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Jul 22, 2017, 08:37 AM
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 on: Jul 19, 2017, 07:05 AM 
Started by Deva - Last post by Deva
Hi Wei,

Excellent application of E.A! What you have written accurately reflects the core evolutionary intentions of the Sun in the 1st house relative to the North Node in Leo in the 9th house. Yes, the Sun in the 1st house symbolizes the ability to continue to "move forwards" in new ways in any evolutionary condition which then becomes a vehicle through which the Soul actualizes It's personal truth (Sun in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house).

Hi All,

The next step of the practice thread is to add the sign of the planetary ruler of the North Node. In our example chart the planetary ruler of the North Node in Leo in the 9th house is the Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house. The sign conditions the expression of the house. How does the sign of Sagittarius condition the expression of the Sun in the 1st house? It re-iterates the theme of discovery of personal truth, alignment with Natural Law, and elimination of delusive beliefs. Self-discovery, development of the independent voice, and a new evolutionary cycle are linked with alignment with personal truth and Natural Law, personal honesty, and elimination of all delusive beliefs. In essence, a new evolutionary cycle is put into motion as the Soul becomes self- honest, discovers It’s personal truth, and aligns with Natural Laws as reflected in the manifested Creation. In so doing, all forms of dishonesty and delusive beliefs will be purged.

There is a vast difference between a “belief” and Natural Laws which are based upon principles that are self-evident within Nature and reflected in the manifested Creation. Natural Laws reflect actual knowledge, or truth, of something and does require a belief. As mentioned previously to illustrate this point, I do not need a belief to know that the sky is blue, I simply know it to be true. The key point within this is that the truth inherently exists in and of itself, and is not a product of intellect or belief. The Jupiter, Sagittarius, 9th house archetype correlates to the intuition. The intuitive component within consciousness knows what it knows without necessary knowing how it knows it. 

In the context of the Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, the Soul will require freedom and independence in order to discover It’s personal truth from within. The evolutionary need is to ask and answer the 9th house questions, what is “truth,” from within oneself. The Soul will initiate actions through which discovery of personal truth and alignment with Natural Law can take place. In this way, the individual can become their own teacher through the knowledge gained from direct experience instead of a belief. A new evolutionary cycle can begin as the individual acts upon the knowledge of Natural Laws as reflected in the manifested Creation. The sense of special destiny and creative actualization will be linked the new evolutionary cycle and discovery of personal truth (North Node in Leo in the 9th house, planetary ruler, the Sun, in Sagittarius in the 1st house). Conversely, the individual may act to recycle delusive beliefs of the past, and convince and convert others due to the emotional security that is derived from these beliefs.

Consensus State: In the Consensus State, this will manifest as development of the independent voice, and initiation of action relative to the discovery of personal truth as defined by the beliefs within the mainstream society. In this evolutionary state, the Soul will desire to advance within society through developing an independent voice within the mainstream that reflects It’s personal truth. This can then become a vehicle for creative actualization to take place (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house). For instance, the individual could become certified within a given field, and then put into motion a new way of teaching the beliefs within the mainstream. This then allows progression within the social strata to take hold. However, some individuals will recycle delusive beliefs and their “lot in life,” and creatively actualize in a way that reflects those beliefs.

Individuated State: In the Individuated State, this will manifest as the development of an independent voice with within an alternative field, discovery of personal truth as defined outside the beliefs of the mainstream society. In this evolutionary state, the Soul will desire to initiate actions in which liberation from the beliefs within the mainstream can take place. The individual will need freedom and independence in order to discover from within their personal truth outside the viewpoints and beliefs of any social group, and creatively actualize that truth. In so doing, a new cycle of evolutionary becoming that is based upon self-honesty, alignment with Natural Law, and actualization of special gifts within an alternative field can take hold. (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house). For example, the Soul could teach metaphysical or philosophical principles through direct experience and knowledge of these principles. This could then become a vehicle for creative actualization of personal truth within an alternative field to occur in a new way.   

Spiritual State: In the Spiritual State, this will manifest as development of the independent voice through union with the Source, and initiation of actions in which alignment with Natural Laws and principles as reflected in the manifested Creation can take place. In this evolutionary state, personal truth will be defined by Universal, Timeless principles that are applicable regardless of the passage of time. A new evolutionary cycle that is based upon direct knowledge and experience of these principles, and creative actualization that reflects Natural Law can be put into motion. For instance, the individual could teach knowledge of universal laws and principles in a new way that is based upon direct experience. Nature, and the natural laws therein, can become a primary teacher. In this way, spiritual development can take place outside the influence of any spiritual community or organization which reflects a new cycle of becoming (Sun in Sagittarius in the 1st house, North Node in Leo in the 9th house).

Please write out in your own words how the sign of Sagittarius will condition the expression of the Sun in the 1st house relative to Evolutionary State.



 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:35 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Auroras Light Up Uranus: NASA Shares Photo Of Planet’s Sky

By Elana Glowatz

The gorgeous streams of light in Earth’s atmosphere known as auroras are not special to our planet, and now astronomers are learning more about the ones on Uranus.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center has released an image of auroras flaring on that icy, ringed planet in our outer solar system, a composite made by images from the Voyager 2 space probe and the Hubble Space Telescope that is in orbit around Earth. They look a bit like lightning shocks, stark white against the planet’s blue atmosphere.

According to NASA, auroras bring swirls of light to our sky when charged particles, such as electrons, that are blown in this direction — from the Sun, for example — interact with gases in Earth’s atmosphere. Their shape comes from how they move when they encounter our planet’s magnetic fields, and they can be spotted in places that are nearer to Earth’s poles.

A similar process takes place on other planets where there are auroras, like Uranus, Jupiter and Saturn.

With the recent observations of auroras on Uranus, which NASA called the “most intense auroras ever seen on the planet,” astronomers are learning more about how they work out there.

“By watching the auroras over time, they collected the first direct evidence that these powerful shimmering regions rotate with the planet,” NASA said. “They also re-discovered Uranus’ long-lost magnetic poles,” which scientists had lost track of a few decades ago.

It may sound easy to find a planet’s poles, but Uranus makes things more difficult because it is almost orbiting on its side, with its poles pointing toward the Sun rather than perpendicular to it.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:29 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Egypt faces water insecurity

New Europe

Egyptian farmers along the lower Nile have little information to guide them as upriver barrage threatens to compound the impacts of global warming. While some blame Ethiopia, which is building a hydropower dam upriver, experts point to climate change and the demands of a growing population.

As reported by Climatechangenews.com, the Nile’s fresh water flow to Egypt may be cut by up to 25% over the next five or 15 years.

“Nobody is telling farmers how to mitigate and adapt to climate change,” said Magda Ghoneim, a socio-economist and professor of agricultural development at Ain Shams University. “Adding the pressure of a dam puts Egypt on the verge of catastrophe. Soon enough we won’t [find food to] eat.”

The challenges for farmers are myriad: new diseases and insects, unprecedented humidity, rising seas contaminating groundwater with salt. Indeed, when Abo Khokha tried pumping underground water to make up for reduced river flow, he found only half the usual volume, with a higher level of salinity.

A study recently published in Nature found that climate change is bringing greater variability in the Nile River flow this century compared to the last. In the Nile’s seven-year cycle of flood and drought, the former is becoming heavier, and the latter more extreme.

Egypt’s five million feddans (21,000 square kilometres) of crops consume more than 85% of the country’s share of Nile water. With an annual supply of 600 cubic metres per person, the country is approaching the UN’s “absolute water scarcity” threshold, as the population closes in on 100 million. Water is a sensitive subject.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:22 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Sweden mixes it up to fight inequality

New Europe

Sweden’s second city, Gothenburg, has launched a rather unique initiative to boost equality by mixing social classes, genders and ethnicities.

The city has opened “family centres” targeting support at the families who need it most.

As reported by The Guardian, Gothenburg, and Sweden as a whole, takes equality very seriously. The country, ranked first out of 152 countries in Oxfam’s new Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index, has long been regarded across the world as a paragon of fairness.

The Gothenburg mayor’s flagship programme Equal Gothenburg, promises long-term investment to create a more egalitarian city.

“For many years, we have had projects to fix inequality,” said Mayor Ann-Sofie Hermansson. “We’d take some money, we’d have a project in the suburbs, and then the money ends and the project stops. The idea of Equal Gothenburg is no more small projects: we should think about equality all the time when we plan.”

The centre-left has governed the country for 81 of the past 100 years, striving to be “the people’s home” – or folkhemmet – in which the social democratic state was like a family, caring for all and with no one left behind. Sweden became one of the most socially equal countries in the world.

Yet despite its reputation, even Sweden has had to acknowledge its own inequality problem in recent decades.

Last year, the United Nations children’s agency (Unicef) reported that Sweden was on a “downward trajectory” in terms of the life chances for its poorest children, a growing number of whom were “very disadvantaged”. A Swede with only a basic education can expect to live five years less than a university-educated compatriot, according to the country’s Public Health Agency.

“It is a very big problem and there are a lot of political questions,” says Michael Ivarsson, director of Equal Gothenburg. “You have to be very humble.”

In November, the city will host a special Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:19 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja

Turkey drifts away from NATO, buys Russian missiles

New Europe

Drifting away from NATO, Turkey decided with Russia the technical details of a contract that would supply Ankara with the S-400 Triumf long-range anti-aircraft missile system.

Turkey has agreed to pay $2.5 billion to acquire Russia’s most advanced missile defense system. The preliminary agreement sees Turkey receiving two S-400 missile batteries from Russia within the next year, and then producing another two inside Turkey.

Turkey has reached the point of agreement on a missile defense system before, only to scupper the deal later amid protests and condemnation from NATO. Under pressure from the United States, Turkey gave up an earlier plan to buy a similar missile-defense system from a state-run Chinese company, which had been sanctioned by the U.S. for alleged missile sales to Iran.

The news about the deal raised questions as to why Turkey, which is a NATO member and hosts a base for the military alliance, decided to acquire Russian missiles that are believed to be incompatible with the systems used by NATO.

The Russian system would not be compatible with other NATO defense systems, but also wouldn’t be subject to the same constraints imposed by the alliance, which prevents Turkey from deploying such systems on the Armenian border, Aegean coast or Greek border, the official said. The Russian deal would allow Turkey to deploy the missile defense systems anywhere in the country, the official said.

The S-400 is designed to detect, track and then destroy aircraft, drones or missiles. It’s Russia’s most advanced integrated air defense system, and can hit targets as far as 250 miles away. Russia has also agreed to sell them to China and India.

Turkey stepped up efforts to acquire its own missile-defense system after the US, Germany, and the Netherlands — all NATO members — decided at the end of 2015 not to renew their Patriot-missile deployments in southern Turkey. Spanish and Italian missile batteries remain in the country, but those systems are linked to the NATO air-defense system.

Turkey, which has the second-largest army by personnel numbers in NATO, has for the past several years had friction with the U.S., the bloc’s biggest military. No U.S. companies bid for a Turkish attack helicopter contract in 2006 after Turkey insisted on full access to specific software codes, which the U.S. refused to share, considering it a security risk. Turkey partnered with Italy instead in a $3 billion project to co-produce 50 attack helicopters for its army.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:14 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Trump had undisclosed second meeting with Putin, White House confirms

A White House official has acknowledged the two presidents met again informally after their bilateral talks at the G20 summit in Germany in July

David Smith in Washington
Wednesday 19 July 2017 08.45 BST

Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin held a second, previously undisclosed meeting during the G20 summit in Germany, the White House confirmed on Tuesday.

There was much media scrutiny of the leaders’ formal bilateral talks on 7 July in which, the US president later said, Putin denied allegations that he led efforts to interfere in last year’s US election.

Later that evening, Trump and Putin met again informally, a White House official acknowledged on Tuesday – but only after it was publicly revealed by Ian Bremmer, the president of the international consulting firm Eurasia Group.

Bremmer said there was a dinner that evening for the G20 heads of state and their spouses, though not all of them attended. “There were a lot of empty seats,” he continued. “Donald Trump got up from the table and sat down with Putin for about an hour. It was very animated and very friendly. Putin’s translator was translating. I found out about it because people were startled.”

There was no one else within earshot, Bremmer added, and it is not known what the men discussed. Trump was not joined in the conversation by his own translator, which is thought to be a breach of national security protocol. The White House later said that the translator who accompanied Trump spoke Japanese, not Russian, and that was why Trump and Putin spoke through the Russian translator.

Bremmer added: “It’s very clear that Trump’s best single relationship in the G20 is with Putin. US allies were surprised, flummoxed, disheartened. You’ve got Trump in the room with all these allies and who’s the one he spends time with?”

Such was the level of concern that someone decided to bring it to Bremmer’s attention. He said he had expected the White House to go public. “I sat on this for days hoping they would talk about it. I knew last week. It didn’t happen. I’m an analyst; I’m not in the business of breaking news,” he said.

There is no official government record of the meeting and it was not previously disclosed by the White House, which is facing investigations into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties by the special counsel Robert Mueller and two congressional committees.

“During the course of the dinner, all the leaders circulated throughout the room and spoke with one another freely,” a senior administration official said in a statement Tuesday night, adding: “There was no ‘second meeting’ between President Trump and President Putin, just a brief conversation at the end of a dinner. The insinuation that the White House has tried to ‘hide’ a second meeting is false, malicious and absurd. It is not merely perfectly normal, it is part of a president’s duties, to interact with world leaders.”

Also on Tuesday night, the president tweeted to say the news coverage of the “secret dinner with Putin is ‘sick’”, insisting twice that the press was aware of the dinner. While it is true that the dinner was well known and covered by the news media, the press at large did not know about the private conversation between Putin and Trump.

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!
    July 19, 2017

    Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

    The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!
    July 19, 2017

Trump’s presidency has been overshadowed by allegations that his election campaign colluded with Russia. Last week it emerged that his son, Donald Trump Jr, held a meeting with a Russian lawyer and Russian American political operative with a view to receiving allegedly incriminating information about Hillary Clinton from the Russian government. Trump Jr claims it led nowhere and denies wrongdoing.

Trump has consistently and mysteriously refused to criticise the Russian leader. Bremmer said: “I’ve never in my life seen a relationship between two major countries where the interests are so misaligned while the leaders are so buddy-buddy. It doesn’t add up.

“Trump has been inconsistent on his China policy, he’s been inconsistent on his Nato policy. On any foreign policy issue he’s been on both sides. Except Russia. It doesn’t make sense. The fact he was willing to do this in front of global leaders shows he just doesn’t care how America is perceived.”

The first meeting was scheduled to last 30 minutes but went on for more than two hours. During a flight on Air Force One last week, the US president said he raised the issue of election meddling twice and Putin denied it. “I said, look, we can’t – we can’t have – now, he said ‘absolutely not’ twice. What do you do? End up in a fistfight with somebody, OK?”


Other world leaders did not have a good reaction to Trump's secret meeting with Putin

Posted Wednesday 19 July 2017 10:00
by Louis Doré in people   

Reports emerged on Tuesday that United States President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin held an undisclosed meeting at the G20 in Hamburg during a dinner with world leaders.

Halfway through the dinner, Mr Trump left his chair and approached the Russian President, who was seated next to the first lady Melania Trump.

He then engaged in conversation with Putin relying solely on a Kremlin-provided interpreter, according to a White House official.

The news was first reported on July 8, through Alberto Nardelli.

    I am told that Trump and Putin had a "long chat" right after last night's #G20 dinner
    — Alberto Nardelli (@AlbertoNardelli) July 8, 2017

However, new concerns about the meeting have arisen as more details were disclosed by Ian Bremner, given the ongoing investigation into allegations the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the election in his favour.

Bremmer, president of the Eurasia Group, a New York-based research and consulting firm, told the New York Times that attendees thought the behaviour was strange:

    Pretty much everyone at the dinner thought this was really weird, that here is the president of the United States, who clearly wants to display that he has a better relationship personally with President Putin than any of us, or simply doesn’t care.

    They were flummoxed, they were confused and they were startled.

    The reactions from foreign leaders who witnessed the second Trump-Putin meeting https://t.co/zsrINuQbTF pic.twitter.com/7IH3slxBmU
    — Jon Passantino (@passantino) July 18, 2017

Mr Bremner described the meeting as lasting roughly an hour, an account not initially disputed by a White House official when asked by the New York Times, but later contested by Press Secretary Sean Spicer in a seperate statment:

    It was pleasantries and small talk.

Trump reacted to the news story on Twitter, of course, using quote marks egregiously:

    Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017

    The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!
    — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 19, 2017
Because the only American party to the meeting was the President, there is no official account of the meeting on record in the US Government, which caused concern to United States media:

    POTUS compromised. Kremlin has the only record of the exchange, free to doctor it or use it to nefarious purpose. https://t.co/rFqRaBZhrT
    — Strobe Talbott (@strobetalbott) July 19, 2017

    “The only version of the conversation provided to White House aides was that given by Trump himself” https://t.co/znVF4S43iK
    — Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 18, 2017

    Who said it was a secret dinner? Press knew about the dinner—not Trump's undisclosed mtg with Putin and no U.S. aides or translator. "Sick"? https://t.co/bQZ41x4u1F
    — Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 19, 2017

    It gets better. He made sure no other American heard what he said. https://t.co/KlXXOyHdW5
    — Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) July 19, 2017

    This is not a pull-aside. Not an informal chat: Trump-Putin meeting "nearly an hour", aide says
    — Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) July 18, 2017
Either way, jokes are being made:

    Everyone is overreacting to the Trump & Putin private meeting. Relax. It might have been Trump's performance review.
    — Jim Gaffigan (@JimGaffigan) July 18, 2017

    BREAKING: White House releases transcript of previously undisclosed meeting between Trump and Putin at G20. pic.twitter.com/WMvVIJWF1w
    — The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) July 18, 2017

    Leave it to Trump to interrupt story about his son Donald Jr.'s secret Russia meeting to announce his own secret meeting with Putin.
    — Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) July 18, 2017


Eighth person at Trump Jr meeting was accused of money laundering

Irakly ‘Ike’ Kaveladze, once accused of laundering more than $1.4bn, was a participant in the notorious get-together at Trump Tower in June 2016

Jon Swaine in New York
Tuesday 18 July 2017 21.30 BST

A Russian American businessman once accused of laundering more than $1.4bn into the US from eastern Europe attended the meeting where Donald Trump’s son expected to receive secret information from Moscow.

Irakly “Ike” Kaveladze was the eighth participant in the notorious get-together at Trump Tower in Manhattan on 9 June 2016, his attorney Scott Balber confirmed to the Guardian on Tuesday. Kaveladze’s attendance was first reported by CNN.

Kaveladze, 52, is an executive at a Moscow-based property firm owned by Aras Agalarov, a business associate of Trump who is also enmeshed in the controversy over the meeting during last year’s presidential election campaign.

Trump’s son Donald Jr agreed to the meeting after being told by email that he would be given damaging information about Hillary Clinton, their Democratic opponent, as part of an effort by the Russian government to support Trump.

The meeting brought together Donald Jr and two other senior campaign aides with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer with ties to the Kremlin, and Rinat Akhmetshin, a Russian American political operative and former military officer.

Kaveladze was in 2000 named by the New York Times as responsible for using about 2,000 shell companies in the US to launder $1.4bn from Russia and eastern Europe into accounts at Citibank and the Commercial Bank of San Francisco.

A report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) on the alleged scheme did not identify Kaveladze by name but confirmed the involvement of his company, International Business Creations. “It is possible that these transfers were used to launder money,” the report said of the transactions.

Kaveladze and Balber, his attorney, did not respond to questions on Tuesday about his alleged involvement in money laundering. Charles Young, a spokesman for the GAO, said he could not independently confirm reports of Kaveladze’s involvement.

Disclosures about the Trump Tower meeting have intensified concerns over what US intelligence services say was a concerted campaign by Russia to sway the 2016 election. Emails released by Trump Jr last week gave the first confirmation that the campaign at least tried to collude with that effort.

In the days before the meeting, Donald Jr sent an email eagerly welcoming the offer of damaging information on Clinton, which was described as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr Trump” by a go-between operating on behalf of Agalarov, the Russian real estate tycoon.

That go-between was Rob Goldstone, a British music publicist who represents Agalarov’s son Emin, a well-known pop singer in Russia. Goldstone, Kaveladze, Akhmetshin, Veselnitskaya and a translator were joined by Trump Jr; the then Trump campaign chairman, Paul Manafort; and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser.

All are likely to come under the scrutiny of simultaneous inquiries into the Russian campaign that are being conducted by two congressional committees and Robert Mueller, a former FBI director who is serving as a special counsel on the subject. Kushner, now a senior White House official, originally failed to note the meeting in paperwork submitted when he took his government job, which was illegal.

Donald Trump Sr and his supporters have tried to paint the meeting as an unremarkable attempt to glean some useful “opposition research” for the rough-and-tumble of national politics.

Numerous veterans of presidential campaigns for both parties reject this, insisting that the appropriate response would have been for the Trump team to report the Russians to the FBI.

Akhmetshin, the Russian American political operative, has said Veselnitskaya, the Russian attorney, gave the Trump campaign aides a plastic sheath of documents during the meeting, calling into question claims by Trump Jr that she offered “no meaningful information” and that the meeting concerned Russia’s ban on children being adopted by Americans.


Six ways Trump is 'dismantling' the US after six months in office?

Trump has been paralyzed on healthcare and tax reform, but his administration has been active in eroding safeguards and protections elsewhere

by Dominic Rushe, Oliver Milman, Molly Redden, Jamiles Lartey, David Smith and Oliver Laughland
Wednesday 19 July 2017 11.00 BST

Given all that Donald Trump promised the business world during his bombastic campaign it’s tempting to dismiss the president’s first six months with a “meh”. It would also be myopic.

While protesters are worried about the future, the president has so far failed to pass his tax reforms, which business wanted. But at the same time fears that his China rhetoric, threats of trade wars and Tweets about penalties for US businesses who ship jobs overseas, have not amounted to much.

The economic trends started under Obama have continued: stock markets have continued their giddy ride to uncharted highs, unemployment has continued to drift down and interest rates have remained low.

Trump’s overture may seem a little weak but the president has already made significant moves and still more may be happening in the wings.

Trump has ordered a review of Dodd-Frank, the regulations brought in to tame US financial institutions after they triggered the worst recession in living memory. He has appointed a sworn enemy of net neutrality over at the Federal Communications Commission who is now working to dismantle Obama-era open internet protections. He has freed up energy firms to start polluting rivers again and scrapped a rule which barred companies from receiving federal contracts if they had a history of violating wage, labour or safety laws.

After years of gains for consumer, environmental and worker rights groups, the pendulum is being swung the other way – but most often those changes are happening behind closed doors.

In March, Trump pledged to “remove every job-killing regulation we can find” and deregulation teams have been set up to comb through the statutes looking for rules to cull. A recent ProPublica and New York Times investigation found Trump’s deregulation teams were being conducted in the dark in large part by appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts of interest.

It’s hardly surprising given that the Trump administration has literally removed the White House visitors book, so we may never know who has been whispering in the president’s ear. Six months in, it is hard to tell what is being cut and by whom. We may never know the consequences of Trump’s regulation death squads until it’s too late. Dominic Rushe

The environment

In the past week, both Emmanuel Macron and Sir Richard Branson have claimed that Donald Trump has been gripped by regret over his decision to withdraw the US from the Paris climate agreement. But hopes that the US president will reverse this decision sit uneasily with the consistency of his administration’s environmental rollbacks.

In Scott Pruitt, Trump has an Environmental Protection Agency chief who understands how the agency works and how to hobble it. Pruitt, who has dismissed the mainstream scientific understanding of climate change, has spearheaded a concerted effort to excise or delay dozens of environmental rules.

Emissions standards for cars and trucks, the clean power plan, water pollution restrictions, a proposed ban on a pesticide linked to developmental problems in children, regulations that stop power plants dumping toxins such as mercury into their surrounds – all have been targeted with efficacious zeal by Pruitt.

The EPA administrator was also a fierce proponent of a US exit from the Paris accord, ensuring that Trump wasn’t swayed by doubts raised by Rex Tillerson, the secretary of state, and Ivanka Trump, his daughter and adviser. The US won’t be able to officially pull out until 2020, but the decision has dealt a hefty blow to the effort to slow dangerous global warming and provided a tangible victory for the nationalist, climate change denying elements that now roam the White House.

Elsewhere, public land has been thrown open to coal mining – an industry repeatedly fetishized by Trump – and oil and gas drilling is being ushered into America’s Arctic and Atlantic waters. Two dozen national monuments are under review, several may be shrunk or even eliminated.

In less than six months, Trump has begun to tear up almost all of the key planks of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda. This blitzkrieg is likely to slow now that it faces a thicket of legal action launched by enraged environmental groups and some states, such as New York. But to Trump’s supporters, the president, who pledged during the campaign to reduce the EPA to “tidbits”, is delivering on his crusade to transport the environmental and industrial outlook of the late 19th century to the modern day. Oliver Milman


Donald Trump’s bluster over his harsh immigration reform – namely the implementation of a diluted Muslim-targeted travel ban and a crackdown on undocumented immigrants – belies the cost these self-proclaimed victories have had on both the fundamental institutions of democracy and the most vulnerable communities in the United States.

Take the travel ban, which targets refugees and visa applicants from six Muslim majority countries. The president’s first failed order, haphazardly issued in January, provoked scenes of chaos at airports around the country – temporarily separating families, cancelling legitimately issued visas and propelling the country towards a constitutional crisis, before a series of federal courts intervened to block it.

After his second attempt in March was blocked again in the lower courts, the president, seemingly without care for due process or respect for the co-equal branches of government, threatened to simply abolish the federal appeals court he incorrectly identified as responsible for the decision.

Trump’s bullish perseverance on the ban, which has left many in Muslim and refugee communities around the US living in fear, has resulted in a temporary ruling in the supreme court that allows a much diluted version of the order to come into effect. Although the president heralded the decision a victory, the ultimate test comes in autumn when the country’s highest court will ultimately rule on the ban’s constitutionality.

The president has also moved quickly to supercharge efforts to round up and deport undocumented immigrants. By empowering Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice), the federal agency responsible deportations, to target essentially anyone in the country without legal paperwork, the number of immigration arrests has soared. Although the administration has celebrated this uptick, it has actually been able to deport people at a much slower rate due to the crippling backlog inside America’s immigration courts.

Trump’s attempt at a solution to this has been to create a network of new courts, attached to remote detention centers and far from the reach of immigration attorneys. The strategy, plagued with due process concerns, has enjoyed mixed success. But, once again, it is those most vulnerable – many of whom have lived in America without paperwork for decades and have no criminal history – who have paid the highest price.


First, the good news. Donald Trump has not started a war. He has therefore, so far, avoided the worst case scenario that some predicted for his presidency. One eighth of the way through his term, he does not yet have a stain on his record like George W Bush has with Iraq. Instead his Twitter spats with cable TV hosts and their indulgence by the media are a luxury of peacetime.

But in other, important ways, the US president has set about diminishing America’s global leadership role and diplomatic standing. He has emphasised the defence of America and western civilisation and downplayed democracy and human rights. He has warmed to authoritarian leaders in China, the Philippines, Russia and Saudi Arabia while going cold on Britain (still no visit), the European Union and Australia. His attacks on the press send an alarming message to dictators everywhere.

The world has noticed. A major survey of 37 countries by Pew Research last month found that just 22% of respondents had some or a great deal of confidence in Trump to do the right thing when it comes to international affairs. After his performance at Nato and G7 meetings, German chancellor Angela Merkel said pointedly: “The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over. I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.” At the G-20, he cut a lonely, isolated figure.

This damage could be undone relatively quickly but the “America first” president’s proposed 30% cut to the state department, where many top staff have left and not been replaced, threatens to be a lasting legacy. Max Bergmann, a former official, wrote in Politico: “The deconstruction of the state department is well underway... This is how diplomacy dies. Not with a bang, but with a whimper. With empty offices on a midweek afternoon.”

The outlier in Trump’s foreign policy came on 6 April, when the US launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at an airfield in Syria in retaliation for the regime’s use of chemical weapons against civilians. It was a move welcomed by hawks and loathed by “anti-globalists” in Trump’s support base. But the most urgent issue, enough to test any US president, is North Korea. There is little evidence so far to suggest he will succeed where others have failed. David Smith

Gender and equality

Trump’s White House has wasted little time erasing many of the changes that advocates for trans rights, reproductive rights and survivors of sexual assault achieved under the Obama administration.

The Trump team is in the middle of sharply reversing how the federal government enforces laws against gender bias. In February, the administration withdrew the Obama-era guidelines requiring schools to give transgender students unfettered access to bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity. And Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, may restrict the federal government’s ability to intervene when colleges and universities do a questionable job of handling students’ complaints of sexual assault.
Betsy DeVos at a campus sexual assault listening session in Washington on 13 Jul 2017.

Trump is also attempting to dismantle the nation’s public safety net for family planning, with an assist from his party in Congress. The president has signed legislation encouraging states to withhold federal family planning dollars from Planned Parenthood. The latest version of Republican’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act would eliminate the birth control mandate – which is also under fire from Trump’s health department – not to mention maternity coverage requirements.

Every repeal attempt has contained a measure to block women on Medicaid from using their insurance at Planned Parenthood – measures that would shutter scores of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. And the administration is poised to give the green light to states, like Texas, that axe Planned Parenthood from their Medicaid programs.

The White House also has aims to zero out funding for the government-funded Legal Services Corporation, which is the main source of legal assistance for women attempting to escape domestic violence, when Congress passes a budget this fall.

Finally, there’s US supreme court justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who observers say “has all the makings of an extreme anti-abortion justice”. Trump named Gorsuch eleven days into his presidency, fulfilling a longtime campaign promise to nominate justices who will vote to overturn Roe v Wade. Molly Redden

Criminal justice

Much of what the federal government can do on criminal justice is left to Congress, since most criminal justice happens at state and local, rather than federal levels. However, Trump’s administration hasn’t spared much time doing what it can to reverse a roughly decades long retreat from the peak of tough-on-crime, mass-incarceration dogma.

So far, efforts on criminal justice have been much more sizzle than steak, but the prospect of dramatic policy change looms just around the corner. Stuffed in a suite of executive orders signed in February, Trump commissioned a taskforce to make recommendations on combating “the menace of rising crime”, which has been an enduring theme of the administration despite being debunked by experts. That taskforce, which reportedly, and curiously, does not include police chiefs or criminologists is scheduled to make its recommendations on 27 July.

“If you’re going to see anything from the Trump administration proposing new [or longer] mandatory minimums and a general return to the tough on crime tactics, I think you’ll see those recommendations made by the task force,” said Ames Grawert, a criminal justice researcher with the Brennan Center for Justice.

It remains unclear how much support there might be in Congress for taking up such recommendations. As recently as December there was real momentum behind a bipartisan bill to make sentencing less punitive, not more.

In the interim, attorney general Jeff Sessions has instructed federal prosecutors to seek the highest possible penalty in every case, and has championed initiatives to push state cases for federal prosecutors to obtain harsher sentencing.

In another reversal from the Obama era, Sessions has also signaled that the DoJ will not use its authority to investigate or reform local police departments, even in cases where gross negligence, or rampant civil rights violations may be occurring. Sessions tried, and failed, to pause a consent decree negotiated in Baltimore after the Freddie Gray unrest, and his department has so far flaked-out of a similar effort that was slated for Chicago under the previous administration.

“We will not sign consent decrees for political expediency that will cost more lives by handcuffing the police instead of the criminals,” Sessions wrote in an April 18 op-ed in USA Today. Jamiles Lartey

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:04 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
First double hand transplant involving a child declared a success

Zion Harvey had procedure in US in 2015 and can now use scissors and play baseball, but report highlights his difficult recovery

Denis Campbell Health policy editor
19 July 2017 23.30 BST

After almost 11 hours of surgery involving four teams of doctors, Zion Harvey had earned his place in medical history. The eight-year-old had become the first child in the world to receive two new hands in a procedure that seemed to herald a revolution in transplant medicine.

Two years on, the sports-mad boy from Baltimore, Maryland, is enjoying the freedom and independence his new hands have given him. In the first medical journal report of Zion’s pioneering treatment, published on Wednesday, the experts involved declare the operation a success and say other children could benefit from the knowledge gained.

Zion had to rely on others after he had his hands and feet amputated aged two when he contracted sepsis. For six years he used a combination of his residual limbs and specialist equipment to dress, wash himself and eat – until the double transplant changed his life.

“At 18 months [after the transplant], the child had exceeded his previous adaptive abilities. As of 18 months after transplantation surgery he is able to write and feed, toilet and dress himself more independently and efficiently than he could do before transplantation,” writes the team from the Children’s hospital of Philadelphia in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health.

Organ transplantation is risky in that a recipient’s body may reject the new body part, while the drug regime involved carries a series of health risks. Two years on from the surgery he had in July 2015, Zion, now 10, is coping well with both.

“Cases like this demonstrate how new developments and innovation in science and transplantation have the potential to make enormous differences to the quality of life of patients,” said Lorna Marson, the president of the British Transplantation Society, which represents specialists working in the field across the NHS.

“Transplantation is a constantly evolving sector and it is heartening to hear the positive outcomes of groundbreaking transplants such as this one.”

More than 100 people worldwide have had a hand or arm transplant since the first adult received a new hand in 1998, closely followed by the first replacement of both hands in 2000. Many countries now conduct such transplants on small numbers of carefully selected patients.

In May 2000, a baby girl in Malaysia who was born with a severe congenital deformity became the first child to receive a new hand and arm, transplanted from her identical twin sister who died at birth.

In an update last year on his progress in the year since his surgery, Zion said: “The only thing that’s different is instead of no hands, I have two hands. I’m still the same kid everybody knew without hands.”
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Referring to his new hands, he added: “Here’s the piece of my life that was missing. Now it’s here, my life is complete.”

Within eight months of the operation Zion was using scissors and crayons and after a year he was able to swing a baseball bat with both hands – once throwing the opening pitch at a Baltimore Orioles game.

Dr Scott Levin, team leader for Zion’s 10-hour surgery, has praised his young patient’s bravery. “I’ve never seen Zion cry. I’ve never seen him not want to do his therapy. He’s just such a remarkable human being, let alone child or adult. He has such courage and determination and gives us all inspiration,” he said.

But the last two years have been mentally and physically hard for Zion. He has had huge amounts of physiotherapy and occupational therapy to help him adjust, as well as counselling to aid his psychological recovery.

The doctors write: “Since his surgery he has undergone eight rejections of the hands, including serious episodes during the fourth and seventh months of his transplant. All of these were reversed with immunosuppression drugs without impacting the function of the child’s hands.”

He is still taking four different immunosuppressant drugs to maximise the chances of his body continuing to tolerate the pair of new hands, though doctors hope to reduce the dose.

“While functional outcomes are positive and the boy is benefitting from his transplant, this surgery has been very demanding for this child and his family,” said Dr Sandra Amaral, a member of the team at the Philadelphia hospital.

However, in an accompanying comment article, Dr Marco Lanzetta, an Italian expert in hand transplant surgery, doubts that many children could tolerate a similar procedure and highlights the risks from lifelong use of immunosuppressants. Zion’s case was exceptional as he was already on the drugs, after receiving a kidney from his mother, Pattie Ray.

Prosthetic hands and limbs, adds Lanzetta, have now developed so much that they, rather than transplant surgery, are more likely to prove the future for patients like Zion.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 06:00 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Tampons that care: helping girls across the world to end 'shame of periods'

By buying certain menstrual products, consumers can trigger a donation of supplies to poorer countries, where women are often forced to rely on old rags

Rebecca Ratcliffe

Menstruation is getting its moment: there have been tampon selfies, tampon tax campaigns around the world, and even a day dedicated to menstrual hygiene. Now, a growing crop of companies is promising consumers they can help bring sanitary products to women who cannot afford them.

Buy a pack of pads and a supply will be donated to a woman in a developing country. It’s a bit like Toms shoes, the original one-for-one social enterprise, but for tampons. In the US, such companies have grown rapidly in popularity. Among them is L., founded by Talia Frenkel, a photojournalist who worked for the Red Cross and UN. It now sells its products in stores across the US, and distributes sanitary products and condoms through a network of more than 3,000 “female entrepreneurs” in poorer countries, including Uganda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and India. The company says it will donate more than 28 million health products this year.

Another company, Lunapads, runs a One4Her scheme, where every sanitary towel sold in the US pays for a pad for a girl in east Africa. So far, it says 17,000 women have benefited from the scheme, where pads are produced through the social business Afripads. Other companies running similar projects include Be Girl, which sells knickers - with pouches to hold liners, and Thinx, maker of special absorbent underwear.

The trend may be about to catch on in the UK. Companies such as L. are already eyeing up Europe, and London-based startup Freda is promising women in the UK that for every subscription for sanitary products it sells, it will pay for a supply to be produced by KiliPads, a women-run social enterprise in Tanzania. The pads, which are reusable, will then be handed out in local schools.

The project is still in its initial stages – there are only five women working for Kilipads, and neither Kilipads nor Freda are profitable yet. By ordering products from social enterprises such as KiliPads, Freda aims to avoid flooding the local market with western products – a criticism made of Toms shoes. “We’re trying to make it all more local – local materials, employing local women, supplying local girls,” says Freda founder Affi Parvizi-Wayne.

Freda is aimed at socially conscious young people, who are willing to pay extra for ethical products. “They are very much anti big brands. They want to know where their products have come from, and if they can do good, they will do,” she says. A subscription costs around £6.99 a month.

The issue of periods and the impact they have on girls’ health and education has been neglected in many poorer countries. Research has found girls often aren’t given enough information about puberty: a study by menstrual health charity Femme International found that 75% of girls in Nairobi’s Mathare Valley slum had no idea what their period was before it arrived. Once girls do start menstruating, many have no access to reliable sanitary products.

Researchers in rural Kenya found that girls rely mostly on old rags, and in some cases, cotton wool, grass, socks, plastic and paper. In India, only 12% of women and girls use sanitary products. Many girls go to school dreading their period will stain their clothes, or that other students will smell an odour. In sub-Saharan Africa, one in 10 girls miss school during their period, according to a Unesco report.

Classroom practices, such as an expectation in some countries that students stand up to answer questions, make matters worse, says Marni Sommer, associate professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University.

“Walking to the front of the classroom is already scary but it becomes a lot more scary if you’re worried about everybody staring at the back of your uniform.” Menstruation is one reason why girls drop out of school altogether.

Handing out reusable pads, and providing education, does help, says Paul Montgomery, professor of social intervention at the University of Birmingham. He led a research project that tracked school absence rates among 1,000 girls at eight schools in Uganda. In the two schools where sanitary pads or puberty education were not provided, levels of absenteeism among girls were 17% higher, on average, compared with schools where girls received pads, education, or both.

But startups offering to distribute products must be transparent about the impact they’re having, and commit to monitoring their impact, says Frenkel at L. in the US: “They must vet their partners to ensure that what they give ends up in the hands of the people who need it most, and isn’t languishing in a warehouse somewhere, or in a clinic.”Making sanitary products available will only solve part of the problem, though. Education, awareness among teachers and toilet facilities in schools are also crucial, says Sommer. In about 50% of the least developed countries, there’s no safe place for girls to change their pad while at school. “Either they don’t have toilets, or they don’t have toilets that are clean or safe,” she adds. This might mean there’s no door, or no clean water nearby.

For girls using washable products, another concern is having access to soap, water or a private place to clean and dry pads. “That was more of an issue than people might think,” says Montgomery. “If you think in terms of infection control, what you want is to dry them outside in the sunlight, and those are conditions which are not always very easily possible.” While researching the issue in Uganda, Montgomery’s team found examples of girls in boarding schools drying their pads under their bunk beds because of the stigma attached to menstruation. In other studies, women have reported attempting to dry cloths under other layers of clothing so that they remain hidden.

While reusable products might work for some, Montgomery questions projects that sell a disposable pad to women in the US or UK, but donate a washable pad to women elsewhere. “We have a very colonial view sometimes. These reusable products are supposed to be all very well in low and middle income countries, but they’re not the prevalent thing here,” he said. “Why aren’t Always and those kinds of products – and to be frank, I’m not sure they’re the best – good enough for them? It’s very patriarchal to say they can have some arguably inferior product.”

Others arguing in favour of reusable products say that these are preferred by some women, and they’re more environmentally friendly. Disposing of throw-away pads is a challenge in some areas, and it’s further complicated by taboos surrounding menstruation, such as the belief held by some communities that menstrual blood cannot be burned. These issues are still neglected, says Sommer.

While periods have become popular topics, waste management is not. “Saying to people ‘let’s talk about sewage and waste disposal’ – it’s just not sexy. It’s hard to get people to say I’m going to put my money into coming up with disposable waste management systems.”

Whether it’s better to donate money directly or to a use a “buy one, give one” product depends on the project in question, but more attention and awareness of the issue is helpful, said Sommer. Donations won’t transform girls’ lives overnight though. “That comes when social norms around talking about this issue, when the education system provides adequate safe toilets, when girls are across the board given the information and support they need as they come of age and as their bodies change as they try to manage their periods in school. That large scale buy-in of the public sector, and of the social norms of the community and the society are what will make the biggest changes ultimately.”

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 05:58 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
'Silly and regressive': Indian firms introduce period days

Indian companies trying to combat the stigma surrounding menstruation have launched a policy allowing female workers a day off each month

Amrit Dhillon in New Delhi
Wednesday 19 July 2017 05.00 BST

Two Indian firms have introduced a policy to give female employees a “period day” off every month.

The day can be taken off under “menstrual leave”, launched by Mumbai-based firms Culture Machine and Gozoop in order, they say, to fight taboos around menstruation.

Ahmed Aftab Naqvi, CEO of Gozoop, a digital marketing firm for brands such as Dell and Asian Paints, said there were “cultural sensibilities” in India that made it difficult for women to talk about their periods. “Why should our women co-workers have to have these awkward conversations or ask for leave? It should be something that is a given, that’s understood. That’s why we instituted blanket policy for all our 70 women employees,” he said.

For New Delhi gynaecologist Dr Anita Nayar, however, the menstrual leave policy is “silly” and “regressive”. For a start, she says the majority of women have no problem with period pains – and for those who do, merely having the first day off may not be enough anyway as their discomfort can last for days.

“I don’t see why women can’t openly say, without embarrassment, that they need time off. An automatic policy of one day off a month actually feeds into this whole embarrassment syndrome and keeps it under wraps. I’d rather women openly asked for time off when their periods are painful. That would really open the lid,” she said.

Culture Machine, a digital media company with 75 female employees, announced the measure in a YouTube video that shows its female workers describing how they struggle to work during their periods through cramps and nausea, and battle the feeling that they are “going to die soon”. It shows their faces lighting up on being told they will get the first day off.

In the video, Devleena S Majumdar, Culture Machine’s head of HR, says: “We felt it was time we face reality. This is not an embarrassment, this is a part of life.”

She has been stunned at the positive reaction. The video has received more than 1.4m hits. “We have to break the taboo. I know that some critics have said that women will be embarrassed, when they take this day off, at telling the whole world they have started their period. But when you get pregnant and apply for maternity leave, you aren’t embarrassed so why would women be embarrassed about menstrual leave?” she asked.

Periods are taboo in India, not just in polite circles but everywhere. Menstruating girls and women are considered impure and banned from entering temples or cooking food in their own homes.

Even in educated, middle-class homes, girls have to wash their clothes separately. They cannot touch pickles or poppadoms because they will go “bad”. Herbs will shrivel up as they approach, they are told.

The insensitivity towards menstruation affects education. A report on sanitation last year by the Dasra foundation found that 23% of girls in India drop out of school when their periods begin because of the lack of a private toilet.

The subject is shrouded in so much shame and stigma that girls often go to insane lengths to hide their periods. Aditi Gupta, co-founder of Menstrupedia, a website that dispels myths and educates young women, said she had visited a rural school and met a girl who, through mind-boggling ingenuity, had managed to hide her “secret” from her parents for a whole year.

Gupta welcomes the menstrual leave policy. “We need to break the silence around the subject. This menstrual leave policy is a way of breaking these taboos and it’s a step in the right direction. Women can take a day off without having to explain and without being judged or branded as less efficient,” said Gupta.

It’s only when superstitions around menstruation are smashed, she said, that the custom of isolating menstruating women and girls will end. This month, a teenage girl in Nepal died after she was confined to a cowshed and bitten by a snake. Tulasi Shahi, 19, had been banished to the shed and forced to sleep alone.

The practice of sequestering women in cattle sheds for the duration of their periods is also common in many parts of India.

Culture Machine CEO, Sameer Pitalwalla, is unmoved by criticism of the policy. “We are a country that can’t say the word ‘period’,” he said, adding that it did not mean women have to stay at home. The menstrual leave was optional, for those who needed it.


India’s caste system is alive and kicking – and maiming and killing

Mari Marcel Thekaekara

The country is celebrating the 70th anniversary of its independence from Britain. But for its ‘untouchables’, oppression and violence are still an everyday reality

15 Aug 2016

It’s 15 August 2016, and in India we’re celebrating the 70th anniversary of our independence. Flags wave. There’s the usual huge Independence Day parade in the capital.

But the celebrations bring out both pride and anguish. All of us imbibed the “freedom struggle” stories as children. We were taught to be proud of our country’s prolonged battle against colonialism, of the martyrs who gave their blood for India. We showed the world how to shed the shackles of imperialism. And we spread the doctrine of non-violence at a time when it seemed an impossible dream. What’s not to be proud of?

But for those who work with our poorest, most marginalised groups, to ask some loaded questions is almost mandatory. What does freedom mean? Free to be mercilessly thrashed for doing a job thrust forcibly on you, such as skinning dead cows, your destiny because that’s the caste you were born into? “It’s our curse,” dalits have said to me.

As I write this, the dalits (India’s most oppressed group, our “untouchables”) are doing a special “freedom” march to Una, a small town in Gujarat where last month four young men were brutally beaten up with iron rods by a mob of cow vigilantes for skinning dead cows. These young men are from the “chamar” or leather tanning caste. Even now, if ordered to move a carcass – and that means any dead animal ranging from cows to goats to dogs or cats – they are compelled by societal norms to do so, regardless of whether they’ve earned a doctorate in economics or history. The unwritten rule: once a chamar, always a chamar. Yes, we’ve come a long way economically, but our feudal system is alive and well. And not just kicking. It’s maiming, raping and killing, too.

As millions of Indians celebrate Independence Day, the Times of India ran a story about Ovindra Pal, a dalit man who despite having a master’s in history, was forced to work in his father’s trade, skinning bovine carcasses. Understandably, Pal is bitter, as are thousands of dalits who have painstakingly inched up the education ladder but still can’t find a job commensurate with their skills and qualifications.

    We need to stop the prevailing culture of murderers and rapists getting away with crimes against our poorest people

All Indians, whether Christian, Muslim, Parsi, Buddhist, Jain or Hindu, carry some vestiges of the caste system in them. Caste and casteism have been carried to every corner of the globe to which the Indian diaspora migrated. Our caste prejudices manifest themselves most clearly in the matrimonial newspaper columns, where prospective brides and grooms of all religions are sought for traditional marriage alliances. Caste and skin colour are the most important criteria for admitting a strange woman into that most intimate circle, the home and the family. The woman who will bring forth children to perpetuate the line must almost always be fair-skinned and of the same caste. The exceptions to this rule are very rare.

My plea this Independence Day is very basic, and echoes that of the marchers in Gujarat for justice and equality. I don’t care if people continue to choose whom they eat with or to whom they marry their daughters and sons. Change, after all, comes slowly. But we do need to stop the prevailing culture of total impunity which allows murderers and rapists of our nation’s poorest people to flaunt their crimes, knowing they can get away with anything.

In India, justice for the poor and powerless is the exception rather than the rule. Our much maligned media cry themselves hoarse, but the powerful continue to strut around their crime scenes protected by politicians and corrupt bureaucrats.

For how many centuries more will we continue to allow heinous caste crimes to go unpunished? It makes a mockery of everything our freedom fighters died for.

Must dalits fight alone? Or can decent Indians stand with them? Our more enlightened business leaders, socially conscious Bollywood actors, and our few decent politicians should organise a different freedom celebration. We can and must begin a campaign against casteism. Only then, when the medieval practice of untouchability and caste is honestly a thing of the past, can we truly celebrate India’s freedom.

 on: Jul 19, 2017, 05:48 AM 
Started by Rad - Last post by Darja
Third-hottest June puts 2017 on track to make hat-trick of hottest years

June 2017 was beaten only by June in 2015 and 2016, leaving experts with little hope for limiting warming to 1.5C or even 2C

Michael Slezak
Wednesday 19 July 2017 06.12 BST

Last month was the third-hottest June on record globally, temperature data suggest, confirming 2017 will almost certainly make a hat-trick of annual climate records, with 2015, 2016 and 2017 being the three hottest years since records began.

The figures also cement estimations that warming is now at levels not seen for 115,000 years, and leave some experts with little hope for limiting warming to 1.5C or even 2C.

According to new figures from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa), June 2017 was the third-hottest June on record, beaten only by the two preceding Junes in 2015 and 2016.

The Noaa data show combined land and sea-surface temperatures for June 2017 were 0.82C above the 20th century average, making a string of 41 consecutive Junes above that average.

June 2016 still holds the record at 0.92C above the 20th century average, followed by June 2015 which was 0.89C above the baseline.

The data line up closely with Nasa figures released last week, which are calculated slightly differently, finding the month was the fourth-hottest on record – with June 1998 also being warmer in their data set.

Based on the Nasa data, climate scientist and director of Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies Gavin Schmidt estimated that 2017 was probably going to be the second-warmest year on record after 2016, but would almost certainly be among the top three hottest years.

    Gavin Schmidt (@ClimateOfGavin)

    With update to Jun, 2017 will almost certainly be a top 3 year in the GISTEMP record (most likely 2nd warmest ~57% chance). pic.twitter.com/jiR6cCv1x8
    July 15, 2017

The June data see all of the first six months of 2017 sitting among the three warmest months on record, making it the second-hottest first half of a year on record – again, beaten only by the previous year.

The near-record temperatures continued this year despite the passing of El Niño, which normally warms the globe, and its opposite – La Niña – currently suppressing temperatures.

The warming trend is almost certainly caused by greenhouse gas emissions – mostly the result of burning fossil fuels – with many studies showing such warm years would be almost impossible without that effect.

Last year, Michael Mann from Pennsylvania State University published a paper showing the then-record temperatures in 2014 would have had less than a one in a million chance of occurring naturally.

“We have a follow-up article that we’ve submitted showing that the likelihood of three consecutive record-breaking years such as we saw in 2015-2017 was similarly unlikely,” he told the Guardian over email. “In short, we can only explain the onslaught of record warm years by accounting for human-caused warming of the planet.”

Andy Pitman from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia said the onslaught of very rapid warming in the past few years is likely a result of the climate system “catching up” after a period of relative slow warming caused by natural variability – the so-called “hiatus”.

“I do not think the recent anomalies change anything from a science perspective,” he said. “The Earth is warming at about the long-term rates that were expected and predicted [by models].”

But Pitman said the ongoing trend was “entirely inconsistent” with the target of keeping warming at just 1.5C above pre-industrial temperatures.

Current trends suggest the 1.5C barrier would be breached in the 2040s, with some studies suggesting it might happen much sooner.

“In my view, to limit warming to 2C requires both deep and rapid cuts and a climate sensitivity on the lower end of the current range,” Pitman said. “I see no evidence that the climate sensitivity is on the lower end of the current range, unfortunately.”

“It would be a good idea to cut greenhouse gas emissions rather faster than we are.”

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