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06 Sep

News and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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Phyllis Schlafly, outspoken rightwing activist, has died aged 92

Associated Press

The McGlynn:

Words such as  “sexual harassment on the job is not a problem for virtuous women” and that “sex-education classes are like in-home sales parties for abortions.” sprung from a very sick mind. Calling the atom bomb “a marvelous gift that was given to our country by a wise God.” sticks in one’s mind.

A few more of her infamous remarks:

“It is long overdue for parents to realize they have the right and duty to protect our children against the intolerant evolutionists.”

“Many professors are Marxists or other varieties of radicals who hate America.” –

“People think that child-support enforcement benefits children, but it doesn’t.”

Her Eagle Forum pushes for low taxes, a strong military, English-only education, and against  the ERA, guest-worker visas, tax-funded abortions, same-sex marriages, arms control agreements etc.

God rest her soul – HELL NO!

The McGlynn

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Excerpts from The Guardian

Why is Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem?

Colin Kaepernick has recently come under heavy criticism for not standing during The Star-Spangled Banner in two preseason games. The San Francisco 49ers quarterback is protesting against American racial injustice and minority oppression

Colin Kaepernick has right to protest against racial discrimination in US, president said, as other athletes have been influenced to kneel in solidarity

Kaepernick is not the first African American athlete to use his fame to bring attention to issues of race in the US. At the 1968 Olympics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised their fists on the podium as a gesture against racial discrimination while in the 1990s the NBA player Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the anthem, calling the US flag a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny”.

“My understanding, at least, is he is exercising his constitutional right to make a statement. I think there is a long history of sports figures doing so,” Obama said.

Kaepernick has also pledged to donate $1m to community projects as he seeks to effect change in the US. “I don’t doubt his sincerity, based on what I’ve heard,” Obama said. “I think he cares about some real legitimate issues that have to be talked about. If nothing else, what he’s done is he’s generated more conversation about some topics that need to be talked about.”

There are signs that Kaepernick’s actions are starting to influence other athletes. His team-mate Eric Reid also sat out the anthem last week, while the first white athlete to join the protest, the US football international Megan Rapinoe, did not stand for the Star-Spangled Banner during a game on Sunday.

“It was very intentional,” Rapinoe told American Soccer Now after the game. “It was a little nod to Kaepernick and everything that he’s standing for right now. I think it’s actually pretty disgusting the way he was treated and the way that a lot of the media has covered it and made it about something that it absolutely isn’t. We need to have a more thoughtful, two-sided conversation about racial issues in this country.

“Being a gay American, I know what it means to look at the flag and not have it protect all of your liberties. It was something small that I could do and something that I plan to keep doing in the future and hopefully spark some meaningful conversation around it. It’s important to have white people stand in support of people of color on this. We don’t need to be the leading voice, of course, but standing in support of them is something that’s really powerful.”

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IUCN report warns that ‘truly staggering’ rate of warming is changing the behaviour of marine species, reducing fishing zones and spreading disease

The scale of warming in the ocean is ‘truly staggering’, the report warns.

The scale of warming in the ocean is ‘truly staggering’, the report warns. Photograph: Ralph Lee Hopkins/Alamy

The soaring temperature of the oceans is the “greatest hidden challenge of our generation” that is altering the make-up of marine species, shrinking fishing areas and starting to spread disease to humans, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of ocean warming.

The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales, according to an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) report involving the work of 80 scientists from a dozen countries.

The profound changes underway in the oceans are starting to impact people, the report states. “Due to a domino effect, key human sectors are at threat, especially fisheries, aquaculture, coastal risk management, health and coastal tourism.”

Dan Laffoley, IUCN marine adviser and one of the report’s lead authors, said: “What we are seeing now is running well ahead of what we can cope with. The overall outlook is pretty gloomy.

“We perhaps haven’t realised the gross effect we are having on the oceans, we don’t appreciate what they do for us. We are locking ourselves into a future where a lot of the poorer people in the world will miss out.”

The scale of warming in the ocean, which covers around 70% of the planet, is “truly staggering”, the report states. The upper few metres of ocean have warmed by around 0.13C a decade since the start of the 20th century, with a 1-4C increase in global ocean warming by the end of this century.

global sea

The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.

At some point, the report says, warming waters could unlock billions of tonnes of frozen methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from the seabed and cook the surface of the planet. This could occur even if emissions are drastically cut, due to the lag time between emitting greenhouse gases and their visible consequences.

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Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein delivers scathing rebuke, saying he fears ‘colossal violence’ if populists continue peddling ‘half-truths, manipulations and fear’

The UN high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, has given a powerful speech warning of the potential for ‘colossal violence’ if exponents of far-right views are allowed to continue their ‘banalisation of bigotry’. “We must pull back from this trajectory,” Zeid warned in a speech in The Hague

The UN human rights chief has launched a scathing attack on populist politicians including Donald Trump and the Dutch far-right leader Geert Wilders, calling for action to halt “demagogues and political fantasists”.

Speaking in The Hague, Zeid Raad al-Hussein said he was a Muslim whose role was “to defend and promote the human rights of each individual, everywhere”.

“And I am angry too. Because of Mr Wilders’s lies and half-truths, manipulations and peddling of fear,” Zeid told the inauguration of the Peace, Justice and Security Foundation in The Hague.

Zeid said he worked as a peacekeeper in the Balkans for 20 years and the cruelty the saw during the conflict “flowed from this same factory of deceit, bigotry and ethnic nationalism”.

In August Wilders’s Freedom party (PVV) launched its campaign platform ahead of March elections vowing to “close mosques, Islamic schools and ban the Qur’an” if elected. Zeid called the document “grotesque”.

The PVV, which has been leading in opinion polls, also vowed to reverse the “Islamisation” of the Netherlands by closing borders, shutting asylum-seeker centres, banning immigrants from Muslim countries and stopping Muslim women wearing headscarves.

Zeid strongly criticised the PVV’s proposals and said Wilders had much in common with the US Republican presidential hopeful Trump, Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orban, the French National Front leader Marine Le Pen and the leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage.

He said they had similarities to the ideology espoused by the Islamic State group.

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Europe’s migration policies are turning the country into a giant holding pen, with the people trapped in it close to breaking point

Inside the gloomy warehouse at Softex, a former toilet paper factory now housing about 1,000 asylum seekers.

Inside the gloomy warehouse at Softex, a former toilet paper factory now housing about 1,000 asylum seekers. Photograph: Patrick Kingsley for the Guardian

At the Softex refugee camp in northern Greece, it is lighter by night than it is by day. Inside this windowless former warehouse, the lamps only work in the evenings. That is partly because the place was not designed to house people. It is part of what was a toilet paper factory.

“It’s insulting,” says Hendiya Asseni, a 62-year-old Syrian, of being housed in a one-time loo-roll store. “But then everything here is insulting – the life, the food, the fact we have a toilet in front of our tent.”

This humiliation is the logical conclusion of the migration policies that Europe has pursued since the death of Alan Kurdi this time last year. Attempting to stem the flow into Europe, politicians have established a deportation deal with Turkey, from where most Europe-bound migrants depart, and built fences throughout the Balkans, trapping about 50,000 people in Greece.

Some still smuggle themselves north. But the vast majority of those still on Greek territory when the borders shut in March are now stranded in about 50 squalid camps across the country. At least seven were infested with snakes and scorpions, aid workers said. In another, the mattresses were full of bed-bugs. But the most notorious is Softex.

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Rodrigo Duterte further strains diplomatic ties with Washington as he warns US leader not to question him on extrajudicial killings

Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with the president of the Philippines after Rodrigo Duterte appeared to call him a “son of a whore’. The move followed a warning from Duterte to the US president to stay away from the subject of extrajudicial killings in his country’s brutal drug war when they were due to meet on Tuesday at a regional summit in Laos.

Barack Obama has cancelled a meeting with the president of the Philippines after Rodrigo Duterte appeared to call him a “son of a whore”.

The move followed a warning from Duterte to the US president to keep off the subject of extrajudicial killings in his country’s brutal drug war when they were due to meet on Tuesday at a regional summit in Laos. Duterte told a press conference that Obama “must be respectful”.

The firebrand president was answering a reporter’s question about how he intended to explain the extrajudicial killings to Obama, before boarding a plane to Laos for the Association of South-east Asian Nations summit.

“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. Son of a whore, I will curse you in that forum,” Duterte was quoted by as saying by Agence-France Presse. “We will be wallowing in the mud like pigs if you do that to me.”

When his comments reached the Obama camp, the US president initially said he was asking his staff to find out whether holding the meeting as scheduled would be useful.

“What I’ve instructed my team to do is to talk to their Philippine counterparts to find out, is if this in fact a time where we can have some constructive, productive conversations,” Obama said at a news conference at the end of a G20 summit in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

“Obviously the Filipino people are some of our closest friends and allies and the Philippines is a treaty ally of ours. But I always want to make sure that if I’m having a meeting that it’s actually productive and we’re getting something done.”

But hours later the decision was made to cancel, a White House spokesman said. Instead, Obama will meet with South Korean president Park Geun-hye.

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Detection of ‘abundant’ magnetite particles raises concerns because of suggested links to Alzheimer’s disease

Mist over Mexico City

The new study examined brain tissue from people in the UK and Mexico and found abundant particles of magnetite, an iron oxide. Photograph: Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Toxic nanoparticles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains in “abundant” quantities, a newly published study reveals.

The detection of the particles, in brain tissue from 37 people, raises concerns because recent research has suggested links between these magnetite particles and Alzheimer’s disease, while air pollution has been shown to significantly increase the risk of the disease. However, the new work is still a long way from proving that the air pollution particles cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s.

“This is a discovery finding, and now what should start is a whole new examination of this as a potentially very important environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease,” said Prof Barbara Maher, at Lancaster University, who led the new research. “Now there is a reason to go on and do the epidemiology and the toxicity testing, because these particles are so prolific and people are exposed to them.”

Air pollution is a global health crisis that kills more people than malaria and HIV/Aids combined and it has long been linked to lung and heart disease and strokes. But research is uncovering new impacts on health, including degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, mental illness and reduced intelligence.

The new work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, examined brain tissue from 37 people in Manchester, in the UK, and Mexico, aged between three and 92.

It found abundant particles of magnetite, an iron oxide. “You are talking about millions of magnetite particles per gram of freeze-dried brain tissue – it is extraordinary,” said Maher.

“Magnetite in the brain is not something you want to have because it is particularly toxic there,” she said, explaining that the substance can create reactive oxygen species called free radicals. “Oxidative cell damage is one of the hallmark features of Alzheimer’s disease, and this is why the presence of magnetite is so potentially significant, because it is so bioreactive.”

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