Here is your latest open news thread. Each unique commenter will be rewarded with an easter photo.
Given the ages of Nelson Mandela, and Pete Seeger, I know we will not have them with us much longer. And of course we never know how much time we really have left. I am touched not only by the two great men I mentioned, also this woman here:
At age 35 Liuzzo, a high school dropout, trained for a career as a medical laboratory assistant at the Carnegie Institute of Detroit, 1961-62. In 1963, to further enhance her education, she enrolled in classes at Wayne State University.
Liuzzo was also active in local efforts on behalf of reform in education and economic justice. Twice she was arrested, pleaded guilty, and insisted on a trial to publicize the causes for which she was an advocate. Evans said of her friend, “Viola Liuzzo lived a life that combined the care of her family and her home with a concern for the world around her. This involvement with her times was not always understood by her friends; nor was it appreciated by those around her.”
In 1964 Liuzzo began attending the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, two blocks from the Wayne State campus, and, through Evans, became active in the Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). That same year Evans and Liuzzo drove to New York City to attend a United Nations Seminar on civil rights sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).
Liuzzo’s spiritual journey included putting hands to work. Unchurched as a child, she had converted to Roman Catholicism when she married Jim. Drawn to Roman Catholic mysticism for a time, she was later interested in Protestant evangelicalism. She sought personal relationship with a God active in the events of human history and herself wanted to make a difference in the world. At First Unitarian Universalist Liuzzo found a faith matching both her ideas and her longing to be of service. She became a full member on March 29, 1964. Many members of the church had been Freedom Riders. Daughter Penny attended the young adult group’s discussions.
I met this woman, who had an ordinary life and chose to do incredible things, during Melissa Harris-Perry’s show yesterday. I encourage you to watch this segment. It is empowering.
AROUND THE WORLD
28,000 rivers wiped off the map of China
The Times; Emily Ford
ABOUT 28,000 rivers have disappeared from China’s state maps, an absence seized upon by environmentalists as evidence of the irreversible natural cost of developmental excesses.
More than half of the rivers previously thought to exist in China appear to be missing, according to the 800,000 surveyors who compiled the first national water census, leaving Beijing fumbling to explain the cause.
Only 22,909 rivers covering an area of 100sq km were located by surveyors, compared with the more than 50,000 in the 1990s, a three-year study by the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Bureau of Statistics found.
Officials blame the apparent loss on climate change, arguing that it has caused waterways to vanish, and on mistakes by earlier cartographers. But environmental experts say the disappearance of the rivers is a real and direct manifestation of headlong, ill-conceived development, where projects are often imposed without public consultation.
Poor poor China. Missing all those rivers. and 20-50 million women. Wonder what else they are missing? And poor India, sharing a border . . .
Imprisoned, Tortured, Killed: Human Trafficking Thrives on Sinai Peninsula
Der Spiegel: Nicola Abé in North Sinai
The Sinai Peninsula has become a prison and grave for thousands of African refugees. They are kidnapped, imprisoned and tortured to death even after their families have paid hefty ransoms. But Egypt refuses to act.
Five people fled at night under the cover of heavy wind. Gusts were whipping fiercely against the hut they had been chained in. Their guard seemed to be sleeping, and the storm raged so loudly that they were able to use a rock to smash their chains without waking him. One by one, they slithered on their sides through a gap in the wall and out to freedom. “We wanted to either escape or die,” says Zeae, a 27-year-old man from Eritrea.
The five of them were barefoot and had only a few scraps of clothing on their emaciated bodies, which were covered with burns and scars. “We saw lights in the distance,” Zeae says. But two of the men were too weak to walk. They stayed behind, lying there in the desert, because the others were too weak to help them. It was hard enough just dragging their own bodies forward.
In the end, two young men and one girl reached the first of the houses they had seen. When a Bedouin opened the door, Zeae says, “I thought it was about to start all over again” — the beatings, the torture, the rape.
Cradle of Communist Party at centre of dead pig fiasco
South China Morning Post; Mandy Zuo
For decades, the river-laced city of Jiaxing in northern Zhejiang province has prided itself as the birthplace of the Chinese Communist Party.
In 1921, the party met secretly on a boat on the South Lake after their initial gathering in neighbouring Shanghai was broken up by French police.
Now the party’s cradle has acquired another, far less auspicious distinction: the origin of some 20,000 pig carcasses retrieved from Shanghai’s Huangpu River and other waterways stretching to the coast.
Jiaxing is the leading hog-raising centre in that part of China, and extensive media coverage of the incident has depicted a region of scattered, small-scale farms, where until recently carcasses pigs that died of disease or neglect were as likely to be sold on the black market for pork as they were to be hurled into the nearest river.
For context. Background. Etc.
Nusrat Begum files her filed nomination forms for NA 34 at concerned returning officer office. – Photo by INP/Rahmat Ullah Swati
Two tribal women, Badam Zari and Nusrat Begum, out to make history
Dawn.com; Anwarullah Khan and Haleem Asad
Two women, one from Bajaur tribal agency and the other from Lower Dir district, made history on Sunday when they became the first tribal women to file nomination papers to contest elections for National Assembly.
Election Commission officials told Dawn that 40-year-old Badam Zari, wife of Sultan Khan, filed papers for NA-44, Bajaur, on Sunday. Bajaur has two seats of the lower house of parliament.
Asad Sarwar, returning officer in Bajaur, confirmed the filing of nomination papers by Badam Zari for NA-44.
Talking to Dawn, Ms Zari said that she would contest the election to work for the tribal women’s welfare.
“I want to work for the betterment of women in the tribal area, especially Bajaur Agency, which has suffered immensely in the tribal system,” she said.
British army captain Badri Rai (centre) talks to officers of the Afghan police force in the village of Khar Nikah, Helmand province. Photograph: Anup Kaphle/Washington Post
Make or break time for Afghan forces as Nato prepares to take step back
The Guardian; Nick Hopkins
British commanders have warned that the war against the Taliban is entering its most critical phase as Afghanistan’s security forces prepare to fight the insurgency on their own for the first time without Nato troops alongside them on the frontline.
President Hamid Karzai is expected to announce that the Afghan army and police will shortly take the lead in combat operations across the whole of Afghanistan, and senior officers interviewed by the Guardian said the next six months – known as the “fighting season” – would show if the bold strategy had paid off.
In Helmand, where British forces have been based since 2006, commanders believe the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) will be able to cope.
If he cannot form a coalition, fresh elections could be held in June. Meanwhile caretaker Prime Minister Mario Monti has said he “can’t wait” to leave office. The political stalemate is delaying reforms that could help revive Italy’s recession-hit, debt-laden economy.
Mr Bersani’s Democratic Party narrowly won the elections last month but lacks the upper house majority needed to govern. Five Star, led by former comedian Beppe Grillo, won an unexpected 25% in the election and holds the balance of power.
“Only a mentally ill person could have a burning desire to govern right now,” Mr Bersani said at a meeting with Five Star politicians.
Today’s best headline and best quote prizes. 😉
US and Turkey discuss Iraq, Syria over the weekend
Hürriyet Daily News
The fragile situations in Iraq and Syria were discussed on March 30 during a telephone call between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Ahmet Davutoğlu, the foreign minister of Turkey, which shares a border with two critical Middle East countries, diplomatic sources told the Hürriyet Daily News.
On Syria, the discussion centered on the measures to be taken regarding a warning by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon regarding the Syrian government’s use of Scud missiles against rebel forces in populated areas and the possible use of chemical weapons in President Bashar al-Assad’s arsenal. On March 20, both Syrian government forces and rebel forces accused each other of using chemical weapons in the Han Ansal region, some 30 kilometers from the Turkish border.
In addition to the Turkish military’s conventional measures along the 910-kilometer-long Syrian border, three NATO-owned Patriot anti-missile batteries operated by American, German and Dutch soldiers were deployed to Turkey earlier this year to endorse the solidarity of the alliance. In answer to HDN questions, sources said there was no mention during the conversation of assigning a dual role to the batteries to create a safe haven for the rebels.
ACROSS THE COUNTRY
CESAR CHAVEZ DOODLE: Google criticized for not marking Easter; company says ‘it’s difficult for us to choose’
Washington Post; Michael Levna
“THE MESSIANIC quality about him is suggested by his voice, which is mesmerizing – soft, perfectly modulated, pleasantly accented.”
Those words were written not to describe Christ, but rather Cesar Chavez. They are from John Gregory Dunne’s book about the labor leader (“Delano: The Story of the California Grape Strike”), notes the Atlantic. And they get at the nub and the rub of the latest controversy over a Google Doodle.
Some critics say the California-based tech titan is snubbing a religious holiday by celebrating the modern activist. Instead of acknowledging either a spiritual or secular Easter, Google chose to honor on its home page – for the first time – the late United Farm Workers co-founder upon Chavez’s birthday. (Google last marked Easter with a Doodle in 2000.)
Stupidest thing about the Google/Chavez kerfuffle is that the conservatives would be OK if Google had a picture of some fucking Peeps.
– CamelToe McJughead (@StoopidProof) April 1, 2013
I cannot believe this is a thing. It was the first thing I saw on twitter when I came home from church. Do these people freaking out not have anything better to do today? If not family dinners or church events (hello EASTER), maybe some ball games or yard work? This is like Benghazi, in that persons are just looking for something to be pissed off about for their own political gain.
State flags on Mississippi buildings and grounds were flying at half-staff Saturday to honor the life of state Representative Jessica Upshaw. Governor Phil Bryant issued the executive order on Thursday.
Upshaw died Sunday, March 24, from what authorities say was an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. Her body was found at the home of former Mississippi State Rep. Clint Rotenberry in Mendenhall.
According to former Rep. Rotenberry, he and Rep. Upshaw were dating and she had battled depression for many years.
Followup on previous story. 2/3 of gun deaths annually are suicides. 20,000 people every year use guns to end their own lives. I am sorry this woman had access to such a weapon at such a vulnerable time in her life.
In the US a woman’s ability to have an abortion has been a constitutional right for more than 40 years. But it has become increasingly difficult.
In fact, states like Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota and North Dakota each have only one abortion clinic.
And this week, North Dakota’s governor signed the most restrictive laws in the country, making an abortion illegal at six weeks – before many women even know they are pregnant. Five other states are considering similar measures.
Earlier this month, Arkansas made it illegal to have an abortion at 12 weeks despite a veto by the state’s governor.
Outside looking in view. Or something.
HERE IN UTAH
Boy Scouts reject Utah Pride Center troop of non-gay people
By ray parker| The Salt Lake Tribune
A group of Boy Scout and church leaders have proposed creating a troop sponsored by the Utah Pride Center, aiming to include boys whose parents have opposed Scouting because of its gay membership ban.
The applicants, including a member of the Great Salt Lake Council’s executive committee, assert they are all “open” and “avowed” straight individuals.
But the council, through the national Boy Scouts of America (BSA), has denied the new troop application.
“The BSA is engaged in an internal discussion about its membership standards policy and is working to stay focused on Scouting’s mission,” Deron Smith, public relations director for Boy Scouts, said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Boy Scouts in Utah are a little different. While most troops are organized through the Greater Salt Lake Council, this is entirely 100% controlled by the LDS church. The LDS church uses the BSA to train young men. Strangely the LDS church does not use Girl Scouts to train young women. Anyway, there are a small collection of non-LDS troops organized at schools, other churches, and community centers, and their hierarchy goes through the national headquarters. Which is a bit less than 100% LDS controlled, but I am not sure by how much.
Changing your Facebook profile picture means something, but what?
Deseret News; Whitney Evans
J.J. Despain says he avoids conflict on Facebook as a general rule, but last week used the platform to make a statement.
When many of his classmates changed their profile pictures to the red square surrounding a pink equal sign in support of gay marriage, Despain decided to make a change to his own profile picture, offering a counter position.
The first-year law student at the University of Iowa felt compelled to speak out and the social media network provided a way for him to do that.
Despain changed his profile picture to a thumbnail image of The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a document issued in 1995 by the LDS Church that says marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God.
Of course, the LDS-church owned Deseret News had to write their own article about this. Of course. I did have a faint hope when I first saw the headline that it would be a silly AP article. My hopes are dashed. I am considering out-of-Utah retirement locations. No matter where my kids live.
Major league baseball season opened today. And more was right with the world. IMHO. Son and I read Summerland over the winter, and it helped ease the emptiness. Also a darn good read, or read-aloud. Baseball, hero mythology, Greek myths, and drama. And baseball.
In honor of Nelson Mandela, from Raffi, via twitter.
*** crossposted from the orange