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Abortion video used in fight against law change in Spain

UK Times global - Mon, 2038-01-18 22:14
A graphic video featuring aborted foetuses was shown to teenage pupils at a Catholic school as part of a campaign against the Spanish Government’s planned abortion reform.
Categories: GlobalWire, MediaTorrent

Paper review: FA chiefs 'urged to quit' and PM pledge

BBC UK Ed. - 55 min 50 sec ago
Questions over the future of the FA's bosses and Theresa May's promise to let EU nationals stay feature on the front pages.
Categories: MediaTorrent

IMG_6423

Minnesota Flickr - 59 min 31 sec ago

FlipSlidz posted a photo:

Categories: Minnesnota

Volcano-driven Climate Change Defeated Egypt’s Ptolemies

Informed Comment - 1 hour 3 min ago

By Steven Young | ( The Watchers) | – –

Around 245 BCE Ptolemy III, ruler of the Ptolemaic Kingdom in Egypt, made a decision that still puzzles many historians: After pursuing a successful military campaign against the kingdom’s nemesis, the Seleucid Empire, centered mainly in present-day Syria and Iraq, Ptolemy III suddenly decided to return home. This about-face “changed everything about Near-East history,” says Joseph Manning, a historian at Yale University.

Now, Manning and his colleagues have identified a possible reason for Ptolemy III’s trek back to Egypt: volcanoes. It’s a strange link, but one borne out by evidence. Massive eruptions, a new study suggests, can disrupt the normal flow of the Nile River by cooling the planet’s atmosphere. In Ancient Times, that may have led to food shortages and heightened existing tensions in the region. The research, published Tuesday, October 17 in Nature Communications, links eruptions not just to the end of Ptolemy III’s war, but to a series of violent uprisings and other upheavals that rocked Ptolemaic Egypt – an empire that extended over large portions of Northeast Africa and the Middle East.

The study creates a strong case that sudden shifts in climate can have big impacts on human society. And it’s remarkable, Manning says, for doing so by drawing on a wide range of methods and evidence – from ice core records to Egyptian papyri.

“That’s the beauty of these climate records. For the first time, you can actually see a dynamic society in Egypt, not just a static description of a bunch of texts in chronological order,” Manning says. “This is of absolutely enormous importance.”

This research is a product of the Volcanic Impacts on Climate and Society working group of Past Global Changes (PAGES), a global research project of Future Earth.

At the heart of that dynamic society was the Nile River, the lifeblood of the Ptolemaic Kingdom. This empire arose in about 305 BCE, not long after the death of Alexander the Great, and ended around 30 BCE with the death of Cleopatra. During this period, Egyptian farmers depended on the yearly flooding of the Nile in July through September to irrigate their grain fields – inventing systems of channels and dams to store the river’s overflow.

“When the Nile flood was good, the Nile valley was one of the most agriculturally-productive places in the Ancient World,” says Francis Ludlow, a climate historian at Trinity College in Dublin and a co-author of the new study. “But the river was famously prone to a high level of variation.”

In some years the Nile didn’t rise high enough to flood the land, and that could lead to trouble. Historical records suggest, for example, that a shortage of grain and the unrest that followed were behind Ptolemy III’s return to Egypt. And Ludlow had reason to think that volcanoes could be behind some of those bad years.

The reason comes down to a squiggly band of monsoon weather that circles the planet’s equator called the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ). Every year around summer in the northern hemisphere, this band moves up from the equator. That, in turn, soaks the headwaters of the Blue Nile River, a major tributary of the Nile. But when volcanoes erupt, they blast out sulfurous gases that, through a chain of events, cool the atmosphere. If that happens in the Northern Hemisphere, it can keep the monsoon rains from moving as far as they usually do.

“When the monsoon rains don’t move far enough north, you don’t have as much rain falling over Ethiopia,” Ludlow says. “And that’s what feeds the summer flood of the Nile in Egypt that was so critical to agriculture.”

But how often would eruptions diminish the river’s flooding? To find out, Ludlow, Manning and their colleagues turned to computer simulations and real-world measurements of the Nile River that date back to 622 CE. The team discovered that poor flood years on the Nile lined up over and over with a recently published timeline of major volcanic eruptions around the world. That evidence suggested that when volcanoes explode, the Nile tended to stay calm.

The team then dug further to see if that might have an impact on Egyptian society during the Ptolemaic era, which is rich in papyri and other written records. They include the trilingual Rosetta Stone. Again, the timelines matched: Volcanic eruptions preceded many major political and economic events that affected Egypt. They included Ptolemy III’s exit from Syria and Iraq – just after a major eruption in 247 BCE – and the Theban revolt, a 20-year uprising by Egyptians against Greek rule. The researchers then examined how likely it was that these events occurred so close in time to eruptions, finding it “highly unlikely to have occurred by chance, such is the level of overlap,” Ludlow says.

The volcanic eruptions didn’t cause these upheavals on their own, both Ludlow and Manning stress. But they likely added fuel to existing economic, political and ethnic tensions. For historians, “it’s like we’ve all been in a dark room bumping into furniture, and now we have a candle lit,” Manning says.

The results may also have implications for the modern era. Currently, Ethiopia is in the middle of building a humongous dam called the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD, on the Blue Nile. Tensions are already high between the nation and Egypt over how the water resources of the river will be distributed. A sudden change in climate, such as from a volcanic eruption, could make these “fraught hydropolitics even more fraught,” Ludlow says.

“The 21st century has been lacking in explosive eruptions of the kind that can severely affect monsoon patterns. But that could change at any time,” he says. “The potential for this needs to be taken into account in trying to agree on how the valuable waters of the Blue Nile are going to be managed between Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt.”

Via The Watchers

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Classics and Ancient History @ Warwick | Ptolemy I, 367 BCE to 283 BCE

Categories: IraqWire, Leftward Blogs

Is racial bias driving Trump’s neglect of Puerto Rico?

Informed Comment - 1 hour 6 min ago

By Lauren Lluveras | (The Conversation) | – –

The morning after Hurricane Maria blasted through Puerto Rico, I emailed my aunt to ask if she was safe. That was Sept. 21. I heard back from her on Oct. 10. She was fine, she assured me, but “Puerto Rico is destroyed.” After that, my tia and I again lost contact; her email had come through during a brief moment of cell service.

Nearly a month after the hurricane, Puerto Rico still is still struggling with a near-total information blackout. Some 85 percent of the island lacks electricity, and several remote mountain communities have yet to be visited by relief workers.

The death toll has risen from 16 to nearly 50 as lack of fuel, food shortages and infectious illnesses take their toll. Over 100 people are still missing.

The island is so crippled in part thanks to the federal government’s underwhelming early hurricane response. The historic storm played its role, of course, destroying homes, triggering mudslides and rendering roadways impassable.

But the Trump administration delayed dispatching military personnel and material relief until after the hurricane made landfall, and let the Jones Act waiver lapse, reducing the number of ships that can bring aid to the island. These actions have slowed recovery considerably.

Numerous commentators – including Ret. Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, who ran the U.S. military’s 2005 Hurricane Katrina relief operation – have criticized the Trump administration’s Puerto Rico storm response. Others have contrasted it with the all-hands-on-deck support seen by Harvey and Irma victims in Texas and Florida.

Based on my experience researching equity and inclusion in U.S. policy, racial bias may explain these disparate relief efforts, at least in part. Environmental disasters lay bare existing inequalities like prejudice and poverty. So in a place like Puerto Rico, where nearly 99 percent of the population is Latino, discriminatory decision-making can hurt the community’s capacity to recover.

An unflattering comparison

In Texas and Florida, the president responded swiftly, visiting these southern states in a matter of days. In Puerto Rico, on the other hand, President Trump arrived to survey the wreckage two weeks after Maria struck.

Likewise, while the president vowed to stand with Texas and Florida “every single day” to help them “restore, recover and rebuild,” he seemed to mock Puerto Ricans’ plight at an Oct. 6 Hispanic Heritage Month event.

Most recently, Trump even threatened to withdraw federal aid from Puerto Rico altogether, even though some communities have yet to see a penny.

There is empirical evidence that skin color impacts federal assistance. A 2007 study performed by researchers at Stanford and UCLA found that Americans are less willing to support extensive taxpayer-funded disaster relief when the victim population is not white.

Signs of racial bias in the current federal relief efforts go beyond Puerto Rico. The U.S. Virgin Islands, where 98 percent of the population identifies as black or of African ancestry, were also battered by both Hurricanes Irma and Maria, leaving residents “in survival mode.” The Trump administration has also largely ignored their suffering.

Separate and unequal

There are likely other explanations for why America’s Caribbean citizens are seeing such disparate post-storm treatment.

One is political clout. These two U.S. territories were inevitably facing an uphill disaster recovery process because – unlike Texas and Florida – Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands don’t have representatives defending their interests in Congress.

Partisanship is another likely factor. Facing historic disapproval ratings, President Trump’s agenda has also narrowed toward rallying his base. It’s predictable, then, that the president worked diligently to help Texas and Florida – states that supported him in 2016 – while neglecting Caribbean residents, who cannot vote in a presidential election.

But I would contend that the differential post-hurricane treatment transcends these political disadvantages and reflects racial bias.

Throughout the disaster relief effort, President Trump’s rhetoric has highlighted just how different Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are from mainland America. He has called the islands’ leadership “poor” and “opportunistic” and blamed Puerto Ricans for the financial crisis that’s now confounding the island’s recovery.

Trump has also railed on Puerto Ricans for “wanting everything to be done for them” and failing to contribute more to the relief efforts. According to the president, not aid workers but Puerto Ricans themselves should be out distributing food and water. I have spent a decade studying urban policy toward communities of color, so coded language like this raises red flags for me.

It is especially concerning given President Trump’s own problematic history dealing with race. On the campaign trail he antagonized the Black Lives Matter movement, and as president he defended the violence of white supremacists in Charlottesville.

Flint lives matter

Recent U.S. history also offers examples suggesting that communities of color are neglected when disaster hits.

New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina is the classic case study. After the city’s evacuation plan failed, black Americans were left stranded and desperate for up to 14 days while the federal government’s belated and dysfunctional rescue operation flailed.

Assessing the situation, rapper Kanye West famously went off script at a live fundraiser for hurricane victims, declaring, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people.”

More recently, in April 2014, residents of Flint, Michigan, a predominantly black community, began falling ill after the highly contaminated Flint River became their only water source. Community members raised concern about the foul-smelling water coming out of their faucets, and doctors alerted state and federal officials about elevated lead levels in the water.

Even so, state officials did not acknowledge Flint’s crisis until September 2015, after 91 residents had been diagnosed with waterborne bacterial illnesses. And only this year did the city finally agree to replace their water lines. The city won’t have clean water until 2020.

In short, though environmental disasters don’t see race, people do – and if bias influences the decision-making of those in power, survivors will feel it.

Puerto Rico’s demographics diverge from that of the U.S. general population, where just 18 percent of people identify as Latino and 13 percent as black. President Trump’s behavior seems to reflects that racial difference, whether he knows it or not.

Lauren Lluveras, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis, University of Texas at Austin

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

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Related video added by Juan Cole:

Democracy Now! “As Puerto Rico Faces $95 Billion Cleanup, Exposé Reveals Vulture Firms Who Own Its $74 Billion Debt”

Categories: IraqWire, Leftward Blogs

Burma: New Satellite Images Confirm Mass Destruction of Rohingya

Informed Comment - 1 hour 20 min ago

Human Rights Watch | – –

288 Villages, Tens of Thousands of Structures Torched

(New York) – Newly released satellite images reveal that at least 288 villages were partially or totally destroyed by fire in northern Rakhine State in Burma since August 25, 2017, Human Rights Watch said today. The destruction encompassed tens of thousands of structures, primarily homes inhabited by ethnic Rohingya Muslims.


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Complete destruction of Rohingya villages in close proximity to intact Rakhine village, Maungdaw township, recorded on 21 September 2017.


© 2017 Human Rights Watch

Analysis of the satellite imagery indicates both that the burnings focused on Rohingya villages and took place after Burmese officials claimed security force “clearance operations” had ceased, Human Rights Watch said. The imagery pinpoints multiple areas where destroyed Rohingya villages sat adjacent to intact ethnic Rakhine villages. It also shows that at least 66 villages were burned after September 5, when security force operations supposedly ended, according to a September 18 speech by State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi. The Burmese military responded to attacks on August 25 by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) with a campaign of ethnic cleansing, prompting more than 530,000 Rohingya to flee across the border to Bangladesh, according to the United Nations refugee agency.


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Ethnic Rohingya village completely destroyed adjacent to intact ethnic Rakhine village in Maungdaw Township, Burma.


© 2017 Human Rights Watch

“These latest satellite images show why over half a million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in just four weeks,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director. “The Burmese military destroyed hundreds of Rohingya villages while committing killings, rapes, and other crimes against humanity that forced Rohingya to flee for their lives.”


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Map of villages destroyed in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, and Rathedaung Townships.


© 2017 Human Rights Watch

A total of 866 villages in Maungdaw, Rathedaung, and Buthidaung townships in Rakhine State were monitored and analyzed by Human Rights Watch. The most damage occurred in Maungdaw Township, accounting for approximately 90 percent of the areas where destruction happened between August 25 and September 25. Approximately 62 percent of all villages in the township were either partially or completely destroyed, and southern areas of the township were particularly hard hit, with approximately 90 percent of the villages devastated. In many places, satellite imagery showed multiple areas on fire, burning simultaneously over wide areas for extended periods.

Human Rights Watch found that the damage patterns are consistent with fire. Comparing recent imagery with those taken prior to the date of the attacks, analysis showed that most of the damaged villages were 90 to 100 percent destroyed. Many villages which had both Rohingya and Rakhine residing in segregated communities, such as Inn Din and Ywet Hnyo Taung, suffered heavy arson damage from arson attacks, with known Rohingya areas burned to the ground while known Rakhine areas were left intact.


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Multiple villages on fire along the coast of Maungdaw Township, Burma on the morning of September 15, 2017.


© 2017 Human Rights Watch

The Burmese government has repeatedly said that ARSA insurgents and local Rohingya communities were responsible for setting the fires that wiped out their villages, but has offered no evidence to support such claims. Human Rights Watch interviews in Bangladesh with more than 100 refugees who had fled the three townships gave no indication that any Rohingya villagers or militants were responsible for burning down their own villages.

The Burmese government and military has not impartially investigated and prosecuted alleged serious abuses committed against the Rohingya population. UN member countries and international bodies should press the Burmese government to grant access to the UN-mandated fact-finding mission to investigate these abuses. The UN Security Council should also urgently impose a global arms embargo on Burma, and place travel bans and asset freezes on those Burmese commanders responsible for grave abuses. Governments should impose a comprehensive arms embargo against Burma, including prohibiting military cooperation and financial transactions with military-owned enterprises.

“The shocking images of destruction in Burma and burgeoning refugee camps in Bangladesh are two sides of the same coin of human misery being inflicted on the Rohingya,” Robertson said. “Concerned governments need to urgently press for an end to abuses against the Rohingya and ensure that humanitarian aid reaches everyone in need.”

Via Human Rights Watch

———–

Related video added by Juan Cole:

ODN: “580,000 Rohingya are now seeking refuge from Myanmar”

Categories: IraqWire, Leftward Blogs

Morning Fog

Minnesota Flickr - 1 hour 58 min ago

shawn_christie1970 posted a photo:

A westbound CP train breaks through the thick morning fog on October 6th, 2017.

Categories: Minnesnota

Catalonia: Spain ultimatum looms over independence push

BBC UK Ed. - 2 hours 30 min ago
Madrid is set to impose direct rule unless Catalonia's leader abandons an independence bid.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Spoonbridge and Cherry

Minnesota Flickr - 3 hours 34 min ago

RutasTrazadas posted a photo:

Categories: Minnesnota

Golden Divide

Minnesota Flickr - 3 hours 45 min ago

matthewdaugherty@yahoo.com posted a photo:

Autumn in Sandstone, MN.

Categories: Minnesnota

_DSC7596

Minnesota Flickr - 3 hours 51 min ago

The Curse Of Brian posted a photo:

An interesting car that came through in the almost dark.

Categories: Minnesnota

'He hid in a cupboard - we just couldn't get him to school'

BBC UK Ed. - 4 hours 10 min ago
When Evelyn and Tony adopted Ryan at the age of seven, his special needs were not immediately apparent.
Categories: MediaTorrent

_DSC7572

Minnesota Flickr - 4 hours 13 min ago

The Curse Of Brian posted a photo:

I hope I see this car in the light someday so I can get a good photo of it.

Categories: Minnesnota

Philip Pullman: Rules of writing from man behind His Dark Materials

BBC UK Ed. - 4 hours 24 min ago
The author gives his tricks of the trade to the BBC ahead of the publication of La Belle Sauvage.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Dare Not Linger: Mandela's book sequel launched in South Africa

BBC UK Ed. - 4 hours 30 min ago
The follow-up to the late South African president's celebrated memoir is launched in Johannesburg.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Brexit: May offers more assurances to EU nationals

BBC UK Ed. - 4 hours 30 min ago
Ahead of a key summit, Theresa May vows to make it as easy as possible for them to stay in the UK.
Categories: MediaTorrent

Mia Art Lucretia's Tears 20170708_141835

Minnesota Flickr - 4 hours 35 min ago

CanadaGood posted a photo:

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 1666 painting of Lucretia.
It illustrates the minutes after she has plunged a knife into her breast. Instead of worrying about details of lace and stitchery, Rembrandt concentrated on emotion and light.
Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 2017.

Categories: Minnesnota

Mia Art Lucretia's Tears 20170708_141835

MN Flickr - 4 hours 35 min ago

CanadaGood posted a photo:

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 1666 painting of Lucretia.
It illustrates the minutes after she has plunged a knife into her breast. Instead of worrying about details of lace and stitchery, Rembrandt concentrated on emotion and light.
Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 2017.

Categories: Minnesnota

Mia Rembrandt Lucretia 20170708_141826

Minnesota Flickr - 4 hours 35 min ago

CanadaGood posted a photo:

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 1666 painting of Lucretia.
Instead of spending weeks capturing every detail of lace, Rembrandt instead grabbed a much bigger brush and captured light and movement.
Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 2017.

Categories: Minnesnota

Mia Rembrandt Lucretia 20170708_141826

MN Flickr - 4 hours 35 min ago

CanadaGood posted a photo:

Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn 1666 painting of Lucretia.
Instead of spending weeks capturing every detail of lace, Rembrandt instead grabbed a much bigger brush and captured light and movement.
Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Minneapolis, Minnesota in July 2017.

Categories: Minnesnota
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