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The Miriam Shlesinger Memorial Human Rights Action Update October 8-14

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and 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”.

CHARITY CORNER

Although there has been little easing of the pandemic we nonetheless turn our attention to other burning needs. We still encourage you to support Doctors without Borders who are fighting the virus in the places with the greatest need of support.

Ebola, a race against time

This week our chosen charity is Books for Africa. This is a non profit organization devoted to promoting literacy in Africa by facilitating donations of books. They have up to now donated 50 million books.

The charity is highly rated by Charity Navigator and is worthy of your support.

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.

Decolonize Conservation
It’s time to decolonize conservation and put tribal peoples at the forefront of the environmental movement. It’s best for tribes, for nature, for all humanity.

A major calamity for indigenous people is the lack of respect for their basic human rights.Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. We fight for tribal peoples’ survival. We stop loggers, miners, and oil companies from destroying tribal lands, lives and livelihoods across the globe. We lobby governments to recognize indigenous land rights. We document and expose the atrocities committed against tribal people and take direct action to stop them. Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected.

This week we call your attention to the conservation racket that is destroying the lives of tribal people.

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 cnn download this book

Look for these logos:

Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join <a href="http://Freedom United and raise your voice to call call for justice for Adelina

Ade;lins

Adelina Lisao’s case has captured the attention of many across the world. Adelina was a young Indonesian domestic worker who passed away on February 11, 2018 due to organ failure as a result of allegedly suffering physical and emotional abuse and forced labor at the hands of her employers in a private home for two years.

Adelina was found with a swollen face, bruises all over her body and pus-filled wounds, a result of the burns on her arms and legs. Due to the extent of her injuries which were left untreated, her employers forced her to sleep outside in the compound with the dog to prevent “dirtying the home” from her weeping wounds.

By the time Adelina was admitted to hospital, it was evident that she was on borrowed time and she passed away only a day after she was rescued.

The High Court, evoking Section 254(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code, acquitted Adelina’s employer, Ambika MA Shan, on grounds of health concerns and lack of evidence despite the deputy Public Prosecutor’s request for a discharge not amounting to acquittal.

A year later, the bench in the Court of Appeal affirmed the decision put forth by the High Court, claiming that the decision was not erroneous. This decision was a regressive step for the Malaysian justice system – it conveyed a severely harmful message condoning heinous acts of abuse and exploitation. The climate of impunity afforded to those undeserving of it must be put to an end.

This petition demands for Adelina’s employer, Ambika MA Shan, to be charged separately under Section 304 of the Penal Code which provides for deaths caused by culpable homicide not amounting to murder or those caused by negligence. The prosecution is looking to correct this grave miscarriage of justice.

A person is dead and her blood is on all our hands. Allowing for perpetrators such as Ambika to walk free makes us all complicit in the death of Adelina and many others who shared the same fate.

Adelina’s life is the sad reality of thousands more domestic workers who are susceptible to all forms of exploitation, and it is high time that we make an effort to increase protection for all domestic workers.

We hope that you will join us in seeking justice as we believe that we owe it to Adelina and her family to protect her dignity in her absence.

Signing this petition is a step forward in preserving the integrity of our justice system and ensuring that it provides protection due to all and especially the marginalized and vulnerable.

URGENT ACTION CASES

BELARUS

Urgent Action: Release Human Rights Defender Marfa Rabkova

Women’s human rights defender Marfa Rabkova was detained as a criminal suspect under false pretext on the evening of 17 September, by officers of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption (GUBAZIK). Her husband, Vadzim Zharomski, was also detained but released shortly thereafter. Marfa Rabkova may face criminal charges. She is a prisoner of conscience, targeted solely for her peaceful human rights work and must be immediately and unconditionally released.

TAKE ACTION

KENYA

Urgent Action: Forced Eviction Leaves 3,000 People Homeless

On 1 October, residents from Dagoretti Corner settlement, in Nairobi, Kenya, were forcibly evicted from their homes by government agencies, ‘Kenya Railways Corporation’ and ‘Kenya Power & Lighting Company’ leaving more than 3,000 people homeless. This unlawful act was done in utter disregard of the Presidential moratorium on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, issued on 11 May 2020. We call upon all stakeholders to act in cognizance of the need to safeguard the good health and life of all those forcibly evicted in this unlawful eviction.

TAKE ACTION

USA

Urgent Action Update: Free Families Kept in Immigration Detention

As COVID-19 runs rampant in USA family detention centers, immigration authorities continue to lock up nearly ninety families who travelled to the US seeking safety from violence and persecution in their home countries. As of 6 August, at least 130 detained family members and facility staff tested positive for COVID-19. In July, a judge ordered authorities to release children because of COVID-19, but she did not have jurisdiction over parents. Authorities refused to release them together. Releasing children but continuing to detain parents constitutes family separation. We demand authorities release all families together immediately to protect them from the pandemic.

TAKE ACTION

COLOMBIA

Support miners striking against the ‘death shift’ at Cerrejón

The National Union of Coal Industry Workers (Sintracarbón) is involved in a bitter strike at the Cerrejón coal mine in Colombia, jointly owned by three multinational mining companies, Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. In February 2020, Sintracarbón, in good faith, withdrew its list of demands and suspended collective bargaining negotiations due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the current round of collective bargaining negotiations in July, the company has not responded to the union’s bargaining proposals and has instead demanded concessions in acquired rights and benefits. On the second day of negotiations Cerrejón unilaterally announced a radical shift change roster, without consulting the union and in violation of Colombian law. The new shift roster, which workers call the ‘death shift’ will lead to the loss of 2,500 direct and indirect jobs, will require workers to work an additional 72 days a year for the same wage, will cause turmoil in workers’ family lives – particularly those with family responsibilities – and will lead to an increase in fatigue and thus an increase in accidents. Cerrejón has boycotted the government labor ministry’s facilitation to end the strike, now in its fourth week.

Please join the protest.

The Miriam Shlesinger Memorial Blog for Human Rights Action August 13-19

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and human rights defender

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

esiderius 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”.

CHARITY CORNER

CHARITY CORNER

Although there has been little easing of the pandemic we nonetheless turn our attention to other burning needs. We still encourage you to support Doctors without Borders who are fighting the virus in the places with the greatest need of support.

This week our chosen charity must be aid to the stricken city of Beirut where poorly warehoused explosive ammonia nitrate exploded in a blast that left parts of the city in ruins.

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 is an essential 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.

A major calamity for indigenous people is the lack of respect for their basic human rights.Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. We fight for tribal peoples’ survival. We stop loggers, miners, and oil companies from destroying tribal lands, lives and livelihoods across the globe. We lobby governments to recognize indigenous land rights. We document and expose the atrocities committed against tribal people and take direct action to stop them. Our vision is a world where tribal peoples are respected as contemporary societies and their human rights protected. This week we call your attention dangers inherent in so-called progress, which if forced, can kill. Forcing “development” or “progress” on tribal people does not make them happier or healthier. In fact, the effects are disastrous. The most important factor by far for tribal peoples’ well-being is whether their land rights are respected.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

The purpose of this section of the blog is to join the struggle against slavery worldwide. Each 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.

You can download this book

Look for these logos:


Find a campaign to work for. Light must be made to shine in the darkest of places. We invite you to join Freedom United        and raise your voice to call for an end to the enslavement of the Uyghur people of China.

URGENT ACTION CASES

MALDIVES

Urgent Action: Serious Health Concerns for Maldivian Politician

https://external-content.duckduckgo.com/iu/?u=https%3A%2F%2Ftse1.mm.bing.net%2Fth%3Fid%3DOIP.LAkv6beZHY6O38RP7OtQxwHaE8%26pid%3DApi&f=1

Ahmed Adeeb, former Maldivian Vice President, suffers from several ongoing health conditions. Arrested in 2015 for what were believed to be politically motivated charges, his convictions were overturned last year and other charges against him were dropped in July 2020. Local media outlets have reported that the Prosecutor General submitted the case for appeal and accordingly, Adeeb was taken into custody again on 24 July following an order by High Court, raising further concerns about his well being.

TAKE ACTION

COLOMBIA

On 2 July, the Inter-Ecclesiastic Commission of Justice and Peace received confidential information about an ongoing plan to kill the Human Rights Defender Jani Silva. The plan is allegedly run by an armed group called “La mafia” because of the voluntary crops substitution program that Jani Silva is promoting in the Putumayo region (South West), Colombia. According to NGOs, “La Mafia” is behind the killings of 14 persons in the Putumayo region since the COVID-19 lockdown started. We are urging the National Protection Unit to increase the protection measures for Jani Silva.

TAKE ACTION

USA

On 14 July, the US authorities carried out the first federal execution in 17 years, with two others following closely on 16 and 17 July. Two of them were executed hours after their original death warrants had expired, following the lifting by the US Supreme Court of temporary injunctions put in place by lower courts. As a fourth man remains at risk of execution on 28 August and new executions have been set for August and September, we urge the US Attorney General to call off the death warrants and abandon any plans to pursue further executions.

TAKE ACTION

JORDAN

Release leaders of the Jordanian Teacher Association

Education International (EI) calls on workers and unionists to urge the Jordanian authorities to immediately release the education union leaders and revoke the unlawful suspension of all union work by the Jordanian Teacher Association. Read more and join the protest.

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PROMETHEUS AND PANDORA XXV

Our featured image shows Cassandra. a priestess of Troy who was given the ability to issue true prophecy by Apollo, but was believed by no one. This curse was placed on her when she failed to deliver her part of the deal, guess what!

FOLLY OR EVIL

Throughout human history foolish decisions by power holders have caused calamitous results for nations and peoples. The late American historian Barbara Tuchman defines folly as “Pursuit of Policy Contrary to Self-Interest.” In her book THE MARCH OF FOLLY, Tuchman examines 4 conflicts: The Trojan Horse, The Protestant Secession, The American Revolution, and The American War in Vietnam. In all four cases, a wiser choice was available. As Tuchman writes,”The power to command frequently causes failure to think.”

The Trojan War was a great military adventure of ancient times, undertaken by the kings of ancient Greece against the city of Troy. It lasted for ten years and cost many lives, but also produced many heroes.

We see this now in the handling of the corona virus crisis. Heads of state in various countries either tried to deny the pandemic and some, as in Latin America continue to do so or come up with idiotic ideas such as the recent recommendation by Donald Trump that injection of detergents or UV light inside the body might be cures for covid-19! Alas, his idiotic advice was taken by too many people.

Randy Rainbow puts this in perspective and drives home the point that what is really lacking is intelligent leadership in the USA and elsewhere. There are places,

Randy Rainbow puts this in perspective and drives home the point that what is really lacking is intelligent leadership in the USA and elsewhere. There are places, such as Finland and New Zealand, where the pandemic is being confronted by intelligent leadership with better results. Nonetheless there is still no cure or vaccine available.

This graphic shows the spread of the virus around the world.

The state of the US with regard to the pandemic continues to deteriorate with over 100,000 deaths at the this writing (20/6).
This graphic illustrates what is happening.

Steve Almond writing in PBS WBUR Cognoscenti provides a cogent
analysis of what went wrong and why the USA, in contrast to other
countries, has no real chance of stopping the pandemic. He points
out the role that right wing ideology a la Goldwater and Reagan has
had in leading the US down this path of destruction. It is sad to
think of the great Republican Abraham Lincoln and what he might
think of what has happened to his party. His concept of government
was that government should do for people what they cannot do for
themselves. As Almond concludes and Prometheus and Pandora agree,

“This is the America foretold by Goldwater and Reagan, one in which
“government” is a cynical joke told among white people. The
punchline used to be decaying schools, a decimated middle class, a
diseased health care system and a dying planet. It is now a plague
that is killing thousands of people. If we continue down this path,
the death toll will be in the millions. And it will include
American democracy itself.”

It is not obvious to Prometheus and Pandora that this is a matter of folly and not malevolence. Leaders such as Trump in the US, Netanyahu in Israel, Bolsonaro in Brazil and others, too many to list, care nothing of the well being of their people. Their role in office is to enrich the plutocracy that supports them, to deregulate business, which involves endangering the public, and to appoint reactionary judges. It is encouraging to note that Netanyahu has gone on trial for several charges of corruption, bribery and other types of malfeasance.

PURE EVIL

Pandora and Prometheus have no doubts about the source of the police brutality that has had a huge upsurge around the world. The killing of George Floyd by a policeman in Minneapolis MN who strangled him by kneeling on his neck and of Eyad Hallaq in Jerusalem, an autistic special needs person who was gunned down by border police although he posed no threat to them or anybody, are two blatant examples of police going rogue. Police brutality or police violence is legally defined as a civil rights violation where officers exercise undue or excessive force against a subject. This includes, but is not limited to, physical or verbal harassment, physical or mental injury, property damage, and death.

Most recently police brutality in the USA has been in the spotlight since the killing of George Floyd . The result has been an upsurge in protests against the abuse of authority by police officers and the coverup tactics of their commanders. On the worldwide scale we see that police brutality is a nigh universal phenomenon, appearing in various degrees in all countries, some of which are more enlightened and actually impose accountability and others in which impunity is almost total. The #sayhername movement points our the violence directed against black women everywhere and how their suffering is little noticed while male victims such as George Floyd make the headlines.

Pandora and Prometheus wish to draw your attention to the unholy parallelism between police brutality and the scandal of sexual abuse by members of the clergy of the Catholic Church. The issues share the following:

  1. Abuse of power
  2. Betrayal of trust
  3. Attack on most vulnerable
  4. Coverup by commanders or bishops

The major difference between the two sets of crimes is the existence of a central source of overriding authority in the Church, namely the Pope and the Holy See. This authority was able to call the various components of the Church to account. One must, however, recall that this happened only after a widespread outcry by the members of the Church, the media, lawsuits and complaints to the police and to political authorities. The case of the police is far more diffuse and calls for concerted efforts in every community. It must involve the political leadership, civil society,the various media both electronic and print, religious leaders and first and foremost a refusal of the public to tolerate the entire culture of brutality, racism, misogyny (vid. #sayhername) and impunity which has been dominant for far too long. It has been said :

“There is sometimes a fine line between a cop and a criminal. What drives their personality may be the same, and they have simply chosen different roles and professions to call their own.”

Dr. ML Rapier PhD, Clinical Psychologist.”

It, alas happens everywhere.

We see the violence and the anger and yes, even the looting, but we (whites) fail to understand what Kareem Abdul Jabbar points out to us, that when people are pushed to the edge, an explosion is inevitable. When a regime tainted with fascism confronts the people’s legitimate demands for freedom and justice, the explosion becomes lethal and full of societal dynamite.

NEWS FROM SCIENCE

PUREST AIR ON THE PLANET

The Southern Ocean is a huge body of wat stretching around the Earth with far fewer landmasses than its Northern counterpart. It is very cloudy and our lack of understanding of the composition and characteristic of the clouds over this remote region consistently cause weather models of the planet to fail to reproduce the observed weather and to be in contradiction to satellite observations. The lack of data is a result of the remoteness of the region in question.

A team of atmospheric scientists was based in Hobart, Tasmania for six weeks to collect cloud, aerosol and precipitation data over the Southern Ocean during a research project called the Southern Ocean Clouds, Radiation, Aerosol Transport Experimental Study (SOCRATES). The Southern Ocean is the stormiest place on Earth, churned by winds and waves that circle the ice of Antarctica. This remote and usually pristine environment is typically removed from human-caused and naturally produced continental airborne particles. For this reason, the region is a unique laboratory for studying the interactions between clouds and particles naturally produced by the ocean, such as sea salt and biogenic particles. Prometheus and Pandora invite you to read the report on the mission written by a trio of scientists from the University of Colorado.

METALLIC HYDROGEN?

Metallic hydrogen is found in nature only in the interior of a giant planet. Creating the metallic phase in the laboratory has been a target of much research. A team at Cornell University has issued a claim to have achieved this goal. The paper is available on line, but has not undergone peer review. In the description in Science News, we find others expressing reservation about the result. Stay tuned. If correct, we may be moving towards a room temperature super conductor, a Holy Grail of materials science.

BOOK REVIEW

Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present (Open Yale Courses) 1st Edition

by Frank M. Snowden (Author)

In his new book, “Epidemics and Society: From the Black Death to the Present,” Frank M. Snowden, a professor emeritus of history and the history of medicine at Yale, examines the ways in which disease outbreaks have shaped politics, crushed revolutions, and entrenched racial and economic discrimination.

The book is published by Yale University Press who provide the following description:

This sweeping exploration of the impact of epidemic diseases looks at how mass infectious outbreaks have shaped society, from the Black Death to today. In a clear and accessible style, Frank M. Snowden reveals the ways that diseases have not only influenced medical science and public health, but also transformed the arts, religion, intellectual history, and warfare.”

A multidisciplinary and comparative investigation of the medical and social history of the major epidemics, this volume touches on themes such as the evolution of medical therapy, plague literature, poverty, the environment, and mass hysteria. In addition to providing historical perspective on diseases such as smallpox, cholera, and tuberculosis, Snowden examines the fallout from recent epidemics such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, and Ebola and the question of the world’s preparedness for the next generation of diseases.

https://media.newyorker.com/photos/5e5eac5d242fe900086bd215/master/w_2560%2Cc_limit/Chotiner-Epidemics-1.jpg
Epidemics like the coronavirus outbreak are a mirror for humanity, reflecting the moral relationships that people have toward one other, the historian Frank M. Snowden says.Source Photograph from National Institutes of Health / NYT / Redux

In The New Yorker there is an interview of Snowden by Isaac Chotiner which provides interesting and sobering insights of our response to pandemic. If you lack the time or the energy to read the huge tome, you should at least read the interview.

CAN THIS BE TRUE?

We are calling attention to Yuri Alexandrovich Bezmenov, a former KGB agent who defected to Canada in 1970. In 1984 he gave an interview to G. Edward Griffin from which much can be learned today. His most chilling point was that there’s a long-term plan put in play by Russia to defeat America through psychological warfare and “demoralization”. It is a long game that takes decades to achieve but it may already be bearing fruit. It sounds like science fiction and it may indeed be someone’s fantasy, but if we look at the US today we see that some of the predictions are becoming real. The lack of perception of objective reality is a most troubling phenomenon, which finds its harmful expression in the public lack of understanding of the depth of the corona crisis. We see this everywhere and it is hard to explain this world wide outburst of folly. The near riot that hit the British beach of Bournemouth last weekend is an indication of the lack of responsibility of the broad public.

https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/69621d2b0bb792f3be75b03d7bd615d50bbc1b37/0_173_4735_2840/master/4735.jpg?width=1140&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=829b49abf2f2575109b7743dde069bb5
People were aghast

On the other hand, the New Yorker tells us how Iceland beat the virus by keeping the politicians out and letting the real professionals deal with it intelligently.

Diners in downtown Reykjavik. Since the onset of the pandemic, only a few types of businesses—night clubs and hair salons, for example—were ever ordered closed.Photograph by Valdimar Thorlacius for The New Yorker

SILLY TIME–ENOUGH DYSTOPIA

WHAT IF? 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 as usual is interesting.

Wisdom of the street
Our dog Murphy is equally helpful to his octogenarian owners…
True not only of kings…

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update, June 25-July 1

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and human rights defender

esiderius 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”.

CHARITY CORNER

Along with our support of the struggle against the pandemic, we turn our attention to other burning needs. We still encourage you to support Doctors without Borders who are fighting the virus in the places with the greatest need of support. We call your attention this week to NALA an organization of medical personnel devoted to curing neglected tropical diseases. Their approach based on the following has shown results and is worthy of your support:

education,

drug administration

and hygiene

WINGS FOR SPECIAL KIDS.


We ask you to support Krembo Wings, an Israeli non-profit organization which brings children with and without disabilities together for weekly social activities in its branches across Israel. Krembo Wings serves children and youth of all backgrounds and reflects the diverse make-up of Israeli society. Krembo Wings motto is Together Creating a Meaningful Place for Everyone. The society provides a warm and friendly environment for children and adults who have special needs.


We are pleased to have been chosen as special advisor to the UN (ECOSOC) in the area of inclusion. Together we can make this world a better place!

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.

A major calamity for indigenous people is forced contact with outsiders. Please raise your voice for them and their right to live as they choose. In particular, the Covid19 virus is particularly dangerous for the tribes in the Brazilian jungles. Throughout the world there are many tribes who choose to avoid contact with the outside world. Today they are under a threat of extinction from Covid-19 and should be protected. It matters not whether death is brought by miners and loggers or by missionaries.

As you can see, the issue is not only Brazil, but worldwide. It goes far beyond the present crisis and has to do with the infringement of their basic rights in the name of so-called “progress.” For example we call your attention to Peru’s Murunahua people.

Please protest now!!

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 the exclusion of migrants and survivors from health care as the pandemic rages on.

URGENT ACTION CASES

AZERBAIJAN

Urgent Action: Psychiatric Detention for Criticizing the President

Opposition activist Agil Humbatov has been held in psychiatric detention in Baku, Azerbaijan’s capital, and injected with unknown drugs without his consent since 2 April after he criticized the authorities’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. On 2 June, his forced hospitalization was extended for another month. Agil Humbatov has been arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and must be freed immediately.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

Urgent Action: Australian Chinese Writer Held Incommunicado

Yang Hengjun, an Australian citizen who has amassed a wide public following as a novelist and blogger, was arrested and detained at Guangzhou airport on 19 January 2019. After being detained for more than a year, Chinese authorities finally announced in March 2020 that Yang would be charged with espionage. Citing the COVID-19 pandemic, the authorities have suspended all his visitation rights since 30 December 2019. Yang is believed to be detained at Beijing State Security Bureau Detention Center, and there are grave concerns that he is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

INDONESIA

Urgent Action: More Than 400 Rohingya People Stranded at Sea

As many as 400 Rohingya refugees are believed to be stranded at sea, with dozens of deaths having already been recorded. Fleeing violence in their home state, South and Southeast Asian governments are using COVID- 19 pandemic-related restrictions to block them from landing safely and seeking asylum. The Indonesian Government, as co-chair to the 2016 Bali Process, has a responsibility to manage a regional response to this crisis and co-ordinate search and rescue operations to locate and assist boats in distress, in line with regional declarations and international law.

TAKE ACTION

PHILIPPINES

Urgent Action Coca-Cola union leaders defending their members’ right to safe work sacked for ‘economic sabotage’!

Coca-Cola management in the Philippines is capitalizing on the coronavirus emergency to attack union leaders of the IUF-affiliated FCCU-SENTRO and intimidate their members with dismissals, disciplinary procedures and the use of police power.

Federal and provincial authorities declared imposed strict lockdown measures on March 16-17, requiring people to stay at home with exceptions for the food and other ‘essential’ industries. Coca-Cola workers suspected of COVID-19 exposure were required by management to self-quarantine without pay. The company, meanwhile, created a media buzz by announcing a USD 3 million contribution to fighting the virus.
Please join the protest.

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update June 18-24

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and human rights defender

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”.

CHARITY CORNER

Along with our support of the struggle against the pandemic, we turn our attention to other burning needs. We still encourage you to support Doctors without Borders who are fighting the virus in the places with the greatest need of support.This week the world marks World Refugee Day (June 20). MSF is, as usual, making herculean efforts to ease the lot of refugees.

A Doctors Without Borders medic checks a Syrian boy seeking asylum in Vuenna Rampa, Bulgaria, Dec. 2013. Five Doctors Without Borders staffers were taken in for questioning in northern Syria and have been out of contact since Thursday. (Doctors Without Borders)

REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS

In view of the recent curtailment of press freedom in various countries, we call upon you to support Reporters Without Borders. Reporters Without Borders promotes and defends the freedom to be informed and to inform others throughout the world. Based in Paris, it has international offices (Berlin, Brussels, Geneva, Madrid, Stockholm, Tripoli, Tunis, Vienna and Washington DC) and more than 150 correspondents in all five continents. Recently the Covid 19 pandemic has provided undemocratic and even some nominally democratic governments an opportunity to limit freedom of expression and the right of the public to accurate and truthful information.

Covid-19 was declared a worldwide pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on 11 March, since then it has been used as a pretext by governments to put constitutional guarantees on hold. Now that relative calm appears to be in prospect, it is imperative that these exceptional measures be lifted.

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.

A major calamity for indigenous people is forced contact with outsiders. Please raise your voice for them and their right to live as they choose. In particular, the Covid19 virus is particularly dangerous for the tribes in the Brazilian jungles. Throughout the world there are many tribes who choose to avoid contact with the outside world. Today they are under a threat of extinction from Covid-19 and should be protected. It matters not whether death is brought by miners and loggers or by missionaries.

As you can see, the issue is not only Brazil, but worldwide. It goes far beyond the present crisis and has to do with the infringement of their basic rights in the name of so-called “progress.” For example we call your attention to Paraguay’s Ayoreo-Totobiegosode people.

In 1979 and 1986 the American fundamentalist New Tribes Mission helped organise ‘manhunts’ in which large groups of Totobiegosode were forcibly brought out of the forest.

Several Ayoreo died in these encounters, and others later succumbed to disease.

Members of the Paraguayan Ayoreo-Totobiegosode group on the day they were contacted for the first time, in 2004.
© GAT/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:

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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 raise your voice against the the modern enslavement of prisoners, in particular black people in the United States.

The link contains an opinion piece from TRT World, in which journalist and analyst CJ Werleman argued that those who condemn the looting that has taken place the U.S. in the wake of George Floyd’s death are shamefully silent when corporations, such as Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret, and Target, among many others, effectively loot black communities.

URGENT ACTION CASES

MEXICO

Urgent Action Victory! Rights Defender Receives Additional Protection

Since we took action for Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar, women’s rights defender in Yucatán (South), she has not faced further attacks. In May 2020, the Mexican Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders started to implement protective measures in her favor, complementing those already granted in 2017 by the National Human Rights Commission.

NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUESTED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT APPEALS.

On 30 March 2020, the Secretariat of Public Security of Yucatan State, Mexico withdrew the two police escorts protecting human rights defender Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and replaced them with just one officer with limited protection functions. Adelaida is a beneficiary of protection measures granted by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) since 2017 due to the level of risk she faces as a defender of women’s sexual and reproductive rights. We were calling upon the government of the State of Yucatan to restore her full protection scheme in order to protect her life and physical integrity.

According to Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar, since we first launched the Urgent Action in April 2020, she has not faced further attacks. The National Mechanism started to implement some initial protection measures to protect her, complementing the protection measures granted by the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) in 2017.

We believe that the public campaign on behalf of Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar, including appeals sent by Amnesty International members, contributed to these positive developments. Amnesty International continues monitoring the situation and will work with Clemencia Adelaida Salas Salazar, so that she is protected according with her wishes and the highest international human rights standards.

COLOMBIA

Urgent Action Victory! Attacks Against Indigenous Communities Investigated

On 27 May, the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Villavicencio (Central Colombia) sent four people from its Technical Investigation Body to the ASEINPOME community to investigate the threats the community has experienced. This visit was ordered by the prosecutor’s office in charge of finding those responsible for the different security incidents the community has faced.

NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUESTED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT APPEALS.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown started in Colombia, the indigenous community of ASEINPOME faced at least 2 security incidents. On 24 April, at around 11 am an unknown individual entered the indigenous community of ASEIMPOME, in the Meta Region (Central Colombia). When the indigenous guard was warned, the unknown person set on fire one house. Two weeks before this security incident, unknown people were seen driving two high cylinder motorcycles were around the community.

Following national and international pressure, including the appeals from Amnesty International’ supporters, on 27 May, the Technical Investigation Body of the Villavicencio Public Prosecutor’s Office visited the community of ASEINPOME with the intention to identify the attackers and stop them from further threatening the indigenous community.

We will be in close contact with the indigenous community to assess their security situation and will swiftly react if there is a new security incident.

POLAND

Urgent Action: Activists Risk Jail for Poster Campaign

On 10 June, two Polish activists were charged with ‘theft and burglary’ in relation to a poster campaign accusing the government of manipulating COVID-19 statistics. If found guilty, they could face up to 10 years in prison. The charges are baseless and appear to be intended to punish those who freely express their criticism of the authorities. The Polish authorities must drop the criminal charges against both activists and close the investigation.

TAKE ACTION

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action Update: Conviction of Crimeans Must be Quashed

The Russian Military Court of Appeal will imminently review the verdict of human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants. The six men were arrested in Russian-occupied Crimea, brought before a Russian military court, convicted under trumped-up charges and handed lengthy prison sentences in November 2019, following unfair trials. They are prisoners of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released and their sentences quashed.

TAKE ACTION

GUATEMALA

Urgent Action: Covid-19 Hospital Workers Fired; Not Paid

46 facilities and cleaning staff of the public Industrial Park Temporary Hospital in Guatemala City were fired on 5 June and have not received pay since they began work on 23 March. The Ministry of Health that employs them said they needed a high school degree to continue working. We call on the authorities to urgently pay staff for the time worked and carry out an independent investigation into their dismissals which allows for remedies if the dismissals are found to be unfair.

TAKE ACTION

INDIA

Workers Rights under attack

Many states in India are using the coronavirus crisis as an excuse to suspend labour laws and attack workers’ rights as the central government of Narendra Modi continues its assault on the trade union movement. Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh have announced extensive changes, increasing working hours from 8 to 12 hours, introducing fixed term employment and suspended or providing exemptions to labour laws. Many other states have also introduced changes. These attacks on workers’ rights were made through executive orders when the legislative assemblies or parliament were not in session. The changes were made without consultation with trade unions, and undermine fundamental principles and rights at work. The Indian government must withdraw these changes, strengthen the labour inspectorate and provide social security for all. Please join the protest

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update January 30-February 5

Our feature image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012)

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 call your attention to a natural disaster that has impacted tens of thousands of people in the Philippines. We refer to the eruption of Mt. Taal on January 12. The Taal Volcano, located just 45 miles (72 km) from the Philippine capital city of Manila, has been trembling and erupting since Sunday, January 12. Experts report that magma levels are quickly rising and the volcano is on the verge of a full eruption. In the web site you will find a list of top rank charities that helping people impacted by the eruption. If you have difficulty, here is the list:

Charity (Sort A-Z)
GlobalGiving
International Medical Corps
Direct Relief
Americares
Taal volcano

WINGS FOR SPECIAL KIDS.

We are adding a call to support Krembo Wings, an Israeli non-profit organization which brings children with and without disabilities together for weekly social activities in its branches across Israel. Krembo Wings serves children and youth of all backgrounds and reflects the diverse make-up of Israeli society. Krembo Wings motto is Together Creating a Meaningful Place for Everyone. The society provides a warm and friendly environment for children and adults who have special needs. This call will be a permanent feature of this blog. Please donate to this worthy cause,

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.

While Australia is being devastated by fire, the aboriginal people have a solution that they have used for 50,000 years. The authorities would do well to heed 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 issue of enslaved workers in California.

Thousands of temporary workers are being trafficked into forced labor in California under threat of violence, deportation, and harm to their families

California attracts more temporary foreign workers than anywhere else in the US. As the fifth largest global economy, workers on lawful visas from all over the world seek opportunities in California.1

The vast majority of temporary workers are recruited via third-party foreign labor contractors (FLCs), some of whom act neither lawfully nor ethically. 

.The importance of checking your sellers’ supply chains cannot be overemphasized. Customer pressure to do the right thing is effective. Use It.

tackling-modern-slavery-preview


Look for these logos:

URGENT ACTION CASES

VENEZUELA

Urgent Action: Prisoner of Conscience’s Life at Grave Risk

Since his arbitrary arrest on 29 November 2018, Venezuelan labor rights activist Rubén González, 60, has suffered a series of health crises, but has never received adequate care. On 19 January 2020, Rubén González began experiencing a grave peak of hypertension, putting his life at risk unless he receives urgent medical attention. He is a prisoner of conscience and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

TAKE ACTION

IRAN

Urgent Action Update: Kurdish Iranian Man at Risk of Execution

Houshmand Alipour, from Iran’s Kurdish minority, is at risk of execution after he was sentenced to death on 29 December 2019 following an unfair trial. Mohammad Ostadghader, also an Iranian Kurd, was sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment in the same trial. Both were denied access to lawyers of their own choosing and say they were forced to give “confessions” under torture and other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

RUSSIAN FEDERATION

Urgent Action Update: Lengthy Jail Terms for Prisoners of Conscience

On 12 November, a Russian military court found Crimean Tatar human rights defender Emir-Usein Kuku and his five co-defendants guilty of trumped-up charges. After a protracted unfair trial, they have been given prison sentences of between seven and 19 years in jail. Emir-Usein Kuku and his co-defendants are prisoners of conscience and they should be released immediately and unconditionally.

TAKE ACTION

WORLDWIDE LABOR CAMPAIGNS

Support our current active campaigns

Germany

Ameos fires workers and refuses collective bargaining We call your attention to the conduct of the Ameos company in Germany. Workers at Ameos in Germany, a private for-profit hospital corporation, are demanding fair wages, secured by a collective bargaining agreement. In the federal country of Sachsen-Anhalt in the east of Germany, for example nurses receive up to 500 EUR less than comparable employees in other hospitals. But Ameos refuses to sign a collective bargaining agreement with the union, Please support their efforts for labor justice.

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update January 23-29

Our featured image shows our beloved Miriam (1947-2012) a great friend and 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 call your attention to the Amazon Conservation Team. Their mission statement makers their activities clear:

“The Amazon Conservation Team (ACT) was founded in 1996 by the world-renowned ethnobotanist Dr. Mark J. Plotkin and noted Costa Rican conservationist Liliana Madrigal. Observing the lack of attention paid to indigenous rainforests, comprising over 25% of the Amazon basin, Dr. Plotkin and Ms. Madrigal created an organization based on a unique strategy: biocultural conservation, which rests on the conviction that the people who best know, use, and protect biodiversity are the indigenous people who live in tropical forests. By partnering with indigenous tribes to map, manage, and protect the most isolated rainforest regions, ACT protects the biodiversity, culture, and health of the Amazon’s ecosystem-the flora, the fauna, and the people. ” They are rated highly by Charity Navigator. In view of what is happening in the Amazon region today, a donation to this body is very important.

Wings for Special Kids.


We are adding a call to support Krembo Wings, an Israeli non-profit organization which brings children with and without disabilities together for weekly social activities in its branches across Israel. Krembo Wings serves children and youth of all backgrounds and reflects the diverse make-up of Israeli society. Krembo Wings motto is Together Creating a Meaningful Place for Everyone. The society provides a warm and friendly environment for children and adults who have special needs. This call will be a permanent feature of this blog. Please donate to this worthy cause,


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.

A major calamity for indigenous people is eviction from their lands in the name of conservation. We know that tribal people are the best conservators of their environment. We are repeating our call on their behalf. Please raise your voice for them.

THE STRUGGLE AGAINST SLAVERY

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

tackling-modern-slavery-preview


Look for these logos:

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 see for yourself the extent of modern slavery.

URGENT ACTION CASES

UZBEKISTAN

Urgent Action Victory! Nafosat Olloshkurova Released


Uzbekistani blogger and human rights defender Nafosat Olloshkurova was released from a psychiatric institution on 28 December. She was violently detained by police on 23 September 2019 while monitoring and reporting about a peaceful protest. On 26 September she was placed in a psychiatric institution and subjected to medical treatment without her consent. Nafosat Olloshkurova should have never been deprived of her freedom in retaliation for her legitimate human rights work.

NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUESTED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT APPEALS.

Nafosat Olloshkurova, a blogger and human rights defender from Uzbekistan, was released on 28 December and was able to join her family in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital.

Nafosat Olloshkurova was one of 14 people given administrative detention after police broke up a peaceful protest march from Khorezm to Tashkent on 23 September 2019. She had been monitoring the march and covering developments on Facebook under her pen name Shabnam Olloshkurova. She was filming the police’s intervention during the protest when they detained and beat her. On 26 September, Nafosat Olloshkurova was forcibly placed in a psychiatric hospital in Urgench, western Uzkbekistan, after a police officer claimed she had “attempted suicide”. On 30 September, the administrative court of Urgench approved the Prosecutor’s Office’s request to transfer her to the psychiatric hospital for two months. On 28 November, the court decided to extend her detention in the psychiatric hospital until 27 December.

On 27 December a panel of psychiatrists reviewed her case and decided to release her from the psychiatric hospital. Despite her release, Nafosat Olloshkurova will remain under psychiatric observation.

Nafosat Olloshkurova was targeted for her legitimate human rights work and should have never been deprived of her freedom or subjected to medical treatment against her will.

HONDURAS

Urgent Action Victory! Rio Blanco Land Defenders’ Protection Extended


Members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) reviewed and agreed on new protection measures with the Honduran government, including for Rosalina Dominguez, member of the Río Blanco community who faced threats in 2019.

NO FURTHER ACTION IS REQUESTED. MANY THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT APPEALS.On 16 July 2019, COPINH told Amnesty International that members of the community of Río Blanco, Intibucá, Honduras, saw their food crop intentionally destroyed affecting 25 families. The attack took place in the same area where Rosalina Dominguez, her four sons, and two other members of the community of Río Blanco were threatened last 30 April and 1 May 2019 by a group of at least seven people, one of them armed. COPINH called on the Honduran government to investigate these threats and guarantee their safety given the history of attacks against this community fighting against the construction of Agua Zarca dam in the Gualcarque River.

In September 2019, members of COPINH and representatives of the Honduran Protection Mechanism held a meeting to discuss their protection measures, in accordance with the precautionary measures granted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, MC-112-16. The protection mechanism and COPINH reviewed these measures and agreed on new ones, taking into consideration the latest attacks on members of Río Blanco in Intibucá. For security reasons, it is not possible to disclose which protection measures have been taken and which ones remain outstanding so far.

We believe that the public campaign on behalf of COPINH, including appeals sent by Amnesty International members, contributed to these positive developments. Amnesty International continues to monitor the situation and will work with COPINH to ensure all the protection measures that have been committed to are implemented and the attacks investigated and will react if further action is required.

GREECE

Urgent Action: Grant Asylum-Seekers and Migrant Children Healthcare

Since July 2019 asylum-seekers and children of irregular migrants are prevented from accessing the public health system in Greece. An asylum law introduced in November has regulated the issue but implementing measures are still lacking, putting the life and health of thousands of children and adults at risk.

TAKE ACTION

EQUATORIAL GUINEA

Urgent Action Update: Human Rights Defender Held Incommunicado

Human rights defender Joaquín Elo Ayeto continues to be detained in Black Beach Prison, in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. He has been detained since 25 February 2019, when he was arrested in his home in Malabo. Joaquín was tried for defamation and threats against the President on 21 November 2019. Almost two months later, the sentence has not yet been read. On 2 January 2020, without any official notification or apparent cause, Joaquín was transferred to an incommunicado cell of the prison.

TAKE ACTION

EGYPT

Urgent Action: Three Journalists Arbitrarily Detained

Sola

On 26 November 2019, plainclothes police officers arbitrarily arrested journalists Solafa Magdy, Hossam el-Sayed and Mohamed Salah from a cafe in Dokki, Cairo. They confiscated their mobile phones, laptops and car. A day later, State Security prosecutors detained Solafa and Mohamed pending investigation on charges of “joining a terrorist group” and “spreading false news”, while Hossam was accused of “membership in a terrorist group.” In detention, NSA officers beat Solafa on her right arm and side for refusing to give them access to her mobile phone. The prosecutor renewed their detention for 15 days pending investigations.

TAKE ACTION

TURKEY

Stop the attack on rights at Cargill Turkey – Reinstate #TheCargill14 now!

Fourteen union activists have been continually protesting after being unfairly dismissed from their jobs on April 17, 2018 while organizing a union at Cargill-Turkey’s corn-milling facility in Bursa-Orhangazi.

This is not the first time Cargill management in Turkey has fired workers for attempting to exercise their rights. In 2015, a court ruled that workers were unfairly dismissed for trying to organize a union at the same plant. Turkey’s legal system, however, offers an escape route: as an alternative to reinstating workers who are sacked for forming or joining a union, companies can pay compensation. Cargill opted to pay for its human rights violations rather than reinstate the victimized workers.

TAKE ACTION

Prometheus and Pandora XXIV

Our featured image shows Prometheus bringing fire to humanity. Was it a good idea?

IN MEMORIAM

Jessye Norman September 15, 1945 – September 30, 2019

This great opera singer died last month of septic shock and
multiple organ failure, age 74. She won four Grammy Awards and the
National Medal of Arts. Norman made her operatic debut as Elisabeth
in Richard Wagner’s Tannhäuser in 1969 in Berlin and went on to
multiple prominent roles, including the title role in “Aïda” in
productions in Berlin and Milan, the role of Cassandra in Hector
Berlioz’s “Les Troyens,” and at the Metropolitan Opera in Arnold
Schoenberg’s “Erwartung,” among many others.

She performed the work of many composers throughout her career —
including Schubert, Mahler, Wagner, Brahms, Satie and others — and
by the 1980s was widely recognized as one of the leading sopranos
in the world. She sang an unusual range of roles and is reputed to
have said the pigeon holes belong to pigeons.

Among the numerous honors bestowed upon Norman were: Musical
America ‘s musician of the year, 1982; honorary doctorates from
Howard University (1982), Boston Conservatory of Music (1984),
University of the South (1984), and Harvard University (1998). She
was given the honor of being named Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts
et des Lettres from the French government, 1984. She also received
awards for many of her recordings.

A detailed obituary can be found in the NYTimes.

ELIJAH E. CUMMINGS January 18, 1951 – October 17, 2019

House Oversight chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) urged Congress April 2 to support issuing subpoenas over Trump administration security clearances. (The Washington Post)

Elijah E. Cummings, a Democratic congressman from Maryland who
gained national attention for his principled stands on politically
charged issues in the House, his calming effect on anti-police
riots in Baltimore, and his forceful opposition to the presidency
of Donald Trump, died Oct. 17 at a hospice center in Baltimore. He
was 68.

He campaigned tirelessly for stricter gun control laws and help for those addicted to
drugs. But it was as chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and
Reform — the panel charged with maintaining integrity in government
— that Mr. Cummings may have left his most lasting legacy. The
position gave him sweeping power to investigate Mr. Trump and his
administration, and he used it.

He was born to a family of Southern sharecroppers and Baptist
preachers,and grew up in the racially fractured Baltimore of the
1950s and 1960s. At 11, he helped integrate a local swimming pool
while being attacked with bottles and rocks. “Perry Mason,” the
popular TV series about a fictional defense lawyer, inspired him to
enter the legal profession. “Many young men in my neighborhood were
going to reform school,”
he told the East Texas Review. “Though I
didn’t completely know what reform school was, I knew that Perry
Mason won a lot of cases. I also thought that these young men
probably needed lawyers.”

A summary of his life and career may be found in Heavy.

He had an adversarial relationship with Trump. In an interview with
The Times in May, Mr. Cummings was asked what message he would like
to send to the president.

“I want to send a message that we have one life to live, Mr.
President,”
he replied. “This is no dress rehearsal. And that the
American people simply want to live their lives without fear of
their leaders. And we, as leaders, have a duty and a responsibility
to keep our promise to them when we ran for office and won — and
that is to make their lives better. While we’re all on this earth,
that’s my message.”

Detailed obituaries can be found in the NYTimes and the Washington
Post.

RANT ABOUT A CONSPIRACY OF SILENCE.

Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies, and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators

By Ronan Farrow

Little, Brown and Company, 448 pages, $30

In their last blog Pandora and Prometheus ranted about the lack of male accountability when an unwanted and unexpected pregnancy pops up in the wake of a romantic fling. Now they would like to address the question of accountability when the higher echelons of a major corporation close ranks to protect the sexual predators in their midst. Two years ago Ronan Farrow writing in the New Yorker and his colleagues at the New York Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey shared a Pulitzer prize for exposing the deep sexual corruption in the entertainment industry. Now they have all come out with books, Kantor and Twohey with She Said and Farrow with Capture and Kill.

Farrow, like his New York Times peers, has chosen to frame his narrative around his own journalistic project — how he came to publish the blockbuster story of movie producer Harvey Weinstein’s serial sexual predation. But unlike Kantor and Twohey’s triumphal tale of working within a supportive news organization, much of Farrow’s story is about working against the news network, NBC, where he was employed as an on-air investigative journalist and where he did much of his reporting on Weinstein, though that reporting would never air. (He eventually published in The New Yorker.

Farrow’s book is reviewed in detail in the Cut by Rebecca Traister who points out the lethal level of corruption at NBCU. In her view, the detailed individual cases, such as rape of Brooke Nevils by a senior executive, Matt Lauer, are not the main disclosure. As Traister puts it-“Rather, it’s the whole, intricate puzzle Farrow puts together, with astounding reportorial reach and detail: a weave of phone conversations, texts, in-person meetings, the exchange of gifts and information between powerful people in network news, magazines, law firms, and politics — all, Farrow suggests, in service of the protection of powerful men and the suppression of stories about the harm that they’ve done.”

The revelation in Catch and Kill is not that there are corrupt people; it is that corrupt people are in control of our media, politics, and entertainment and that, in fact, many of them remain in control — two years after the mass eruption of stories of harassment and assault that Farrow played a big part in precipitating.

l

Andrew Lack, Matt Lauer, and Noah Oppenheim. Photo: George Pimentel/WireImage/Getty Images

A major step forward was announced recently by Rachel Maddow, an MSNBC host, who produced a statement from NBCU management releasing all women who signed non-disclosure agreements from their commitment. Maddow produced the document minutes before interviewing Ronan Farrow on her program. She quoted her bosses whom she was busy busting “We very much wanted to break this story, which is why we assigned it and supported it editorially and financially for seven months. We are profoundly disappointed that we weren’t able to do so,” recited Maddow. “This story,” of course, was the story of the sexual harassment and abuse by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein — an investigation that Farrow had tried to complete under the roof of NBC News, but the network either blinked (Farrow’s version) or couldn’t broadcast the weak tea that was presented to it (NBC News’ version).

In his interview with Maddow, Farrow said he knew of women who felt “constrained” and “agonized” over their nondisclosure and nondisparagement agreements with NBC News, adding that he expected the company’s new statement “would go a long way” toward encouraging other women to come forward with claims of misconduct.

Prometheus and Pandora think that what is most troubling is that while a few lambs were sent to the slaughter, the media giants are still continuing their corporate culture.

OUR BEST WISHES FOR JOHN LEWIS

Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights icon, has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer, according to a press release from his office. We all wish him success in his struggle with the deadly illness. Many prominent people are praying for him, but we seriously doubt the efficacy of prayer and tend to agree with Ambrose Bierce about prayer. We certainly agree with Mike Lukovich in hoping for the best.

For the record Edmund Pettus was a leader of the Klan and a committed racist. The bridge in Selma was the starting point of the march led by Martin Luther King.

CONGRATULATIONS

Prometheus and Pandora along with their amanuenses wish to congratulate Margaret Atwood and Bernardine Evaristo who share the Booker prize for 2019. The judges of this year’s Booker prize have “explicitly flouted” the rules of the august literary award to choose the first joint winners in almost 30 years. The chair of judges, Peter Florence, emerged after more than five hours with the jury to reveal that the group of five had been unable to pick a single winner from their shortlist of six. Instead, despite being told repeatedly by the prize’s literary director, Gaby Wood, that they were not allowed to split the £50,000 award, they chose two novels: Atwood’s The Testaments, a follow-up to her dystopian The Handmaid’s Tale, and Evaristo’s Girl, Woman, Other, which is told in the voices of 12 different characters, mostly black women.

While Margaret Atwood is a known and established writer, Bernardine Evaristo’s winning marks a milestone. She is the first black woman to win the Booker since it began in 1969. Pandora and Prometheus say cheers for the jury that broke the rules and best wishes to both ladies.

STUDY OF A HUGE GLACIER AND FEARS FOR THE FUTURE

Thwaites Glacier (75°30′S 106°45′W) is an unusually broad and fast Antarctic glacier flowing into Pine Island Bay, part of the Amundsen Sea, east of Mount Murphy, on the Walgreen Coast of Marie Byrd Land. Its surface speeds exceed 2 km/yr near its grounding line. Its fastest flowing grounded ice is centered between 50 and 100 km east of Mount Murphy. It was named by ACAN after Fredrik T.
Thwaites (1883 – 1961), a glacial geologist, geomorphologist and professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Reuben Gold Thwaites was his father.

Public Radio International (PRI) has published a detailed study of the glacier and its dangers in their program The World.

A view of the glacier

Melting of Antarctica’s massive Thwaites Glacier could add one to two feet of global sea level rise in the next 50 to 100 years, and unlock far more in the years beyond.

A voyage by icebreaker to the remote glacier’s face laid the groundwork for a 5-year international research effort to try to answer urgent questions about Thwaites’ future. The World’s Carolyn Beeler is our guide to the journey, with real-time dispatches from the ship and deep dives into the science and the stakes for our future.

We call this program to your attention and recommend that you click and open the articles. It is unsettling but essential to our awareness of reality. The scientist Bill Mckibben

Right Livelihood Award 2014 Stockholm 12/ 2014 Photo: Wolfgang Schmidt

has been one of the protagonists of the climate change issue for decades. This week he lays out the parameters and the dangers of inaction on the part of leaders. OTOH, people are beginning to react en masse and there still is hope for the future.

FILM REVIEW

The Irishman (titled onscreen as I Heard You Paint Houses) is a 2019 American epic crime film directed and produced by Martin Scorsese and written by Steven Zaillian, based on the 2004 book I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt. It stars Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, with Ray Romano, Bobby Cannavale, Anna Paquin, Stephen Graham, Stephanie Kurtzuba, Jesse Plemons, and Harvey Keitel in supporting roles. The film follows Frank Sheeran (De Niro), a truck driver who becomes a hitman and gets involved with mobster Russell Bufalino (Pesci) and his crime family,
including his time working for the powerful Teamster Jimmy Hoffa (Pacino) The film has won widespread critical acclaim.

ONWARD VOYAGER

The Voyager 2 spacecraft has left the heliosphere — the huge bubble of charged particles that the sun blows around itself — and is now in interstellar space. The exit took place in November 2018 and analysis of the data acquired has now been published

This artist’s concept shows the locations of NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft relative to the heliosphere, or the protective bubble of particles and magnetic fields created by our Sun. Both Voyagers are now outside the heliosphere, in a region known as interstellar space, or the space between stars. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

We have a special interest in the Voyager spacecraft since one of us (A) was a member of the plasma detector team during the planetary phase of the mission.

When the planetary phase ended with the Neptune flyby in 1989, our project scientist Prof. Stone of CalTech quoted from T.S.Eliot,

…Fare forward.
O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies Will suffer the trial
and judgement of the sea, Or whatever event, this is your real
destination.’ So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna On the field
of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.”

Indeed our Voyagers are faring forward into regions of space never before observed in situ by man made instruments. We hope to learn much from this foray into interstellar space.

SILLY TIME

Welcome to the new decade with Randall and Cynthia

We old codgers need to keep up with the times…

Happy new year indeed,

The Miriam Shlesinger Human Rights Action Update August 15-21

Our feature image shows our beloved Miriam, a great friend and 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”.
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CHARITY CORNER

This week we turn our attention to INMED Partnerships for Children. This NGO is a nonprofit international development organization that has worked in more than 100 countries to create pathways for disadvantaged children and families to achieve wellbeing and self-reliance. Through multisector partnerships and in-country affiliates, INMED builds sustainable systems that deliver innovative approaches to break complex cycles of poverty for current and future generations. INMED’s programs in climate-smart agriculture and aquaponics, maternal and child health, and economic development have transformed the lives of millions of children and their families since 1986. INMED currently has in-country affiliates in Latin America and the Caribbean and southern Africa, with its international headquarters and local programs in Sterling, Virginia in the U.S.A. 


One of our trained community health agents screens a newborn for #jaundice after a home birth in an impoverished community in Peru, using the Bili-ruler(TM), developed by @BrighamWomens. Part of the #Bilikit project to reduce the debilitating effects of untreated jaundice.

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.

CONGO BASIN TRIBES

Listen to tribal conservationists

“The forest is something that we have inherited from our ancestors. We are the children of the forest. That’s why we protect the forest”. Please act and donate for these vulnerable tribes.

Bayaka Man, Republic of Congo

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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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 child slavery.

URGENT ACTION CASES

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Human Rights Defender Sentenced to 12 Years

Huang Qi, founder and director of Sichuan-based human rights website “64 Tianwang”, was sentenced on 29 July to 12 years imprisonment following a secret trial in January 2019. The severity of the sentence is believed to be intended as a warning to other activists to stop work documenting human rights violations. Huang Qi continues to suffer from serious health concerns and without access to a lawyer of his choice or his family; he is at real risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

CHINA

Urgent Action Update: Uyghur Woman Held Incommunicado for 2 Years

Buzainafu Abudourexiti, who returned to China in 2015 after studying for two years in Egypt, was suddenly detained in March 2017 and sentenced in a secret trial to seven years in prison. No information has been provided about the charges against her, but it is believed that it may be part of a wider crackdown on Uighur students who studied abroad. Held incommunicado, she is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

Buzainafu Abudourexiti continues to be held in incommunicado detention after she was suddenly detained in March 2017 and sentenced in a secret trial to seven years in prison. There is still no information about the charges against her, but it is believed that it may be part of a wider crackdown on Uyghur students who studied abroad. Buzainafu Abudourexiti returned to China in 2015 after studying in Egypt for two years. She is at grave risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

TAKE ACTION

HONDURAS

Urgent Action Update: Land Defenders in Río Blanco Still at Risk

On 16 July, the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) reported new attacks that affected at least 25 families of the community of Río Blanco, Intibucá, Honduras, that saw their food crop intentionally destroyed next to the where Rosalina Dominguez, her four sons and two other members of the community of Río Blanco were threatened last 30 April and 1 May 2019. We urge the Minister of Human Rights to immediately guarantee the safety of members of Río Blanco and COPINH, and to further the investigations of any attacks against them.

TAKE ACTION

INDONESIA

Tell Chicken of the Sea to take action on human rights violations in its supply chain!

US-headquartered packaged seafood provider Chicken of the Sea promises ‘A Sea of Good’ and likes to talk about sustainability. Its products are well-known throughout the Americas. Like many US seafood companies, Chicken of the Sea sources products from Bumi Menara Internusa (BMI) in Lampung, Indonesia. And BMI is trying to send a brave trade union leader to prison for 6 years. Human rights violations are swimming in the Sea of Good.

Prometheus and Pandora XIX

Our featured image shows our protagonists as Pokemons.

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 Montserrat Caballé, April 12, 1933-October 6, 2018

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Montserrat Caballé on stage in Santander, northern Spain, in 2006. Photograph: Victor Fraile/Reuters

The great diva who conquered the opera world with her magnificent voice and commanding presence has died at age 85. She had a colossal career spanning decades. Few opera singers rocketed to fame more swiftly than she. When Caballé substituted for Marilyn Horne in the title role in a concert performance of Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at Carnegie Hall on April 20, 1965, she was virtually unknown beyond a few provincial European opera houses. After the performance—and a twenty-five-minute ovation—all that would change. Record companies stormed the backstage while the applause was still going on. RCA won.

Pandora and Prometheus are fortunate enough to have in their collection an operatic event that took place outdoors and was preserved on video—Norma at the Orange Festival in 1974, opposite tenor Jon Vickers, a white-hot performance  and one that Caballé herself regarded as a major highlight of her career.

Detailed obituaries can be found in the Guardian and in Opera News. We can all be glad that she did not heed what she was told at her first auditions in Italy. The Italian maestros who heard her in Milan and Florence advised the already buxom young soprano to return to Spain, get married and raise a family.

Her collaboration with a rock singer was a unique phenomenon. In 1987, the mayor of Barcelona invited her to provide a theme song for the Olympic Games to be held in the city in 1992, giving the BBC the music for its television coverage. For this, she collaborated on the album Barcelona (1988) with the lead singer of Queen, Freddie Mercury, whom she knew to be a keen opera lover and who called her voice “the best in the world”.
We would like to share with you her performance of the Puccini aria Mia bambino caro

 

RANT AND RAVE

RANT ABOUT THE PITTSBURGH MASSACRE

We cannot ignore the horrible event of the shooting of innocent people by a criminal in Congregation Etz Hayim in Pittsburgh. We honor the memory of the martyrs, the holy ones who were killed only for the “crime” of being Jewish. We lower our heads in shame at the totally inappropriate reaction of the Israeli government to the massacres.

IN MEMORIAM

Joyce Fienberg, 75
Richard Gottfried, 65
Rose Mallinger, 97
Jerry Rabinowitz, 66
Brothers Cecil Rosenthal, 59 and David Rosenthal, 54
Husband and wife Sylvan Simon, 86 and Bernice Simon, 84
Daniel Stein, 71
Melvin Wax, 88
Irving Younger, 69

Read the obituaries.

A Pittsburgh newspaper put the opening words of the Kaddish on its from  page.

 

We salute the members of the Pittsburgh community, Muslims, Christians, whatever, who have rallied around the Jewish community. Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Pittsburgh Islamic Center, says the Muslim community has raised more than $70,000 for the victims of the synagogue attack and their families. Mohamed said: ‘We just want to know what you need … If it’s people outside your next service protecting you, let us know. We’ll be there.’

Nothing, not even the massacres coming one after the other seems able to get the US body politic to enact civilized gun control legislation.

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Of course there are compelling political reasons for this:

RANT ON SEXUAL HARASSMENT

This section of our rants  will focus on sexual harassment by men in power and the culture of impunity that has always protected them. The recent exposures in Hollywood and New York of sexual corruption in the entertainment industry have given rise to a unity of protest and disclosure as exemplified by the #meToo movement. An online data base called Rotten Apples enables one to see if anyone involved in a show, film or series has been accused of sexual harassment.

Pandora tells us that this goes back a long way, to the gods of ancient Greece, such as the pursuit of the nymph Daphne by the amorous Apollo. Her father turned her into a tree to save her.

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Apollo and Daphne
By John William Waterhouse

Today, alas, no such miraculous means are available and powerful men have used their positions with impunity to pressure and harass female employees and colleagues. On the other hand mass media and the internet have played a great role in exposing and shaming them. We shall focus on a few cases in Israel and in the entertainment business in the US.

ALEX GILADY

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Gilady, who founded the Israeli television broadcaster Keshet, served as a senior executive of NBC in the United States in the ’80s and ’90s, rising to the post of senior vice president. He also sits on the International Olympics Committee. He has been forced to step down from his position at Keshet  in the wake of accusations of serious sexual misconduct. The claims are by Neri Livneh, a columnist with Haaretz, and Oshrat Kotler, a journalist on Channel 10 television. Livneh wrote a column that appeared on Haaretz’s Hebrew website in which she said she was contacted by Gilady’s secretary in 1999, who said that Gilady, then a top TV executive, wished to meet with her on the premise that he
had an interesting offer for her. She eventually found herself at his home where Gilady exposed his penis to her, saying “Talk to it.” Livneh alleged that many people were aware of sexual misconduct of this kind committed by Gilady but preferred not to make it public. She described the incident on a women’s program in 1999 but had been asked not to mention Gilady’s name for legal reasons, Livneh says.

Kotler alleged that Gilady, then CEO of Keshet, made an “indecent proposition” when she met with him for a job interview. When she told him that she was married, he responded: “What has that got to do with it? Don’t you know how they get ahead in television in Hollywood?”

Other women have come out with allegations against Gilady and his reaction has been to file a defamation lawsuit, although in the case of Livneh he has publicly admitted the facts described. We shall wait and see how this case works out.

DAN MARGALIT

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Dan Margalit is an Israeli journalist who has announced that he will cease all journalistic work after eight women accused him of sexual assault and harassment. At age 80 he is currently an op-ed columnist for Haaretz. His career has included stints as a senior reporter and columnist at many papers; he was also a popular host of several television shows. He is considered one of the country’s most influential journalists, with close ties to many senior politicians.
Orly Azoulay, a journalist for the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper,in October became the eighth woman to speak out and accuse Margalit of sexual assault and harassment.  Azoulay, 65, accused Margalit of sexually assaulting her in 1992 in the studio of the “Popolitika” television political talk show, which Margalit hosted and where she was a panel member.
Before Azoulay, seven women had come out with accusations of sexual harassment. Haaretz reported that five women had accused him over the course of his long career, and two more spoke out later.
Margalit is now accused of being a serial sexual harasser of young female journalists. It is regrettable that a distinguished career should be marred at the end by such disclosures from the past, but the victims have borne the pain for all these years and he does not deserve impunity.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN

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He was a extremely powerful Hollywood producer and a serial sexual predator who was brought down by Pulitzer prize winning articles in the New Yorker and in the NYTimes. The New Yorker articles by Ronan Farrow, a contributing writer, exposed the decades-long sexual predation by Weinstein and the complex system of private investigators, lawyers, and nondisclosure agreements that he used to cover it up. Two reporters at the Times, Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, first reported on Weinstein’s sexual-harassment settlements, on October 5, 2017. Farrow’s first article, a seven-thousand-word investigation published five days later, disclosed the first accusations of rape and sexual assault against Weinstein. Farrow’s subsequent articles exposed additional rape and harassment allegations.

Weinstein is now facing sexual-assault charges in a court in New York. According to law-enforcement officials, the charges against him are based on the allegations of several women although the prosecution seems to have encountered difficulties relating to the functioning of the DA’s office.

LESLIE  MOONVES

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Moonves was until recently the CEO of the CBS Corporation. He too has been brought down by the writings and actions of Ronan Farrow. Farrow reported in the New Yorker:

“Six women who had professional dealings with him told me that, between the nineteen-eighties and the late aughts, Moonves sexually harassed them. Four described forcible touching or kissing during business meetings, in what they said appeared to be a practiced routine. Two told me that Moonves physically intimidated them or threatened to derail their careers. All said that he became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result. “What happened to me was a sexual assault, and then I was fired for not participating,” the actress and writer Illeana Douglas told me.”
All the women said they still feared that speaking out would lead to retaliation from Moonves, who is known in the industry for his ability to make or break careers. “He has gotten away with it for decades,” the writer Janet Jones, who alleges that she had to shove Moonves off her after he forcibly kissed her at a work meeting, told me. “And it’s just not O.K.””

CNN reported that Moonves would step down from his position at CBS. Later the same day, CBS announced that Moonves had left the company and would not receive any of his exit compensation, pending the results of the independent investigation into the allegations. The company named six new members of its board of directors and said it would donate twenty million dollars to organizations that support the #MeToo movement and workplace equality for women. The donation will be deducted from any severance payments that may be due to Moonves.

Let us hope that the public shaming of these powerful and exploitative men contributes to the creation of a work culture and a social atmosphere in which women are respected and treated fairly

BOOK REVIEW/CLIMATE CHANGE

No Immediate Danger: Volume One of Carbon Ideologies by William T. Vollman Viking
No Good Alternative: Volume Two of Carbon Ideologies by William T. Vollmann Viking

The Most Honest Book About Climate Change Yet

William T. Vollmann’s latest opus is brilliant, but it offers no comfort to its readers.

This dystopian novel describes the world as it will be. He addresses a reader who lives in the future, under radically different circumstances—inhabiting a “hotter, more dangerous and biologically diminished planet.” He envisions her turning the pages of his climate-change opus within the darkened recesses of an underground cave in which she has sought shelter from the unendurable heat; the plagues, droughts, and floods; the methane fireballs racing across boiling oceans. Because the soil is radioactive, she subsists on insects and recycled urine, and regards with implacable contempt her ancestors, who, as Vollmann tells her, “enjoyed the world we possessed, and deserved the world we left you.”
In contrast to other writers about climate change, Vollmann holds out no hope and regards our attempts to mitigate as futile exercises. The two components of the book are reviewed together in the Atlantic by Nathaniel Rich. In a similar vein albeit in a different context, Gerta Keller, a Princeton geologist who rejects the asteroid impact hypothesis of dinosaur extinction, and attributes the mass die-off of 65 million years ago to colossal volcanism, compares what we are doing to our planet to the lethal effects of a series of colossal volcanic eruptions in a part of western India known as the Deccan Traps. The story of the huge controversy between the impacters and the volcano camp appears in the same issue of the Atlantic.

A WORD FROM SCIENCE

A most exciting discovery has come from the Kepler and Hubble space telescopes. A moon orbiting a planet that itself is in orbit around a star other than the sun, i.e. an exoplanet has been discovered. In a paper published Oct. 3 in the journal Science Advances, Alex Teachey and David Kipping, both from Colombia University, report
that the detection of a candidate exomoon — that is, moons orbiting planets in other star systems — is unusual because of its large size, comparable to the diameter of Neptune. Such gargantuan moons do not exist in our own solar system, where nearly 200
natural satellites have been cataloged.  Stay tuned, more will certainly be coming on this subject.

WHY SCIENCE, IN PARTICULAR BIOLOGY?

SMBC has the answer.

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SILLY TIME

What IF?

I understand that the New Horizons craft used gravity assist from Jupiter to increase its speed on the way to Pluto. I also understand that by doing this, Jupiter slowed down very slightly. How many flyby runs would it take to stop Jupiter completely?

—Dillon

More than we can afford. The answer puts things into perspective.

WE GRANDPARENTS DO OUR BEST

WUMO has a special for dog owners… Because of strict copyright rules, we only give you the link.

WHAT PRICE MASS EDUCATION?