Category Archives: Arkeeblog

Prometheus and Pandora XVIII

Our featured image shows Athena and Hephaistos, who had been ordered by Zeus  to create a woman, Pandora, admiring their handiwork.

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

 

IN MEMORIAM

NEIL SIMON July 4, 1927-August 26, 2018

'THE ODD COUPLE' PLAY OPENING NIGHT POST PARTY, NEW YORK, AMERICA - 27 OCT 2005

Neil Simon, one of the rare late-20th century playwrights who was a brand name for plays such as “The Odd Couple” and “Barefoot in the Park,” died on August 26. He was 91. A statement from his reps said, “Neil Simon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright, died on August at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. The cause was complications from pneumonia. His wife, Elaine Joyce Simon, was at his bedside along with Mr. Simon’s daughters, Ellen Simon and Nancy Simon.” In addition to his four Oscar nominations and 17 Tony nominations, Simon’s works brought an unsurpassed 50 Tony nominations for their actors. His competitive Tony wins came for “The Odd Couple” (best playwright) and for best play for “Lost in Yonkers” and “Biloxi Blues.”

Detailed obituaries can be found in the NYtimes and Variety.

 

John T. “Jack” Gosling 10 July 1938-10 May 2018

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John T. “Jack” Gosling died 10 May 2018, in Louisville, Colo., after a battle with cancer. With his passing, the field of space physics has lost one of its most insightful, productive, and influential scientists, and many of us have lost a dear and treasured friend. A detailed obituary and account of his great scientific achievements has been written by his colleagues at Los Alamos National Laboratory. and published in EOS. the journal of the American Geophysical Union. Rest in peace, dear friend.

UNRANT

For once we want to be a bit positive. We have found a fascinating site called Brainpickings, run by a lady named Maria Popova. Prometheus and Pandora recommend that you take a look at it and maybe cough up a donation to keep it running.

Pandora and Prometheus would like to link you to a review of a beautiful book by the great Shel Silverstein, The Missing Piece. Enjoy!

RANT OF THE MONTH

Prometheus and Pandora have been ranting for quite a while about the erosion of democracy in Israel and elsewhere. At the risk of being redundant we will link you to a hard-hitting article by Chemi Shalev in Haaretz in which he analyzes the spooky symbiosis between Trump and Netanyahu and draws a parallel between the pogrom of Charlottesville a year ago and the Nation State law in Israel. Both support white/Jewish supremacy and as Shalev writes-“We’re all Jews, Netanyahu is signaling, we know why we’re here, and nothing else matters:.”

Of course much else does matter, especially the rights of minority communities, Arabs, Druze and others. The problem is in many ways the assertion that the Jewish nature of the state trumps human rights. If the rightist interpretation of Judaism is adopted, Israel will find itself disconnected from the largest Jewish community in the world, that in the USA, most of whose members are liberal.  Shuki Friedman writing in Haaretz makes the point that the definition of Judaism is the critical point in the struggle for the soul of the nation. If the closed parochial version continues to be dominant then democracy has no chance. We shall also lose our connection to the liberal nations still left in the EU.  Eva Illiuz, also in Haaretz, points out the catastrophic effect for the Jews of the world of Israel’s alignment with the populist, often anti-Semitic countries around the world. Hungary and Poland are strong examples of this trend.

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An illustration depicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shaking hands with Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Auschwitz. Credit Eran Wolkowski

Despite the hostile environment, there are people, including human rights lawyers and other activists, who are struggling in Israel to protect minority rights. David Shulman writing in the NYRB extols their courage and persistence . He reviews two books, one on the connection of Jews to human rights in the 20th century and the struggle for human rights in  Israel seen  through the eyes of a human rights lawyer.

A RANT IN A PICTURE

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY MARGY!

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In a few weeks our dear friend and colleague Margy Kivelson, professor emerita at UCLA, will celebrate her 90th birthday. Over the decades we have shared  several spacecraft missions and have greatly enjoyed both working with her and hanging out in her delightful company. She has had a remarkable career and is still going strong in science and in everything else. We had an email from her a few weeks ago that warmed our hearts. For a description of her life and career we refer you to the NYTimes who do it much better than we could.

TIDBITS FROM SCIENCE

GALILEO LETTER DISCOVERED

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The original letter in which Galileo argued against the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church has been rediscovered in London. Credit: The Royal Society

The original letter of 1613 — long thought lost — in which Galileo Galilei first set down his arguments against the church’s doctrine that the Sun orbits the Earth has been discovered in a misdated library catalogue in London. The letter was used in the process against him by the Inquisition. It appears that he modified the letter to soften his claims against Scripture as science, but the version that was used in court was the strong one. The new discovery resolves the question of how the softening was done. It appears that Galileo himself did the editing and lied about the first version.

LANDING ON AN ASTEROID

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This spectacular photo shows the view from asteroid Ryugu of the Minerva-II1A rover during a hop after it successfully landed on Sept. 21, 2018. The probe is one of two that landed on Ryugu from the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft. It’s the first time two mobile rovers landed on an asteroid.
Credit: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency

Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu–part of a sample return mission of the mother spacecraft Hayabusa2. The  robots now have a companion on the surface of   Ryugu. A shoebox-sized lander called the Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) deployed from its mothership, Japan’s Hayabusa2 spacecraft, as planned at 9:57 p.m. EDT Tuesday (Oct. 2; 0157 GMT on Oct. 3) and came to rest on Ryugu shortly thereafter.

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The German-French Mobile Asteroid Surface Scout (MASCOT) lander captured this photo of asteroid Ryugu during landing operations on Oct. 3, 2018. The lander’s shadow is visible at upper right.
Credit: German Aerospace Center (DLR)

SILLY TIME

WhatIf

What would the world be like if the land masses were spread out the same way as now – only rotated by an angle of 90 degrees?

—Socke

The answer from Randal is very interesting. You will enjoy reading it.

SPELLING IS IMPORTANT

HERE IS A LINK TO A WUMO

Prometheus and Pandora do not wish to run afoul of WUMO’s copyright.

WE HEAR MUCH ABOUT AI…

 

 

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Blog September 13-18

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

We are publishing a day early this week because of Yom Kippur

We wish our Jewish readers an easy fast and   חתימה טובה

 

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

Typhoon Mangkhut, a powerful storm 550 miles wide, has pummeled the Philippines, and the full scope of the damage is not yet known. Hurricane Florence has struck the east coast of the United States. The NYTimes provides a guide to helping the victims.

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 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 stop the exploitation of children in orphanages around the world. Unscrupulous individuals are profiting from the trafficking and abuse of children under their care in orphanages across the world. Traffickers, attracted by the funding orphanages receive from donations and organizations offering ‘voluntourism’ placements, effectively turn children into commodities by ensuring there is a constant supply of children who are used to attract funding.

URGENT ACTION CASES

RUSSIA

Mikhail Benyash. Photo: 'Golos Kubani', https://golos-kubani.ru/v-krasnodare-advokata-siloj-vygnali-s-suda-po-delam-zaderzhannyx-na-akcii-protiv-putina/

Urgent Action: Lawyer assaulted and arbitrarily detained in Russia

On 9 September, lawyer Mikhail Benyash was arrested, beaten and detained by police after meeting his client who had taken part in a peaceful protest in Krasnodar, a city in the south of Russia. A court convicted and sentenced Mikhail Benyash to 14 days in administrative detention on 11 September. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

INDONESIA

Image result for meliana case indonesia

Urgent Action: 18 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR MOSQUE NOISE COMPLAINT

Meliana, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman, has been convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining about the loudspeaker volume at a local mosque. Amnesty International considers her a prisoner of conscience who must be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

MAURITANIA

Image result for Abdellahi el Housein Mesoud

URGENT ACTION: ANTI-SLAVERY ACTIVISTS ARBITRARILY ARRESTED

Two members of the anti-slavery organization Initiative for the Resurgence of the Abolitionist Movement (IRA) were arbitrarily arrested on 7 August in Nouakchott, west Mauritania. Biram Dah Abeid, IRA president and candidate to the September parliamentarian elections, and Abdellahi el Housein Mesoud have been charged and denied access to legal representation.

TAKE ACTION

IRAN

Image result for Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader

Houshmand Alipour (left) and Mohammad Ostadghader are feared to face death penalty by the Iranian government.

URGENT ACTION: IRANIAN KURDS FORCED TO MAKE TV “CONFESSION”

Iranian Kurds Houshmand Alipour and Mohammad Ostadghader were arrested by security forces on 3 August and held incommunicado for weeks. They were shown on state television on 7 August making a forced “confession” incriminating themselves. They have had little access to their families and no access to lawyers of their choosing.

TAKE ACTION

 

Miriam Shlesinger August 30-September 5

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 Center for Biodiversity.

The Center for Biological Diversity works through science, law and creative media to secure a future for all species, great or small, hovering on the brink of extinction. Learn more about the Center for Biological Diversity. They have a high rating from 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.

A major calamity for indigenous people is land theft. Colonialism is alive and kicking. Act

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 choose your campaign.

 

Demand dignity for domestic workers

URGENT ACTION CASES

VICTORY

TAJIKISTANI PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE RELEASED

On 22 August, independent journalist and prisoner of conscience Khai rullo (Kha y rullo) Mirsaidov received a non – custodial sentence and was released in the courtroom, after spending more than eight months behind bars. He had been detained and prosecuted following his allegations of government corruption

KAZAKHSTAN

PRISONER AT RISK OF LOSING EYESIGHT

Tungishbayev
Kazakhstani activist and blogger, Muratbek Tungishbayev risks losing sight in his left eye due to the penitentiary authorities’ failure to provide him with necessary medical care following surgery he had on his eye. He remains held in pre-trial detention in Almaty, on politically – motivated charges and requires urgent surgery immediately in order to save his sight. Amnesty International considers Muratbek Tungishbayev to be a prisoner of conscience.
TAKE ACTION

VIETNAM

vietnam_-_tran_thi_nga

URGENT ACTION: FEARS FOR PRISONER OF CONSCIENCE AFTER DEATH THREAT

Human rights defender Tran Thi Nga recently told her husband in a hurried phone call that she had been brutally beaten up and has received a death threats by an other inmate. After a previous call with her family, it appears that the attacks have been orchestrated by prison authorities to punish her. Detained for more than 18 months, Tran Thi Nga is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released.
TAKE ACTION

UGANDA

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URGENT ACTION OPPOSITION POLITICIAN DETAINED; SIGNS OF TORTURE

On 14 August, Robert Kyagulanyi, also known as Bobi Wine, a Ugandan singer turned politician was arrested and later charged with unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition on 16 August. While being arrested, he was physically assaulted with visible injuries and swelling on his face and body.
TAKE ACTION

NIGERIA

Image result for Samuel Ogundipe

URGENT ACTION NIGERIAN JOURNALIST DETAINED AND THREATENED

Journalist Samuel Ogundipe is being detained at the Special Anti – Robbery Squad (SARS) headquarters, Guzape district Abuja. He was brought to court without a lawyer present and has been charged with ‘ criminal trespass ’ and ‘ theft of police document ’ . He was arrested on 14 August after honoring an invitation by the SARS unit of the Nigerian police to report to their office as part of an investigation into a news article Premium Times, the online newspaper he works for, published.

TAKE ACTION

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Protect children exposed to gruesome violence in DRC’s Kasai region

Image result for kasai children amnesty

As the violence in Kasai continues, children continue to suffer the most, being exposed to horrid violence.

Thousands of children have beeN either forcibly recruited or tricked into fighting in the armed conflict by armed groups such as the Kamuena Nsapu. A military campaign launched by the government against the Kamuena Nsapu insurgency has cost thousands of lives and has displaced more than a million people, some within the Kasai region and others crossing into Angola.

TAKE ACTION

 

Prometheus and Pandora XVII

Our featured image shows Mercury presenting Pandora to Prometheus by Richard Westmacott

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

URI AVNERY September 10, 1923-August 20, 2018

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Uri Avnery in July, 2014. credit אורן זיו

Uri Avnery was an icon and a great man who provided us in the peace movement the leadership that we need. We shall miss him sorely and can only hope that someone will rise to take on the mantle and try to fill these huge shoes. He was the first to put forward the idea of two states, Israeli and Palestinian living in peace, side by side. From the early 1950s, long before any talk of a Palestinian state by Israel’s side became fashionable, even among the left, Avnery supported a two-state solution. On a deeper level, he was the first Israeli public figure, in a generation when the Palestinians were perceived as indistinguishable from the wider Arab nation, to call upon other Israelis to see the Palestinians as a distinct nation, living beside them. The highlights of his career are shown in this graphic.

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While Uri was a skilled politician and leader, he, and many in his circle, admitted he had some difficulties when it came to people skills. A friend once said:
“Avnery is disabled like Trumpeldor was. Trumpeldor lacked an arm;
Avnery lacks feeling.”  Uri wrote in his memoir: “There’s something wrong with my emotional relations with people. And the worst thing about it is, I don’t really care.”

We recall meeting him at a demonstration opposite the Defense Ministry that had been poorly scheduled and conflicted with a human rights demonstration before an embassy  by Amnesty International. When he was reproached for this, his response was “shut up and pick up a sign.” While he could be thorny at times, he earned respect by showing up in his late 80’s to demonstrate in hard conditions including blows and tear gas, such as at Bil’in, where he provided a physical example to followers who could easily have been his grandchildren. His devoted wife Rachel was by his side until her death in 2011. We were even  helped by Rachel with an onion when the tear gas became dense.

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Uri was one of the people, along with the late Baruch Kimmerling, who led the way in dissent from the Zionist party line (more or less the same for all the parties). He left a huge legacy of clear rational thinking about our future with the Palestinians, something sorely lacking in our present leadership.

Here are six must reads written by Avnery for Haaretz, plus an interview marking his 90th birthday. We note that President Rivlin, who is far on the political spectrum from Uri and his group, had praise for him.

Rivlin said on Monday that Uri Avnery was “the eternal opposition figure” whose fight for freedom of expression “paved the way of Israel as a young country.”

 “We had strong differences, but they paled in contrast to the aspiration to build a free and strong society here,” Rivlin said.

 Detailed obituaries can be found in Haaretz, in the Guardian , in Forward and in the NYTimes.

Aretha Franklin March 25, 1942 August 16, 2018

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Regarded as one of the greatest singers of all time, Aretha Franklin has died of advanced pancreatic cancer at age 76. Aretha Franklin was one of the most iconic voices in music history and a brilliant artist. Over the course of her decades-long career, she inspired countless musicians and fans, and created a legacy that paved the way for a long line of strong female artists.


Known as “the queen of soul”, Franklin sold more than 75 million records in her lifetime and won 18 Grammy awards. She had 77 entries in the US Billboard Hot 100 and 20 No 1 singles on the R&B chart. Her last album was A Brand New Me, released in November 2017, which paired archival vocal recordings for Atlantic Records with new orchestral arrangements by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Her last original recording was Aretha Franklin Sings the Great Diva Classics in 2014, which included her take on Adele’s Rolling in the Deep.

“American history wells up when Aretha sings,” former US president Barack Obama said of her performance of (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman at the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors. “Nobody embodies more fully the connection between the African-American spiritual, the blues, R&B, rock’n’roll – the way that hardship and sorrow were transformed into something full of beauty and vitality and hope.”
In the wake of her death, some of America’s most prominent figures have paid their respects. Barack and Michelle Obama put out a joint statement, reading, in part:

“Every time she sang, we were all graced with a glimpse of the divine. Through her compositions and unmatched musicianship, Aretha helped define the American experience. In her voice, we could feel our history, all of it and in every shade—our power and our pain, our darkness and our light, our quest for redemption and our hard-won respect. She helped us feel more connected to each other, more hopeful, more human. And sometimes she helped us just forget about everything else and dance.”
Franklin performed at Obama’s 2009 inauguration, singing My Country, ‘Tis of Thee. Her final live performance was at a gala event for Elton John’s AIDS foundation, in November 2017. John posted a tribute on Instagram, saying: “The loss of Aretha Franklin is a blow for everybody who loves real music: Music from the heart, the soul and the Church. Her voice was unique, her piano playing underrated – she was one of my favorite pianists.”

JOHN MCCAIN August 29, 1936, August 25, 2018

Sen. John McCain has died from complications of aggressive brain cancer. He was just four days shy of his 82nd birthday.

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A Navy officer for 22 years, a tortured prisoner of war in Hanoi for more than five, a congressman for six, a U.S. senator for 31, and the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, McCain became one of the nation’s most prominent politicians. While he had vociferous critics for some of his views and many of his votes, he gained wide respect on both sides of the Senate aisle.

Former president Obama posted a moving tribute to John McCain:

“John McCain and I were members of different generations, came from completely different backgrounds, and competed at the highest level of politics.   But we shared, for all our differences, a fidelity to something higher — the ideals for which generations of Americans and immigrants alike have fought, marched, and sacrificed.
 We saw our political battles, even, as a privilege, something noble, an opportunity to serve as stewards of those high ideals at home, and to advance them around the world. We saw this country as a place where anything is possible — and citizenship as our patriotic obligation to ensure it forever remains that way.”
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“Few of us have been tested the way John once was, or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own. At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”
The tweet by Trump, totally void of any real feeling is not worth quoting. John McCain left instructions that Trump should not speak at his funeral.

 

RANT ABOUT FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION

The Israeli government is using its security service, Shin Bet, to harass leftists and Arabs and in general anyone who dares to criticize the government and the occupation, in particular the latter. This has been going on for a long time, but has become worse recently. The interrogation of Peter Beinart at the airport indicates that no one, no matter how highly placed and famous, is immune to the attack of the “opinion police.” The reasoning behind this systematic harassment of so-called leftists has been analyzed by Carlo Strenger writing in Haaretz. While the Netanyahu government strives to perpetuate the image of democratic Israel, in substance it is doing all in its power to destroy liberal democracy, which includes judicial oversight, press freedom and freedom of expression. Mordechai Kremnitzer also in Haaretz deals with the politicization of the Shin Bet which makes it play a role in delegitimization by the government of the opponents of the occupation.
Bradley Burston in Haaretz tells us flat out that the Israel we knew and loved has gone, destroyed by the actions of our antidemocratic government. Burston uses the Hebrew expression “sinat hinam”-gratuitous hatred, hatred without just cause, hatred which does nothing but take a place of conflict, despair, bigotry, violence, and make it worse. He gives several examples of which we quote one:
“… security services at Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion Airport’s departures area took aside and interrogated at length and with pronounced incredulity a prominent Jewish-American philanthropist who chairs Brandeis University’s Board of Trustees, is Orthodox, and has close family in the settlement city of Maaleh Adumim. The reason? His suitcase had been searched, and guards had found a pro- Palestinian pamphlet in his luggage, left over from coexistence meetings the philanthropist had attended between Jewish-American community leaders and Palestinians.”

Chemi Shalev in Haaretz makes it clear, the state of Israel is rotting away, falling into the hands of the likes of Ayelet Shaked and her colleagues in the illiberal government that cozies up to the likes of ethnocentric Hungary. As Shalev concludes “An Israel that stoops so low as to detain someone like Beinart, and implicitly threatens to brand him persona non-grata, is not my Israel. It is not the country I grew up in, and it is not a country that I would want my children to live in either.”
Prometheus and Pandora are waiting for the Israeli Jews who believe in the values of liberal democracy to stand up and struggle for the soul of the country we all love.

The erosion of democracy is not unique to Israel. We see it happening all over the world where populist demagogues  lead people to follow them blindly and cheerfully give up their rights and freedoms. Marcus Tullius Cicero is said to have reacted to the takeover of Rome and the subversion of the republic by Julius Caesar  with the comment–“blame not Caesar, blame the mindless people who dance for him in the streets as he deprives them of their freedoms”. More recently, Paul Krugman, writing in the NYTimes, explains how vulnerable US democracy is to the same demise that has happened in Eastern Europe and it is not because of economic stress.  He puts it bluntly-“The point is that we’re suffering from the same disease — white nationalism run wild — that has already effectively killed democracy in some other Western nations. And we’re very, very close to the point of no return.” The threat by Trump of violence if the Republicans lose in the forthcoming midterm elections cannot be dismissed. In Israel, blind hatred of Arabs and racism towards African refugees play the same role.

RANT ABOUT GENOCIDE IN MYANMAR

A UN report has said top military figures in Myanmar must be investigated for genocide in Rakhine state and crimes against humanity in other areas.

The report, based on hundreds of interviews, is the strongest condemnation from the UN so far of violence against Rohingya Muslims. It says the army’s tactics are “grossly disproportionate to actual security threats”. Myanmar rejected the report.

At least 700,000 Rohingya have fled violence in the country in the past 12 months. Prometheus and Pandora are very disappointed in Myanmar’s de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, for failing to intervene to stop attacks. The Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu called her out last year in an open letter:

My dear Aung San Su Kyi

I am now elderly, decrepit and formally retired, but breaking my vow to remain silent on public affairs out of profound sadness about the plight of the Muslim minority in your country, the Rohingya.

In my heart you are a dearly beloved younger sister. For years I had a photograph of you on my desk to remind me of the injustice and sacrifice you endured out of your love and commitment for Myanmar’s people. You symbolised righteousness. In 2010 we rejoiced at your freedom from house arrest, and in 2012 we celebrated your election as leader of the opposition.

Your emergence into public life allayed our concerns about violence being perpetrated against members of the Rohingya. But what some have called ‘ethnic cleansing’ and others ‘a slow genocide’ has persisted – and recently accelerated. The images we are seeing of the suffering of the Rohingya fill us with pain and dread.

We know that you know that human beings may look and worship differently – and some may have greater firepower than others – but none are superior and none inferior; that when you scratch the surface we are all the same, members of one family, the human family; that there are no natural differences between Buddhists and Muslims; and that whether we are Jews or Hindus, Christians or atheists, we are born to love, without prejudice. Discrimination doesn’t come naturally; it is taught.

Aung San Su Kyi File picture: Edgar Su/AP

My dear sister: If the political price of your ascension to the highest office in Myanmar is your silence, the price is surely too steep. A country that is not at peace with itself, that fails to acknowledge and protect the dignity and worth of all its people, is not a free country.

It is incongruous for a symbol of righteousness to lead such a country; it is adding to our pain.

As we witness the unfolding horror we pray for you to be courageous and resilient again. We pray for you to speak out for justice, human rights and the unity of your people. We pray for you to intervene in the escalating crisis and guide your people back towards the path of righteousness again.

God bless you.

Love

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu

Hermanus, South Africa

 

We can add nothing to this call.

 

RANT ABOUT SEA LEVEL RISE

A recent study by a group of scientists led by Stéphane Hallegatte of the World Bank has estimated the dangers threatening   coastal cities around the world. They assess economic average annual losses (AAL) in 136 coastal port cities, using a method developed for assessing city-level flood risk and a new database of urban coastal protection. The results are horrific and we, as homo sapiens, have only ourselves to blame. Prometheus is again wondering if giving fire to humans was a good idea. Here is a view of flooding in Mumbai, India.

 

Read the article carefully and especially note the tables, which   unfortunately we cannot reproduce here.

EXCITING NEWS FROM SCIENCE

Higgs boson observed to decay to two bottom quarks

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An ATLAS candidate event for the Higgs boson (H) decaying to two bottom quarks (b), in association with a W boson decaying to a muon (μ) and a neutrino (ν). (Image: ATLAS/CERN)

CERN has announced that the Higgs boson that was discovered six years ago has been found to decay into two bottom quarks. The finding,  by the ATLAS and CMS collaborations at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), is consistent with the hypothesis that the all-pervading quantum field behind the Higgs boson also gives mass to the bottom quark. Both teams have submitted their results for publication. The result gives support to the Standard Model. Cheers all over geekdom.

BOOK REVIEWS

J. M. Coetzee, the Netherlands, 2005

J. M. Coetzee, the Netherlands, 2005

 

 

THE CHILDHOOD OF JESUS

By J.M. Coetzee
Published 2013-09-03
Viking Adult

THE SCHOOLDAYS OF JESUS

By J.M. Coetzee
260 pp. Viking. $27.

This week we consider a pair of novels by the Nobel Laureate J.M. Coetzee, The Childhood of Jesus (2013) and the Schooldays of Jesus (2017). The former was reviewed in the Guardian by Theo Tait and the latter in the NYTimes by Jack Miles. The Schooldays of Jesus also has a review in the NYRB by Colm Tóibín. The novels deal with a man Simon and a boy David who come to a new and unknown land. They have moved across Lethean waters to a new land, a place called Novilla, in order to start a new life. It may or may not be the afterlife; the boy and the man have been “washed clean” of all their memories, given these new names, and taught the rudiments of Spanish, the land’s language, at a refugee camp.
Coetzee has brought his characters to an island.  Simón tells Davíd:

“You arrived on a boat, just as I did, just as the people around us did, the ones who didn’t have the luck to be born here…. When you travel across the ocean on a boat, all your memories are washed away and you start a completely new life…. There is no before. There is no history. The boat docks at the harbor and we climb down the gangplank and we are plunged into the here and now. Time begins. The clock starts running.”
The novels are enigmatic as Coetzee uses the utopian setting to expound his philosophical ideas. In analogy to Robinson Crusoe, his two Jesus books play with the idea of how life on a desert island can become more intense, almost more true, as does his own version of Defoe’s story, Foe (1986). The life away from the noise of the world offers a zone where more searching questions can be asked,  in which the social space of the novel can be replaced by parable and commentary on what we deem important and how stories come to us.

Critics have said that these two books are not as great as Diary of a Bad Year or Waiting for the Barbarians, which among others led to his 2003 Nobel Prize.  Pandora and Prometheus will leave that question to you.

SILLY TIME

What if–answers to absurd questions.

What would happen if I dug straight down, at a speed of 1 foot per second? What would kill me first?

Jack Kaunis

Enjoy the answer.

WE HAVE LONG HELD WITH THE PRINCIPLE “ESCHEW OBFUSCATION”

ABOUT KETTLES AND POTS…

Cheap flights have a long history as told by WUMO. Now you can fly for 50p.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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.

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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.

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You can download this book

Look for these logos:

 

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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

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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

Image result for michael belton
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.”

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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…