 529 patients awaiting evacuation since July 2017. A further two patients had recently been evacuated due to the severity of their injuries.

The previous medical evacuation took place on 27 December 2017 when the Syrian government approved the medical evacuation of 29 critical cases of the 558 patients from Eastern Ghouta. This evacuation was completed on 29 December 2017, with 17 children, six women, and six men transferred to hospitals in Damascus, where they are being treated for serious injuries or medical conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and kidney failure. Eastern Ghouta has been besieged by government forces for six years; the area is home to around 400,000 civilians.

We will continue monitoring the situation in Eastern Ghouta and will be sharing all relevant updates and actions on our story page, available here.

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

UKRAINE

Urgent Action: Police Must Protect Women’s Rights Activists

Image result for ukraine women's day

Across Ukraine, marches marking International Women’s Day, on 8 March, were marred by violence against peaceful demonstrators. Far-right groups physically attacked and have threatened with further violence women’s rights activists taking part in the event. The local police say that they are unable to offer protection from far-right groups.

TAKE ACTION

UZBEKISTAN

Urgent Action Update: Tortured Journalist Must Be Immediately Released

On 8 February, human rights activists reported that two SNB officers leading the investigation on the case against detained journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev had been suspended and that the General Prosecutor’s Office had initiated investigations into allegations of torture and fabrication of a criminal case. Bobomurod Abdullayev, however, remains in SNB detention.

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TAKE ACTION

MÉXICO

Urgent Action: 48 Asylum Seekers at Risk of Refoulement

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48 people including families and children, who came to Mexico looking for protection, are at risk of being deported to possible persecution or grave human rights violations in their countries due to unusual failures in the procedures of Mexico´s refugee agency and migration authority.

TAKE ACTION

COLOMBIA

Urgent Action: Indigenous Yukpa People Face Eviction

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

Yukpa indigenous people that crossed to Colombia are facing eviction and threat of being sent back to Venezuela violating their rights as a binational population. The Colombian State is denying their right to remain in the country and their rights as Indigenous Peoples.

TAKE ACTION

 

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update, March 8-14

Our featured image shows Miriam Shlesinger (1947-2012), a 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 Reporters without Borders, who serve to protect our right to be informed. Being a journalist is fraught with danger. As of today, the press risk barometer shows:

Violations of press freedom barometer

The figures in 2018
  • 4 journalists killed
  • 2 citizens journalists killed
  • 1 media assistants killed
  • 181 journalists imprisoned
  • 123 citizens journalists imprisoned
  • 15 media assistants imprisoned
    capture_decran_2016-04-09_a_12.55.26
    This organization defends not only the journalists, but also us who need truthful information. The struggle is world wide. Both governments and terrorists seek to impede the function of journalists.
    rsf_1140

 

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. Help stamp it out.

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 call for the repeal of the Lebanese law that forces a girl to marry her rapist.

URGENT ACTION CASES

PERU

Urgent Action: Threats Against Environmental Defenders

3500

The Chaparrí Reserve is a wildlife hotspot, particularly known for its population of the rare spectacled bear. Photograph: Mariana Bazo/Reuters

Alleged land traffickers harass and threaten members of the Save Chaparrí Defense Front of the Chaparrí Ecological Reserve in Peru. The members of the Front fear for their safety.

TAKE ACTION

USA

Urgent Action: Withheld Evidence At Issue As Execution Nears

William Montgomery is due to be executed in Ohio on 11 April for a 1986 murder he says he did not commit. Six federal judges argued he should have had a new trial because a police report contradicting the state’s theory of the case was withheld from the defense.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

Urgent Action: 20 Relatives of Uighur Journalist Detained

Related image

Approximately 20 relatives of Gulchehra Hoja, a Uighur journalist living abroad, have been detained and are at risk of torture. Based in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of China, her family members are all thought to have been targeted due to Gulchehra Hoja’s work.

TAKE ACTION

VENEZUELA

Urgent Action: Detainee Missing in Venezuela

cao

The fate and whereabouts of Gilber Caro, imprisoned in Venezuela for political reasons, have been unknown since the early hours of 2 March. Gilber Caro has been arbitrarily detained since 11 January 2017. He is being unlawfully tried before a military court despite being a civilian and Member of Parliament.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Urgent Action: Indigenous Peoples Advocate Arrested for “Sedition”

hrd_upendra_nayak

Upendra Nayak, a 65 year old lawyer who defends the rights of indigenous Adivasi people, was arrested by the Odisha state police in eastern India on 20 February 2018 for his alleged links with Maoist armed groups, in relation to cases registered by the police over eight years ago. Upendra Nayak faces charges including ‘sedition’ under the Indian Penal Code and various sections of the draconian anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). If found guilty, he could face life imprisonment.

TAKE ACTION

Prometheus and Pandora XII

Our featured  image evokes the holiday of Purim. Cheers and best wishes to all who are going to celebrate it this week.

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 Haim Guri

October 9, 1923 Tel Aviv, Mandate Palestine-January 31, 2018 (aged 94) Jerusalem, Israel

gouri
Haim Gouri, a leading Israel poet died on January 31. His life represents a history of an entire generation who fought to create the state and lived long enough to experience great disappointment with the community as it stands today.He grew up in a socialist Zionist family. His father served for a long time in the Knesset (Parliament) as a representative of Mapai, the precursor of the Israel Labor Party. Haim Gouri served in the Palmach, the elite strike force of the Hagana underground, which fought in the 1940s to establish the state of Israel. After the war he was sent to Hungary to organize Holocaust survivors to come to Israel and participate in the struggle for independence and the establishment of the state. The experience had a profound effect on him.

A number of his most famous poems became some of Israel’s most beloved songs, particularly those about the War of Independence in 1948 and the founding of Israel. He became well-known to the Israeli public for his journalistic coverage of the Adolf Eichmann trial in 1961.

He published 12 books of poetry and 10 works of fiction and nonfiction, as well as translations, journalism and documentary films. Obituaries can be found in Haaretz and in the NYTimes.

A RANT ABOUT RACISM

First let us understand what we mean by this term. Racism is the belief that characteristics and abilities can be attributed to people simply on the basis of their race and that some racial groups are superior to others. Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns. In a short introductory video the Understanding Race project from the American Anthropological Association says race is a powerful idea and an enduring concept, invented by society. It has also fostered inequality and discrimination for centuries, as well as influencing how we relate to other human beings:

The American Anthropological Association has posted comments on race, racism and their implications on its Web site. They have developed a program for teaching middle school age children about race.

A set of principles: The program conveys three overall messages:

Race is a recent human invention
Race is about culture, not biology
Race and racism are embedded in institutions and everyday life.

That given, let us look at manifestations of racism in the world around us and try to understand how we can oppose racism in all its forms.

It is important to debunk various misconceptions upon which racism rests:

There is no biological foundation to ‘race.’ Physical differences between individuals and groups of individuals are genetically /scientifically so minute they are meaningless. What matters are the social meanings that are attached to perceived physical differences, be these ‘skin color,’ hair color, height, etc., and the political and economic forces that support (reinforce, and enforce) these perceptions. In other words, ‘race’ is a social construction. The idea that somehow white skin color provides a justification for the idea of racial superiority has over time been responsible for the colonial attitudes that caused European powers to conquer enslave and oppress indigenous people throughout the world

In Calgary, Alberta, a body called CARED ((Calgary Anti-Racism Education) maintains a Web site devoted to confronting racism. We strongly recommend that you open the site and learn about anti-racism and how to be an effective participant in the struggle. The philosophy of CARED is defined thus:
“Our Philosophy

“We recognize both the influence and the potential of the formal education system, as well as the many anti-racism initiatives in workplaces and communities, and want to build on that potential. The CARED Collective has engaged in extensive discussion and consideration of the terms “Anti-Racism Education” and “Anti-Racism Training.” While recognizing the very significant impacts of individuals working within the formal ‘education system” we believe that historically the formal education system has often functioned to reinforce rather than dismantle racism. This has been aptly demonstrated in analyses of how specific racialized groups have been misrepresented (or absent altogether) in the curriculum, in teacher education, in positions of authority and decision-making within the system. Studies of racism experienced by racialized ‘students’ and ‘teachers’ in the system have demonstrated that it is characterized by silence, exclusion, subtle behaviors and overt acts of violence and, increasingly, anti-racism has also been demonstrated in critical analyses of whiteness. Moreover, racism in the formal education system is not only about ‘who’ is in the system, who holds positions of authority in the system, or about curriculum content. While these absolutely are crucial factors, they are not the only considerations. It is not only a matter of What is taught, but How.”

While individual racism can seek protection under freedom of speech laws, it ultimately is connected with what sociologists define as systemic racism which manifests itself in two ways:

institutional racism: racial discrimination that derives from individuals carrying out the dictates of others who are prejudiced or of a prejudiced society
structural racism: inequalities rooted in the system-wide operation of a society that excludes substantial numbers of members of particular groups from significant participation in major social institutions.

Manifestations of systemic racism are often easy to identify, for example, in the Jim Crow laws of the US or the treatment of the Bushmen by the government of Botswana. Others are more subtle such as opportunities in education, hiring and advancement practices and access to sports. An example is the sport of ice hockey, which in the US and Canada is predominantly white. There is no explicit policy that excludes people of color and indigenous people from participating in organized hockey, yet there are few players of color/indigenous players. What is it that keeps organized hockey ‘white’?

Playing hockey is expensive (fees and gear), time consuming for families, requires transportation and an accommodating work schedule, and in most of Canada, for example, is conducted in English. While there is no ‘intent’ to exclude non-English speaking, lower-income, shift-working, single-parent families from playing organized hockey, the system is designed by and for middle-class, professional white families. The same is true for soccer in the US.

We also see structural racism in the attitude towards refugees in countless countries. The fact that most of the refugees are black or Muslim or both plays a major role in determining the reception or non-reception of refugees in Western countries such as Norway, Australia, Israel and many others.

It behooves all of us to look carefully at our own attitudes. The CARED program in Canada is a channel through which one can fight racism. The organization Survival International provides an opportunity to help indigenous tribes around the world. Amnesty International works to defend human rights around the world and by the nature of such work encounters racism almost everywhere.

RANT ABOUT ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING

Again we are facing a school shooting in the US, this time a school in Florida with at least 17 dead, 5 of them Jewish. The description is harrowing. A former student, who had been expelled for undisciplined behavior returned to the school with an automatic rifle and shot students all over the building. He is now in custody and will answer for his crime, but none of this will enhance personal security in a country that refuses to control deadly weapons in the hands of its citizens. The US spends untold billions fighting terrorism around the world and rightly so, but as pointed out by Uri Friedman in the Atlantic, it does little to prevent mass shootings at home. The shooting this week in Parkland FL is the eighth such event in 2018 only seven weeks into the year. Prometheus and Pandora have given up on the US political system as an entity to do something about gun proliferation. Joe Biden, the former vice president of the US has started a petition calling out members of Congress who are not willing to take the risk of standing up to the NRA. Please go there and add your name.

ON ACCOUNTABILITY AND SEX CRIMES #METOO IS MAKING CHANGES HAPPEN

The rise of the #MeToo movement has brought about a change in attitudes towards the major issue of abuse of women and girls (and men and boys as well.) We would like to call your attention to an op-ed in the NYTimes by Nicholas Kristof in which he revisits the sad case of Dylan Farrow who was sexually assaulted by her adoptive father, Woody Allen, when she was seven years old.

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Dylan Farrow

She is now a woman in her thirties and continues her allegation, now with the support of #MeToo women and others who now are ostracizing Allen.

The counter view points out that there is little evidence of the abuse and cites the findings of an evaluation team from Yale New Haven Hospital, who concluded that Allen had not sexually abused Dylan. On the other hand, the judge in the custody case noted that “Mr. Allen’s behavior toward Dylan was grossly inappropriate.” Bret Stephens writing also in the NYTimes makes the point that whereas the case against Harvey  Weinstein and the like was backed by evidence beyond any reasonable doubt, Dylan Farrow’s case suffers from the lack of such evidence. As Kristof puts it: “Indeed, the certainty of the Dylan Farrow case is that there has been a gross injustice: Either an innocent man’s career is being destroyed, or a victim has been unfairly doubted since she confided in her pediatrician about an assault when she was 7 years old.”

OK enough ranting–we could fill countless blogs with the corruption scandals in Israel, but we will leave that to professional journalists. Here is a link to Haaretz which is full of the nasty business. Now let us move on to more pleasant places.

SHAKESPEARE’S MUSE DISCOVERED

william-shakespeare-194895-1-402
Software used by professors to discover plagiarism by students has been applied to the search for sources of the vocabulary and stories in various plays by Shakespeare. A pair of unusual scholars, Dennis McCarthy and June Schlueter, claim, in a book about to be published, to have found such a source. The authors are not suggesting that Shakespeare plagiarized but rather that he read and was inspired by a manuscript entitled “A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels,” written in the late 1500s by George North, a minor figure in the court of Queen Elizabeth, who served as an ambassador to Sweden.

This is an amazing discovery for the Shakespeare scholarly community. and will spur more searches for unpublished manuscripts to which Shakespeare might have had access. Stay tuned.

OUR BOOK REVIEWS

Our friends at the New York Review of Books have provided us with reviews of a trio of works about Jacques Offenbach which includes a new biography by Lawrence Senelick, a musicologist reconstruction of Tales of Hoffman and a production at the Met. The three
are reviewed by Adam Kirsch.

CLASSICAL CANCAN
Adam Kirsch
January 18, 2018 Issue

Jacques Offenbach and the Making of Modern Culture
by Laurence Senelick
Cambridge University Press, 354 pp., $120.00

The Real “Tales of Hoffmann”: Origin, History, and Restoration of an Operatic Masterpiece
by Vincent Giroud and Michael Kaye, with a foreword by Plácido Domingo
Rowman and Littlefield, 563 pp., $130.00; $75.00 (paper)

Les contes d’Hoffmann, an opera by Jacques Offenbach, directed by Bartlett Sher, at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, September 26–October 28, 2017

Jacques Offenbach; engraving by André Gill from the cover of <i></dt><dd class=

It is noted that Offenbach is known today mainly for Tales of Hoffman, which Senelick describes as untypical of Offenbach’s oeuvre in its intellectual, poetic, and melancholy nature. In his time his works were known to Paris audiences for being comic, knowing, exciting; they lampooned everything respectable, from classical mythology to military glory to the sanctity of marriage; they featured actresses baring their legs and shoulders as they danced the cancan. Pandora and Prometheus regard him as a Gallic version of Gilbert and Sullivan, albeit with the explicit sex and wild abandon censored out in the latter to conform with Victorian English prudery. Can you imagine the Three Little Maids in the Mikado coming on with a CanCan like this?

We have two of his send ups in our DVD collection, La belle Hélène and Orphée aux Enfers, and they are delightful spoofs. The book certainly looks like a good read.

A COLLECTION OF ESSAYS BY MARILYNNE ROBINSON

Reviewed in the NYTimes by Parul Seghal

This collection of essays of Marilynne Robinson deals with the question in the title. When Barak Obama asked her how she got to where she is, how someone born in the boondocks of Idaho becomes the kind of person who declares, as Robinson does, “democracy is my aesthetics and my ethics and more or less my religion”?, the answer is somewhere in her writings, possibly here.

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Marilynne Robinson Credit Alec Soth/Magnum, for The New York Times

In these essays she comes to grips with that question herself. The book is demanding, but well worth the effort. Help may be found in the long interview with her by

 

SCIENCE TIDBITS

THE GLOBAL VIROME PROJECT (GVP)

Global Virome Project (540x270)

GVP is a ten-year project to pre-empt emerging pandemic threats by identifying the majority of unknown viruses throughout the world that are likely to infect humans.

The Challenge

We live in an era when the threats posed by global pandemics and epidemics are greater than at any other point in human history. Recent outbreaks such as SARS, Ebola and Zika illustrate that we are ill-prepared and extremely vulnerable to emerging viral threats. However, less than 0.1% of all viruses with the potential to pose a threat to global health are estimated to have spilled over from animals to humans. Since the mid-20th century, new and deadly diseases have emerged at an alarming rate and the threats from this vast pool of unknown viruses are accelerating exponentially, driven by our expanding population and global travel.

Pandora and Prometheus are most impressed and hope that the project brings the anticipated benefits to humankind.

SPOOKY SCIENCE

Using a single photon, or particle of light, two people can simultaneously send information to one another, scientists report in a new pair of papers. The feat relies on a quirk of quantum mechanics — superposition, the phenomenon through which particles can effectively occupy two places at once. The theory is given in a paper in Phys. Rev. Letters and a demonstration is shown in paper posted at arXiv.org on February 14.
Imagine that two people, Alice and Bob, are stationed some distance apart. In standard classical physics, Alice and Bob would each require their own photon to send each other messages simultaneously, with each light particle transmitting a single bit, 0 or 1.

022118_EC_onephoton_feat

DOUBLE DUTY  Thanks to the phenomenon of quantum superposition, a single particle of light can send information in two directions at once, scientists report.

If, however,  Alice and Bob possess a photon that is in a superposition — simultaneously located near Alice and near Bob — both of them can manipulate that photon to encode a 0 or 1, and then send it back to the other. How each manipulates the photon determines which of the two receives the photon in the end. If Alice and Bob put in the same bit — both 0s or both 1s — Alice receives the photon. If their bits don’t match, Bob gets it. Since Alice knows whether she sent a 0 or a 1, she immediately knows whether Bob encoded a 0 or 1, and vice versa.

To show that such communication is possible, Walther and colleagues sent single photons through an arrangement of mirrors and other optical devices. The setup put the photon in a superposition, sending it simultaneously to two stations that represented Alice and Bob.

By changing the phase of the light’s electromagnetic wave — shifting where the troughs and peaks of the wave fell — the researchers encoded the photon with a 0 or 1 at each station. Then, at each station, the photon — still in limbo between Alice and Bob — was sent to the opposite station. Along the way, the photon interacted with itself, interfering like water ripples combining to amplify their strength or cancel out. That interference determined whether the final photon was detected at Alice’s station or Bob’s.

Indeed quantum mechanics is weird, but it is certainly fascinating.

NEANDERTHALS NOT ALL THAT DUMB

Neanderthal-and-human-sku-011

Neanderthal and modern human skulls. Photograph: Sabena Jane Blackbird/Alamy

It has long been believed that the extinction of Neanderthals was caused by the arrival of humans who had a cognitive edge that manifested itself in more cooperative hunting, better weaponry and innovation, a broader diet, or other major advantages. Careful
study of the archaeological record does not support any of the hypotheses based on this assumption. Part of the misunderstanding may have arisen because researchers compared Neanderthals with their successors, the modern humans who lived in the Upper Palaeolithic, rather than the humans who lived at the same time. That is like saying people in the 19th century were less intelligent than those in the 21st because they didn’t have laptops and space travel.

SILLY TIME

What If

What if I tried to re-enter the atmosphere in my car? (a 2000 VW Jetta TDI). Would it do more environmental damage than it is already apparently doing?

—Casey Berg

The answer is interesting.

jetta

 

BIG PHARMA HAS CONVINCING ADS

1601899

WELCOME TO NEW WORLD POLITICS

 

AND THE MODERN SCHOOL…

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update February 8-14

miriam

Miriam, human rights defender, 1947-2012

Our feature image above shows a Bushman child from Botswana where his people are subject to virulent racial discrimination.

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 Against Malaria Foundation. They are highly rated by GiveWell. Their mission–

What do they do? AMF (againstmalaria.com) provides funding for long-lasting insecticide-treated net (LLIN) distributions (for protection against malaria) in developing countries.

Does it work? There is strong evidence that distributing LLINs reduces child mortality and malaria cases. AMF has conducted post-distribution surveys of all completed distributions to determine whether LLINs have reached their intended destinations and how long they remain in good condition. AMF’s post-distribution surveys have generally found positive results, with some exceptions, but have some methodological limitations.

Nonetheless, we call upon you to support the fight against malaria, the main killer of children in Third World countries.

 

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. Help stamp it out.

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 against slavery in the Thai chicken industry.

URGENT ACTION CASES

USA

Urgent Action Victory! – Governor Stays Execution After Juror Plea

On 8 February, the Ohio Governor issued an eight-month reprieve for Raymond Tibbetts, who was due to be executed on 13 February. The decision came after he received a letter in support of clemency from one of the jurors from the 1998 trial.

Raymond Tibbetts was sentenced to death in 1998 for the murder of Fred Hicks in 1997. The sentence survived the appeals process despite what a federal judge described in a dissent in 2011 as the trial lawyer’s “failure to engage in basic preparation” of mitigation evidence about the defendant’s traumatic upbringing. Evidence raised on appeal, she wrote, “revealed a much more chaotic and abusive environment” in parental and foster care than the jurors had heard about. Such “shocking” and “utterly disturbing” details would have given them “compelling” reasons to vote for life, she wrote. In January 2017, however, the Ohio parole board recommended by 11 votes to one that the Governor deny clemency. The majority acknowledged Raymond Tibbetts’s “traumatic” childhood, but decided that they could not “say, with any reasonable degree of confidence, that the outcome of the trial would have been different had his trial attorneys presented that mitigation evidence in the manner suggested by his current attorneys”.

A man who served as a juror at Raymond Tibbetts’s trial wrote a detailed letter dated 30 January 2018 to Governor John Kasich after reviewing the mitigating evidence which had been seen by the parole board but not the jury. The juror expressed his “deep concerns about the trial,” in light of this information and concluded that “[b]ased on what I know today I would not have recommended the death penalty.” In an Ohio capital case, a jury must be unanimous for the death penalty for that to be the outcome.

The former juror wrote: “Governor, if we are going to have a legal process that can send criminals to death that includes a special phase for mitigation shouldn’t we get it right?” He wrote that “this is not about my conscience beyond having an opportunity to explain how I believe the trial process was not well served in this case”. He urged the governor to commute the death sentence. Among his reasons were “the truly terrible conditions, understated at trial, of Tibbets (sic) entire childhood”; “The lack of preparation if not outright malpractice on the part of the defense for the sentencing phase”; and “The apparent ineptitude of the defense team in not calling Tibbets sister to testify”. He also suggested that the scant nature of the mitigation case had allowed the prosecution to “dismantle” it. In her 2011 dissent, the federal appeals court judge had noted that not only had the abuse been mentioned only “vaguely and in passing” at the trial, “it is important to remember one of the State’s tactics during the penalty phase was to challenge the legitimacy of the defense’s mention of childhood abuse, however minimal the reference”.

On 8 February, Governor John Kasich wrote to the Chair of the Ohio Parole Board requesting that the board convene a new hearing to review the case “in light of this new information”. To “facilitate this process”, the Governor said he had issued an eight-month reprieve. The Warrant of Reprieve holds that the death sentence will now be carried out at 10am on 17 October 2018 “unless further reprieve or clemency is granted”.

Raymond Tibbetts’s defense team has expressed its gratitude for “the crucial support of Ohioans to Stop Executions, Amnesty International, and other grassroots organizations who mobilized their strong network to contact Ohio’s Governor on behalf of Ray.”

No further action by the UA Network is requested at present. Many thanks to all who sent appeals.

 

UZBEKISTAN

Urgent Action Update: Tortured Journalist Must Be Immediately Released

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On 8 February, human rights activists reported that two SNB officers leading the investigation on the case against detained journalist Bobomurod Abdullayev had been suspended and that the General Prosecutor’s Office had initiated investigations into allegations of torture and fabrication of a criminal case. Bobomurod Abdullayev, however, remains in SNB detention.

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AZERBAIJAN

Urgent Action: Azeri Activist Conscripted Despite Ill-Health

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Azeri activist Ulvi Hasanli has been conscripted for military service, despite being in ill-health, and sent to the zone of the unresolved conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh. Following a medical examination in September 2017, he was exempted from military service until 2019 on grounds of ill-health; an ultrasound showed he had inflamed kidney and kidney stones. However late in October the decision was reversed and he was detained and taken to a military base to begin his military service. Amnesty International believes he is being targeted because of his peaceful activism.

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MEXICO

Urgent Action Update: Threats to Journalist Reporting Disappearances

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Mexico’s missing people

On 19 January a television reporter published videos from surveillance cameras that suggest that police from Chilpancingo, Guerrero state, were involved in six of seven cases of disappearances that occurred in late December and early January. Days after, the reporter received threats on Twitter.

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NORTH KOREA

Urgent Action Update: Forcibly Returned Woman Faces Treason Charges

A woman named Koo Jeong-hwa (aged 24, previously identified as Lee Su-jung in China) has been detained since 3 December 2017 in North Korea and a decision on her sentence is expected from the Ministry of State Security in March 2018. She is at risk of being sent to a political prison camp together with her 4-year-old son, where they may be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.

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