Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Archive for the ‘Good Things’ Category

Give the man points

Posted by Charles II on September 2, 2015

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian:

Pope Francis has opened the door for women who have had abortions – an act considered a grave sin by the Catholic church – to be absolved if they express contrition and seek forgiveness from their priest.

“The forgiveness of God cannot be denied to one who has repented,” the pontiff wrote in an extraordinary letter that was released by the Vatican on Tuesday.

“I am well aware of the pressure that has led them to this decision. I know that it is an existential and moral ordeal,” he added.

The order, which temporarily allows all priests to grant forgiveness to women who have elected to have an abortion and profoundly regret the procedure, is part of the church’s jubilee year of mercy, which begins on 8 December and runs until 20 November 2016.

Maybe they could extend the jubilee to just do what’s right all the time. But this is a big step forward.

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A real winner

Posted by Charles II on April 22, 2015

DemocracyNow:

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: As we continue to mark Earth Day, we end today’s show with a new report that finds at least two people working to save the environment were killed each week in 2014. In total, the group Global Witness documented the murders of at least 116 environmental activists last year. Three-quarters of them were killed in Central and South America.

AMY GOODMAN: The report is called “How Many More?” It looks in detail at an activist who stood up to a mining project in one of the deadliest countries and survived. Her name is Berta Cáceres, and she is another winner of this year’s Goldman Environmental Prize. This is Berta Cáceres describing how she helped organize indigenous communities in Honduras to resist a hydro dam on the Gualcarque River because it could destroy their water supply.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] In more than 150 indigenous assemblies, our community decided that it did not want that hydroelectric dam.

NARRATOR: Berta filed complaints with the Honduran government and organized peaceful protests in the nation’s capital. As her visibility increased, she became a target for the government.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] We denounced this dam and were threatened with smear campaigns, imprisonment and murder. But nobody heard our voices, until we set up a roadblock to take back control of our territory.

NARRATOR: For well over a year, the Lenca maintained the roadblock, withstanding harassment and violent attacks. Tragically, Rio Blanco community leader Tomás Garcia was shot by the Honduran military at a peaceful protest.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] Seeing this man murdered, the community became indignant, forcing a confrontation. The company was told that they had to get out.

PROTESTER: [translated] We have 500 people here, and we are Rio Blanco comrades. We will defend Rio Banco, and we will not let them pass.

BERTA CÁCERES: [translated] And that is how Sinohydro left Rio Blanco. But it cost us in blood.

AMY GOODMAN: Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, who won the 2015 Goldman Prize, as well. For more, we’re joined by Billy Kyte, campaigner for Global Witness, author of their new report, “How Many More?

AMY GOODMAN: Can you tell us a little more about the 2015 Goldman Prize winner who we just played a clip of, Berta Cáceres, and her significance and what she’s doing in Honduras?

BILLY KYTE: Well, she’s an emblematic case. I mean, she’s a very courageous activist. She fights for indigenous rights, but also women’s rights, as well. Her leadership in COPINH, indigenous network in Honduras, has been inspirational for many, many people. She’s suffered threats against her life. Two of her children have had to flee the country because of these threats. She continues to receive threats. Even recently, she received attempted plans to kidnap her. And despite this, she still struggles on with the fight to protect indigenous areas and the rivers of the Rio Blanco community.

Berta Caceres was one of the strongest resisters of the 2009 coup. She is a real winner.

Posted in Good Causes, Good Things, Honduras | Comments Off on A real winner

What I love about America

Posted by Charles II on April 6, 2015

Image from HuffPo

Alan Yuhas, The Guardian:

The New York parks department on Monday removed a large bust of Edward Snowden that was installed in a Brooklyn park, shortly after covering it up with a tarp and thwarting the artists’ stated intent “to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies”.

The Snowden bust still stood at Fort Greene Park’s Prison Ship Martyrs monument, atop a single Doric column. But it was wrapped in a blue tarpaulin, as city workers debated what to do with it.

The monument stands to the memory of 11,000 prisoners who died in British captivity during the Revolutionary war.

The bust, about 4ft tall and resembling both Snowden and former White House spokesman Jay Carney, was wrapped up by two park employees before noon, hiding the face and column but not the eagle statue that stands at its foot. A park ranger removed a plexiglass stand with Snowden’s name that had been placed at the base of the column.

The Brooklyn-based artists also wrote that they hoped passersby would “ponder the sacrifices made for their freedoms”.

“We hope this inspires them to reflect upon the responsibility we all bear to ensure our liberties exist long into the future,” they said.

What a beautiful protest.

Posted in Good Things, NSA eavesdropping | 1 Comment »

Radically green

Posted by Charles II on January 22, 2014

Sydney Brownstone, Co-Exist

In the future, leather shoes won’t come from cows. They’ll be manifested out of petri dishes, or in green chemist Richard Wool’s vision, divined from chicken feathers, flax, and soybean oil.

Over the past two decades, Wool has figured out how to turn chicken feathers into computer processors and soybean oil into John Deere tractor parts. His latest project aims to capture the attention of catwalk watchers: Wool hopes to commercialize a new kind of breathable leather that’s made without the environmentally destructive chemicals.

The Blacksmith Institute, a nonprofit environmental think tank, regards pollution from leather tanneries in Hazaribagh, Bangladesh, as one of the top toxic threats in the world.

Posted in environment, Good Things | 1 Comment »

Marcy Wheeler gains long-overdue recognition

Posted by Charles II on November 6, 2013

Via Bob Swern at DK, Pema Levy, Newsweek:

Experts on domestic surveillance admire Wheeler’s ability to connect current revelations to past mysteries. “You’ll read through these dense documents, and it’s about one thing; but she’ll find a clue in there to something we’ve all wondered about on something else entirely, and the last citing of that issue was five years ago, and somehow she still remembered,” said Barton Gellman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter late of The Washington Post who has worked with Snowden to break stories on the NSA this summer. “She’s indispensable now with the NSA story, which is endlessly complex.”

Marcy Wheeler getting recognition is a Good Thing.

Posted in Good Things | 3 Comments »

Good news on the anti-bug front

Posted by Charles II on October 10, 2013

This news is a little old, but I hadn’t heard it. David Heitz, Healthline:

A blood test developed by researchers at Duke University can predict with tremendous accuracy whether someone with, say, pneumonia has a viral or bacterial infection, even if it’s a previously unknown strain.

The test, described today in the journal Science Translational Medicine, could someday help stop the unnecessary prescribing of antibiotics to patients who have viral infections.

In the most recent experiment, 102 subjects with viral and bacterial infections, as well as healthy control patients, arrived at a hospital emergency room and were given the blood test. With about 90 percent accuracy, the test returned the proper diagnosis in just 12 hours.

In larger studies set to begin as early as this flu season, scientists will look at ways of paring down the number of genes the test analyzes and reducing the test’s turnaround time to as little as one hour.

Posted in Good Things, science and medicine | 2 Comments »

Bonddad has a new, paying gig

Posted by Charles II on October 2, 2013

XE.com has picked up Bonddad and his trusty sidekick, New Deal Democrat. Bonddad:

About a year ago, I received a communication from the website XE.com who wanted to add economic commentary to their website. We exchanged a few emails about the possibility, but the negotiations slowed at the beginning of the year. Over the last few months they picked up again culminating in our signing contracts with them to provide content. And the best part is we’re finally getting paid! On top of that, they have over 14 million hits per month on their website, so our visibility will increase. And we’ll eventually be doing podcasts. I’ll be doing one/week that focuses on international developments while NDD and I will be doing a bi-weekly podcast on the US economy.

Woohoo!

Posted in economy, Good Things | 4 Comments »

Wonders of the world

Posted by Charles II on August 17, 2013

Cucumber

Posted in Good Things | 1 Comment »

Grad students drub NSA + Oliver Stone on NSA

Posted by Charles II on July 10, 2013

This happened a week ago. Madiha Tahir and other students dared to ask recruiters from the NSA questions. Nick Wing of HuffPost has the recording.

You can read Madiha’s summary at her blog, The Mob and the Multitude.

RT‘s summary is succinct:

The agents that came to the University of Wisconsin seemed to be “entirely unprepared” to answer “basic questions” posed by potential employees, said Madiha Tahir, a PhD candidate at Columbia University currently attending a language program at the University of Wisconsin.

It is fixed to the bubble the intelligence community lives in. They are so disengaged that they think that they don’t actually have to answer any questions when they go out recruiting,” Tahir said. “They have never had to actually justify or even critically think about the work they are engaged in. They simply did not know how to answer the basic questions about the nature of their work,” she said.

I sure wouldn’t take a job with a company that couldn’t answer questions about allegations of illegal and unethical behavior.

Meanwhile, you can watch Oliver Stone, talking to The Guardian. The tone is kind of maudlin, but hard to argue with.

Posted in Good Things, NSA eavesdropping, wiretapping | 1 Comment »

To great surprise: Rios Montt convicted of genocide. History is made.

Posted by Charles II on May 10, 2013

Just about a month ago, the genocidal president of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina shut down the trial of the man who at that time was ordering the genocide done, Rios Montt. Now, via Meteor Blades at DK, some good news. Mike McDonald of Reuters reports that the trial concluded, and Rios Montt was convicted:

A Guatemalan court on Friday found former dictator Efrain Rios Montt guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war.

He was sentenced to 50 years in prison on the genocide charge and 30 years for crimes against humanity. It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.

Rios Montt, 86, took power after a coup in 1982….

Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye [actually, they said he designed the program] as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.

When our leaders say that can’t get things done, remember that the judge and prosecutor in this case have been constantly threatened. That’s what political courage looks like.

Rios Montt will probably never face actual punishment. He is 86, he has powerful friends at higher levels in the court system (not to mention Guatemala’s president), and it’s not clear that the American government is on the side of justice. After all, the genocide could not have taken place without the active help of Ronald Reagan.

But history has been made. For the first time, a mass murderer has been tried by the population he abused. Caps off to the brave people who used peaceful means to end and finally discredit Rios Montt’s violent reign.
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The inestimable Robert Parry reminds us that this makes Ronald Reagan an accessory to mass murder:

U.S. intelligence officers in the region also kept the Reagan administration abreast of the expanding slaughter. For instance, according to one “secret” cable from April 1981 — and declassified in the 1990s — the CIA was confirming Guatemalan government massacres even as Reagan was moving to loosen the military aid ban.

On April 17, 1981, a CIA cable described an army massacre at Cocob, near Nebaj in the Ixil Indian territory, because the population was believed to support leftist guerrillas. A CIA source reported that “the social population appeared to fully support the guerrillas” and “the soldiers were forced to fire at anything that moved.”

Despite these atrocities, Reagan dispatched Walters in May 1981 to tell the Guatemalan leaders that the new U.S. administration wanted to lift the human rights embargoes on military equipment that Carter and Congress had imposed.

What the documents from the Reagan Library make clear is that the administration was not simply struggling ineffectively to rein in these massacres – as the U.S. press corps typically reported – but was fully onboard with the slaughter of people who were part of the guerrillas’ “civilian support mechanisms.”

Posted in Good Things, Latin America | 3 Comments »

 
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