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Offline knarf

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21,000 US women order abortion pills online in past six months
« Reply #12795 on: May 22, 2019, 05:43:18 AM »
Three-quarters of mail order requests came from states with strict anti-abortion laws


 People gather at the Alabama State Capitol to protest against the state’s new abortion law

Thousands of American women have obtained abortion pills online in the past six months, according to figures that highlight the escalating difficulty in accessing safe abortions on the ground.

Data shared with the Guardian reveals that 21,000 women requested abortion medication between October 2018 and March this year from the charity Aid Access. Between a third and a half of the women who made the requests were then sent abortion pills in the mail. The majority of the recipients live in states with hostile abortion policies.

Women who obtained pills online described desperation at being unable to access affordable medical services locally, with some saying they had considered extreme measures to end their pregnancies.

“The reality on the ground is already so desperate,” said Rebecca Gomperts, founder of Aid Access, which provides online prescriptions for abortion pills that are dispatched to the US by mail. “If a woman cannot access a normal abortion in the US they will do anything to end their pregnancy.”

Last week, Alabama passed the first near-total abortion ban, with four other states passing bans in the early weeks of gestation, before most women know they are pregnant, threatening women’s constitutional right to abortion within America. However, the latest figures suggest that clinic closures, prohibitive financial cost and requirements for in-person abortion counselling followed by a waiting period have already caused a drastic erosion of women’s health services.

Abigail Aiken, assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin, who analysed the Aid Access data, said: “We talk about this idea that Alabama might overturn Roe v Wade. But even now there are so many women who have a right to abortion but they cannot exercise that right.”

Abortion is legal in all 50 US states. Abortion bans in US states are an effort by campaigners to overturn Roe v Wade, a US supreme court decision which provided women the right to an abortion up to the point a foetus can live outside the womb, or roughly 24 weeks.

Since 2006, Gomperts has run the charity Women on Web, which enables women in countries with abortion bans to terminate their pregnancies through online consultations. Doctors at the charity prescribe the two pills – mifepristone and misoprostol – that will terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks. The pills are sent to women from a pharmacy based in India.

Gomperts launched the US operation, Aid Access, last year after seeing a steady increase in demand, with about 6,000 requests for abortion pills between October 2017 and August 2018. Three-quarters of requests came from states that have introduced strict anti-abortion laws, such as Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.

The charity said it had also heard from women who said they were considering extreme measures, such as drinking alcohol or getting someone to punch them in the stomach.

In some states, anti-abortion legislation has led to a majority of clinics closing down. In Texas, there were 44 clinics in 2013, but only 19 clinics remained two years later after restrictive laws were passed reclassifying abortion centres as surgical centres, meaning they needed to have wide corridors and large operating rooms. Last year, six states were reported to have just one abortion provider in operation.

“For people on a low income, the legal right to abortion is almost a moot point,” said Aitken.

Medical abortions before 10 weeks of pregnancy are similar to a spontaneous miscarriage and generally do not require follow up care. The first pill (mifepristone) blocks the pregnancy hormone and the second (misoprostol), taken 24 hours later, causes the uterus to contract.

Testimonies from women said to have accessed abortion pills, published by the charity in a letter last week, span a range of situations, from young women in relationships who could not afford the $900 charged by their local clinic, to mothers who did not want to have another child, to women in abusive relationships.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning letter stating that Aid Access is violating federal law by selling “misbranded and unapproved” drugs.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/22/revealed-21000-us-women-order-abortion-pills-in-six-months?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_reddit_is_fun
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A Major U.S. Utility Is Closing Its Coal-Fired Power Plants a Decade Early
« Reply #12796 on: May 22, 2019, 05:49:02 AM »

The Sherburne County Generating Station, also known as Sherco, in Becker, Minnesota.



One of the United States’ largest utilities, Xcel Energy Inc., announced it will close its remaining coal-fired power plants in the Upper Midwest a decade ahead of schedule and add 3,000 megawatts of new solar capacity by 2030, E&E News reported. It is the latest step in the utility’s plan to provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050.

“This is a significant step forward as we are on track to reduce carbon emissions more than 80 percent by 2030 and transform the way we deliver energy to our customers,” said Chris Clark, president of Xcel’s operations in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

The company said it will shut its 511-megawatt Allen S. King Generation Station by 2028 and its 2,238-megawatt Sherburne County plant (known as Sherco) by 2030. It also agreed to run one of the units at the Sherco facility only seasonally and close the unit permanently in 2023. Xcel said it will increase investment in energy efficiency measures, bring 1,850 megawatts of new wind capacity online in Minnesota by 2022, as well as keep its Monticello Nuclear Generating Station operating until 2040, a decade later than planned, according to E&E News.

The clean energy strategy is part of new legal settlement between the company, environmental organizations, and labor groups involving Xcel’s proposed $650 million purchase of a 760-megawatt natural gas plant.

https://e360.yale.edu/digest/a-major-u-s-utility-is-closing-its-coal-fired-power-plants-a-decade-early
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US cosmetics are full of chemicals banned by Europe – why?
« Reply #12797 on: May 22, 2019, 05:56:14 AM »
A long list of potentially harmful ingredients banned in the EU are legally allowed in the US due to historically relaxed regulations


Trial lipstick in various shades of red, pink and orange at a high-end makeup counter.

A brief but telling piece of legislation was put forward in Connecticut in January. Just three lines in length, the bill calls for any cosmetics in the state to “meet the chemical safety standards established by the European Union”.

The move, unlikely to be made law, is the latest signal of mounting anguish over the enfeebled regulation of everyday products in the US compared with European countries. Across a span of cosmetics, including makeup, toothpaste and shampoo, to items ranging from household cleaners to fruit juice to cheese, hundreds of potentially harmful ingredients banned in the EU are legally allowed in the US.

“Many Americans are unaware that they are absorbing untested and unsafe chemicals in their products,” said Alex Bergstein, a state senator who put forward the Connecticut legislation. Bergstein was previously the chair of the Mount Sinai Children’s Environmental health center.

“Generally, the EU has got it right. In the US we have a strong favouritism towards companies and manufacturers, to the extent that public health and the environment is being harmed. The pendulum has swung in an extreme way and it’s really going to take a general awakening by the public.”

The disparity in standards between the EU and US has grown to the extent it touches almost every element of most Americans’ lives. In cosmetics alone, the EU has banned or restricted more than 1,300 chemicals while the US has outlawed or curbed just 11.

It’s possible to find formaldehyde, a known carcinogen banned in EU-sold cosmetics, in US hair-straightening treatments and nail polish. Parabens, linked to reproductive problems, are ruled out in the EU but not the US, where they lurk in skin and hair products. Coal tar dyes can be found in Americans’ eyeshadow, years after they were banned in the EU and Canada.

“In the US it’s really a buyer beware situation,” said Janet Nudelman, director of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. “Cosmetics companies can use any raw material that they like and there’s no way to know if they are safe before they reach the shelves. The contrast with the EU is stark and troubling.”

At the heart of the EU’s approach is what as known as its Reach (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) laws which require manufacturers to prove to regulators that a product is safe before it can be used. The US has similar rules for new chemicals entering the market but no such precautionary principles for the thousands of potential toxins already in use.

This means that certain dyes used in cheese, chocolates and juice are restricted in some European countries such as the UK – where a 2007 study found some artificial colors and preservatives are linked to increased hyperactivity in children – but not the US. Atrazine is the most widely used herbicide in the US but has been banned in Europe since 2003 due to concerns it pollutes water. Lead-based paints were banned in much of Europe before the second world war but it took the US until 1978 to follow suit.

Asbestos exposure has long been known to cause deaths and illnesses but the substance is still not banned in the US. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) attempted to do so in 1989 only to be overturned by the federal court following a backlash from manufacturers.

The clout of powerful industry interests, combined with a regulatory system that demands a high level of proof of harm before any action is taken, has led to the American public being routinely exposed to chemicals that have been rubbed out of the lives of people in countries such as the UK, Germany and France.

“When the asbestos ban got overturned the EPA got nervous about banning anything,” said Molly Jacobs, a senior researcher at the Lowell Center for Sustainable Production. “That was the last time the EPA sought very strict restrictions on industrial chemicals. The EU definitely has stronger policies.”

Of the more than 40,000 chemicals on the market in the US, the EPA has only banned six, including polychlorinated biphenyls (known as PCBs) which are linked to cancers, certain aerosol sprays blamed for the hole in the ozone layer and dioxins, used as an ingredient in Agent Orange, which the US sprayed during the Vietnam war.

Under a 1976 law called the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) the EPA has the power to limit chemicals, but critics say it is severely flawed. The act largely focuses on new potential toxins and even then gives the EPA just 90 days to work out if new products pose a risk before they hit the market.

A 1996 amendment known as the Lautenberg Act required the EPA to evaluate all potentially risky chemicals, but progress on this backlog has often appeared painfully slow. “The EPA is playing catchup, and under this administration things aren’t moving very fast at all,” said Jacobs.

The EPA recently listed 40 chemicals to be assessed for review, including asbestos, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene, which is used in refrigeration and can cause damage to the nervous system and liver. Andrew Wheeler, administrator of the EPA, said the agency was committed to the “successful and timely implementation” of the Lautenberg Act.

But while the process has lagged, deaths have mounted. More than 50 deaths in the US since the 1980s have been linked to methylene chloride, a lethal ingredient of paint stripper that has been banned in the EU. The EPA recently got around to banning the chemical from consumer use after a group of retailers voluntarily removed it from shelves.

It will still be allowed for commercial use, however. “I am deeply disappointed that the EPA has decided to weaken its proposed ban on methylene chloride,” said Wendy Hartley, whose 21-year-old son Kevin died two years ago while using paint stripper on a bathtub, even after receiving training and wearing a protective mask. Hartley is one of two mothers who are suing the EPA claiming that their sons died while using the paint stripper.

“Workers who use methylene chloride will now be left unprotected and at risk of health issues or death. I will continue my fight until the EPA does its job.”

But even within the Trump administration, characterized by its zeal for deregulation, there is frustration that regulators have not been able to intervene as strongly as their EU counterparts. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently found asbestos in Claire’s cosmetics but could do little when the company refused to recall the products. Claire’s subsequently withdrew the eyeshadows and compact powders voluntarily.

Scott Gottlieb, the departing FDA commissioner, said the episode showed that cosmetics regulations unchanged since 1938 are “outdated” and need to be overhauled to ensure public health.

“To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” Gottlieb said. “This means that ultimately a cosmetic manufacturer can decide if they’d like to test their product for safety and register it with the FDA.”

In lieu of any new laws, consumer advocates want federal agencies to act more aggressively and defy chemical industry lobbyists. They concede, however, a more likely recourse is an upwelling of public outrage at the risks faced in mundanities such as applying makeup or eating lunch.

“I’m hoping for dramatic changes in our politics but there’s little chance of that,” said Bergstein. “The federal government is barely functioning, so consumers have to realize they have the power to become more vocal and demand change. The awareness is still not there, though.”

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/may/22/chemicals-in-cosmetics-us-restricted-eu
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Farm-attacks activist found brutally murdered on her Makhado farm
« Reply #12798 on: May 22, 2019, 06:08:22 AM »


UPDATE: Suspect arrested for murder of farm-attack activist Annette Kennealy

Police are on the hunt for an employee of Annette Kennealy, who was found murdered on her farm near Makhado in Limpopo.

Netwerk24 reported that Limpopo police spokesperson Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe has called on one Kenny Ramatshimbila, who resides in the Mauluma area in the Vhembe district of Limpopo, to report to the Makhado police station for questioning. He reportedly lived on the premises and has subsequently disappeared.

Kennealy, 50, was an activist against farm attacks and related murders.

According to Times Live, the incident took place late on Monday evening or early on Tuesday morning on the farm Welgevonden.

Ngoepe reportedly said: "It is alleged that the deceased, Annette Kennealy, who was staying with her employee, was attacked by unknown suspects at this farm. The family members tried to call her without success, until one of them went to investigate.

"On arrival he found the deceased inside the house lying in a pool of blood, with multiple stab wounds. The whereabouts of the deceased's employee is unknown at this stage."

According to Maroela Media, Kennealy's body was found with several wounds to her head. A hammer and iron pipe were found next to her body.

Kennealy was outspoken about farm murders, Her last Facebook posts highlighted the issue. On May 19, she posted a link claiming that ten farm attacks, including one murder, had been reported in four days.

Maroela Media quoted agricultural union TLU SA's Henk van de Graaf as saying that Kennealy was committed to highlighting the scourge of farm attacks and murders.

"If someone like Kennealy, who was known as an activist, becomes a victim herself, one should beg the question whether this was more than just a 'regular' farm attack," Van de Graaf said in a statement.

Netwerk24 quoted Kim Harris, Kennealy's sister, who said that [her murder] felt unreal. "I still can't believe it," she reportedly said. She told the publication that the police would not allow the family near the crime scene. "All I know is that it was a brutal murder," she reportedly said.

On Wedneday, the DA issued a statement in which it sent its condolences to the family of Kennealy.

"Ms Kennealy served the DA as a councillor between 2011 to 2014 and will be remembered for her selfless service and her commitment towards human rights," provincial DA leader Jacques Smalle said. 

"We hope that those responsible will soon be apprehended and that justice will be served.

"I personally have known Ms Kennealy for more than 40 years and will remember her for our shared passion of the arts, her sober expression for her love of the country and her love for nature and animals," Smalle said.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Ms Kennealy's two daughters, Astrid and Megan, her sister Kim, her mother and immediate family and friends during this difficult time."

Ngoepe reportedly said a manhunt has been launched to find the person or people who killed Kennealy.

Anyone with information about the incident was urged to contact Captain Muthuhandini Tinyani on 072 470 1444 or call the police emergency number 10111.
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Offline knarf

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Some days the jokes write themselves. Some days, the jokes just speak.

Dumb & Dumber cohorts Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels have been vocal lately about the DANGER this country faces if conservatives, the GOP and Trump stay in power.

Carey, who seems like he lost his last marble a while ago went first with his moronic tweet that showed the Governor of Alabama being aborted. This crass move seems to have backfired on the Dumber of the Dumb duo as it is a perfect representation of what happens during an abortion.

As if on cue Jeff Daniels decided in an interview today on MSNBC to go and lose some of his bearings also about the state of the nation as well. My colleague Alex Parker covered this earlier today at Red State with this article, Jeff Daniels On MSNBC: Trump Supporters Are Racist, & Trump’s Re-Election Will Mean ‘The End Of Democracy.’

So what gives? Why are two comedians who played dumb in a movie now acting and saying dumb things in public about political issues?

Jim Carey has been showing his Trump Derangement Syndrome since right after the 2016 election. He has been burning the midnight oil on his rantings about Trump and just recently had some more of his “artwork” shown, displaying Trump as cult leader Jim Jones. In a tweet from back in April, he posted this.


Jim Carrey
‏Verified account @JimCarrey

Let’s all drink a toast to the new king of lies,
and the minions who help him while democracy dies,
and our kids who’ll be taught that the wicked are wise
because Potus was Jack from ‘Lord of The Flies’. 
How much poison are you willing to swallow?!



 8:53 AM - 24 Apr 2019

    25,468 Retweets
    96,306

Real snazzy. This guy is a budding Edgar Aleen Poe and Vincent van Gogh combined. Let’s just hope he doesn’t cut off his ear being he would probably Instagram that and it would be the biggest hit he has ever had.

Jeff Daniels comments are not as vile but just plain alarmist and show a lack of knowledge. From Alex’s piece above…

    Jeff also appeared to assert — but perhaps I’m not understanding correctly — that middle America is dumb:

    “And I think there are people in the Midwest, between the coasts, who don’t know anything about this, who don’t care about this, who don’t have any time for this, who have to make a decision now. You have to decide whether, like Atticus, you believe that there is still compassion, decency, civility, respect for others — ‘do unto others,’ remember that? — all that stuff you guys believe in, and you still voted not for Hillary, or for Trump. Where are you now?”

    Am I interpreting that properly?

    Okay, now here’s the classic:

    “If the big gamble is to go all the way to November 2020…and lose, it’s the end of democracy.”

Being I’m from Michigan like Daniels I can confidently say this about our fellow “Michiganians”. The people of this state are pissed off, not dumb. That also goes for most of the country. Donald Trump won this state by 10,000 votes and the mitten had not gone for a Republican since 1988. If you think that Hillary was all those wonderful things that Atticus Finch wondered about, then you must be enjoying turning your mind totally off.

Jeff should know this being here but like most people from Hollywood that have had some modicum of success, they seem to forget how the actual people that want to be entertained by them live each day. Living or working on one of the coasts is great yet not exactly the same as working in middle America busting your butt to make a living.

The United States of America has faced many challenges in its short history but we will not be ending (OUR REPUBLIC, NOT DEMOCRACY) if Trump wins reelection or if Joe Biden trips in or Bernie Sanders slumps forward. People who say that to sound witty on Bill Maher or MSNBC are so removed from what is actually happening in this country I feel absolutely embarrassed for them.

You just sound dumb. Please don’t say it anymore and sound dumber.

Also if you see anyone with some rage issues painting and they have a knife, make sure to call authorities for a welfare check.

https://www.redstate.com/tladuke/2019/05/21/dumb-dumber-jim-carey-jeff-daniels-make-ridiculous-claims-conservatives./
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Re: May snow wallops Denver area and many other places across the US
« Reply #12800 on: May 22, 2019, 06:39:13 AM »
🎵I'm dreaming of a White Summer Solstice🎵

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/GfZPtkqXQIA" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/GfZPtkqXQIA</a>

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Getting Smart & Smarter!  :icon_mrgreen:

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The Chinese master is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by a few

THIS is the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk who meditated to death, encased inside a 1,000-year-old ancient statue.

Scientists scanned the Buddha and made the grisly discovery, when they saw bones of an ultra religious man clearly sat in the lotus position.


The ancient Buddhist statue was found to be holding a grisly secret


The remains of a monk, who died around 1100AD, in China was found inside

It is thought to be the remains of Zhang - known as Patriarch Zhanggong and Liuquan Zhanggong - who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School and died around 1100AD.

He is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by few. The aim was to become a living Buddha.

For the first 1,000 days monks stopped all food except nuts, seeds, and berries to strip body fat.

The next 1,000 days saw a diet of bark and roots before they consumed poisonous tea made from sap of the Urushi tree.

This caused vomiting and a rapid fluid loss and acted as a preservative to stop decay after death.

After six years of this, the monk would be locked in a small stone tomb with an air tube and a bell.

He would meditate in the lotus position until he died - signified when the bell stopped ringing.

The tomb would then be sealed for mummification before he became a Buddha.
GRISLY FIND

Samples were taken from inside the statue in 2015 - where instead of organs, scientists found rotten material and paper with ancient Chinese character prints.

The statue caused a rift between the Netherlands and China, after tests were carried out more than 20 years after it was allegedly stolen from China by a Dutch antique collector.

Community leaders in Yangchun Village, east China, repeatedly asked for its return before a case was brought to a Ductch court.

Last December it was reported Chinese and Dutch lawyers hadn't reached an agreement, and it is not known exactly where the statue is.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9125459/1000-year-old-buddhist-statue-skeleton-monk-inside/

 :emthup: :emthup:
I know exactly what you mean. Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is but its there, like a splinter in your mind

Offline Surly1

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The Chinese master is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by a few

THIS is the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk who meditated to death, encased inside a 1,000-year-old ancient statue.

Scientists scanned the Buddha and made the grisly discovery, when they saw bones of an ultra religious man clearly sat in the lotus position.


The ancient Buddhist statue was found to be holding a grisly secret


The remains of a monk, who died around 1100AD, in China was found inside

It is thought to be the remains of Zhang - known as Patriarch Zhanggong and Liuquan Zhanggong - who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School and died around 1100AD.

He is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by few. The aim was to become a living Buddha.

For the first 1,000 days monks stopped all food except nuts, seeds, and berries to strip body fat.

The next 1,000 days saw a diet of bark and roots before they consumed poisonous tea made from sap of the Urushi tree.

This caused vomiting and a rapid fluid loss and acted as a preservative to stop decay after death.

After six years of this, the monk would be locked in a small stone tomb with an air tube and a bell.

He would meditate in the lotus position until he died - signified when the bell stopped ringing.

The tomb would then be sealed for mummification before he became a Buddha.
GRISLY FIND

Samples were taken from inside the statue in 2015 - where instead of organs, scientists found rotten material and paper with ancient Chinese character prints.

The statue caused a rift between the Netherlands and China, after tests were carried out more than 20 years after it was allegedly stolen from China by a Dutch antique collector.

Community leaders in Yangchun Village, east China, repeatedly asked for its return before a case was brought to a Ductch court.

Last December it was reported Chinese and Dutch lawyers hadn't reached an agreement, and it is not known exactly where the statue is.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9125459/1000-year-old-buddhist-statue-skeleton-monk-inside/

 :emthup: :emthup:

Truly remarkable.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline knarf

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The Chinese master is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by a few

THIS is the mummified remains of a Buddhist monk who meditated to death, encased inside a 1,000-year-old ancient statue.

Scientists scanned the Buddha and made the grisly discovery, when they saw bones of an ultra religious man clearly sat in the lotus position.


The ancient Buddhist statue was found to be holding a grisly secret


The remains of a monk, who died around 1100AD, in China was found inside

It is thought to be the remains of Zhang - known as Patriarch Zhanggong and Liuquan Zhanggong - who belonged to the Chinese Meditation School and died around 1100AD.

He is believed to have carried out self mummification, in an ultra-religious move only practised by few. The aim was to become a living Buddha.

For the first 1,000 days monks stopped all food except nuts, seeds, and berries to strip body fat.

The next 1,000 days saw a diet of bark and roots before they consumed poisonous tea made from sap of the Urushi tree.

This caused vomiting and a rapid fluid loss and acted as a preservative to stop decay after death.

After six years of this, the monk would be locked in a small stone tomb with an air tube and a bell.

He would meditate in the lotus position until he died - signified when the bell stopped ringing.

The tomb would then be sealed for mummification before he became a Buddha.
GRISLY FIND

Samples were taken from inside the statue in 2015 - where instead of organs, scientists found rotten material and paper with ancient Chinese character prints.

The statue caused a rift between the Netherlands and China, after tests were carried out more than 20 years after it was allegedly stolen from China by a Dutch antique collector.

Community leaders in Yangchun Village, east China, repeatedly asked for its return before a case was brought to a Ductch court.

Last December it was reported Chinese and Dutch lawyers hadn't reached an agreement, and it is not known exactly where the statue is.

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/9125459/1000-year-old-buddhist-statue-skeleton-monk-inside/

 :emthup: :emthup:

Truly remarkable.

My older spiritual friend would go inward to his Buddha nature, and he would not eat or talk for a day or two, until his friends would "bring" him back. We all have different bodies, but we all have the same Buddha nature. As does all of what we perceive as our "world" and the ten- thousand things in it. :) 
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The Belligerence of Empire
« Reply #12805 on: May 23, 2019, 04:58:26 AM »


    “Capitalism’s gratuitous wars and sanctioned greed have jeopardized the planet and filled it with refugees. Much of the blame for this rests squarely on the shoulders of the government of the United States. Seventeen years after invading Afghanistan, after bombing it into the ‘stone age’ with the sole aim of toppling the Taliban, the US government is back in talks with the very same Taliban. In the interim it has destroyed Iraq, Libya and Syria. Hundreds of thousands have lost their lives to war and sanctions, a whole region has descended into chaos, ancient cities—pounded into dust.”

    – Arundhati Roy

    “As naturally as the ruled always took the morality imposed upon them more seriously than did the rulers themselves, the deceived masses are today captivated by the myth of success even more than the successful are. Immovably, they insist on the very ideology which enslaves them. The misplaced love of the common people for the wrong which is done to them is a greater force than the cunning of the authorities.”

    ― Theodor Adorno, Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philosophical Fragments

    “I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”

    ― Smedley Butler, War is a Racket

    “It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or nonexistence. And the alternative to disarmament, the alternative to a greater suspension of nuclear tests, the alternative to strengthening the United Nations and thereby disarming the whole world, may well be a civilization plunged into the abyss of annihilation, and our earthly habitat would be transformed into an inferno that even the mind of Dante could not imagine.”

    — Martin Luther King, Jr., Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution, 31 March 1968

Empire understands nothing except ruthless expansion. It has no other raison d’etre. In the past this meant the violent acquisition of lands and territories by a militarized system where caste was very apparent and visible. But today the dealings of empire are far more duplicitous. The ruling order of this age expands empire via the acquisition of capital while using the military industrial complex to police its exploits. But there is an insidious social conditioning at work which has led the general public to where it is today, a state of “inverted totalitarianism” as political philosopher Sheldon Wolin explained. Indeed, capitalism has morphed into the unassailable religion of the age even among the working class. Its tenets are still viewed as sacrosanct.

Violence is the sole language of empire. It is this only currency it uses to enforce its precepts and edicts, both at home and abroad. Eventually this language becomes internalized within the psyche of the subjects. Social and cultural conditioning maintained through constant subtle messaging via mass media begins to mold the public will toward that of authoritarian conformity. The American Empire is emblematic of this process. There is mass compliance to the dictates of the ruling class and this occurs most often without any prompting or debate whatsoever. In this dictatorship of money the poor are looked at with ridicule and contempt, and are often punished legally for their imposed poverty.

But the social conditioning of the American public has led toward a bizarre allegiance to its ruling class oppressors. Propaganda still works here and most are still besotted with the notion of America being a bastion of “freedom and democracy.” The growing gap between the ultra-wealthy and the poor and the gutting of civil liberties are ignored. And blind devotion is especially so when it comes to US foreign policy.

Most Americans still believe they live in the greatest country on the planet. They believe the American military to be noble and that they always reluctantly go into or are forced into war. Indeed, both the Democrats and Republicans possess an uncanny ability to bridge their ideological distances when it comes to defending US militarism, the Pentagon and the war machine of imperialism. But this is tied to the defense of capitalism, the ruling class, and the ultimate reason for war: the protection of that class’s global capital investments.

The persecution of Chelsea Manning, much like the case of Julian Assange, is demonstrative of this. It is a crusade against truth tellers that has been applauded from both sides of the American establishment, liberal and conservative alike. It does not matter that she helped to expose American war crimes. On the contrary, this is seen as heresy to the Empire itself. Manning’s crime was exposing the underbelly of the beast. A war machine which targeted and killed civilians and journalists by soldiers behind a glowing screen thousands of miles away, as if they were playing a video game.

Indeed, those deadened souls pulling the virtual trigger probably thought they were playing a video game since this is how the military seduced them to serve in their ranks in the first place. A kind of hypnotic, addictive, algorithmic tyranny of sorts. It is a form of escapism that so many young Americans are enticed by given their sad prospects in a society that has denuded the commons as well as their future. That it was a war based on lies against an impoverished nation already deeply weakened from decades of American led sanctions is inconsequential. Non-American life is routinely downgraded in comparisons to subjects of the Empire, even poor subjects, via rigorous conditioning, a prerequisite of military training. Flesh, bone and blood are reduced to a two dimensional drone image. The “other,” whether they be nationals of foreign lands or migrants, are mere avatars, projections of a psychic animus which have been painted by the ruling class as “threats to the homeland.”

The guardians of this narrative, those craven generals who delight in bloody forays but who wouldn’t dare place even a toe on a real battlefield, or the grim shadowy ghouls who haunt the halls of the Pentagon, or the purulent politicians who pontificate on meaningless terms like “American exceptionalism” and the “indispensable nation,” know how dangerous Chelsea Manning is to the daily workings of the death cult that is American Empire. She stands to expose the sham for what it is. And without working class kids to act as cannon fodder to protect the wealthy’s booty abroad they would be lost.

They fear Manning’s courage because they can neither plumb its depths nor navigate its landscape. It is an alien to them. Courage to them is the kind that comes in the form of mass murderers like sniper Chris Kyle, a psychopath mercenary in loyal service to the forces of capital. He, like the other servicemen and women in the military, protected the interests of oil companies, US weapons manufacturers and building contractors in conquered territories, but he embodies Americana more than any other figure today because he carried out the orders of empire without question. He killed the so called savages who supposedly threatened the American “way of life.” That he was an invader in their country is never challenged within the empire. On the contrary, the natives are cast as the “intruders” and “insurgents” while the invading military forces are portrayed as “freedom fighters” who are “defending the homeland” and spreading “democracy.”

Today Iran and Venezuela are once again in the crosshairs of the American Empire’s belligerence. Their defiance to the dominant socioeconomic order will simply not be tolerated by the global ruling caste, represented as the unquestioned “interests” of the United States. The imposed suffering on these nations has been twisted as proof that they are now in need of American salvation in the form of even more crippling sanctions, coups, neoliberal austerity and military intervention. As the corporate vultures lie in wait for the next carcass of a society to feed upon, the hawks are busy building the case for the continuation and expansion of capitalist wars of conquest.

Bolton and Pompeo are now the equivalent of the generals who carved up Numidia for the wealthy families of ancient Rome, with Trump, the half-witted, narcissistic and cruel emperor, presiding over the whole in extremis farce. Indeed, the bloated orange Emperor issued the latest of his decrees in his usual banal fashion, via tweet:

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”

One can query when Iran, or any other nation has ever “threatened” the United States, but that question will never be asked by the corporate press who are also in service to Empire. They are, in fact, its mouthpiece and advocate. The US has at least 900 military bases and colonial outposts scattered around the planet, yet this is never looked at as imperialistic in the least by the establishment, including its media. Scores of nations lie in ruins or are besieged with chaos and misery thanks to American bellicosity, from Libya to Iraq and beyond. But the US never looks back in regret at any of its multiple forays, not even a few years back.

To be sure the American Empire, which has seldom seen a year without pillage of another nation or region, is now facing its greatest nemesis. Unheeded lessons of the past have made it thoroughly inoculated to its own demise. In short, it is drunk on its hubris and unable to grapple with its inevitable descent. Climate change is ravaging the heartland with crops inundated from Iowa to Nebraska. The fire season in the west has become a never ending, year round event. Miami and much of Florida will eventually be flooded beyond economic viability, with New York, Houston and several other coastal cities to follow. How soon will troops be deployed in the heartland or on flooded, climate change ravaged streets? But alas, the American ruling class will continue to shew away the screeching canaries. They will cast the calamities and catastrophes as “opportunities” as Pompeo incredulously did in a speech about the rapidly melting Arctic.

American Empire knows no other language sans brutality, deceit and belligerence. It is rapidly militarizing our collective climate catastrophe and shoring up ways to secure its dominance and control of waning resources. As in every other war the Empire has launched, the coming ones will be drenched in lies. It will be to save the planet or the “future.” But like every other war it will be waged against the poorest of the earth, those whose carbon footprint is microscopic compared with the wealthy few. The global south whose presence is everywhere and yet rendered largely invisible. But these unheard voices are being viewed increasingly as a threat to a pure white world of plenty, and their dehumanization might undoubtedly lend itself to atrocities and genocide not ever seen before.

The American Empire, one of the shortest lived in human history, has become the biggest threat to humanity and the living biosphere itself. Its industries rape the soil and defile the water. Its military tortures and slaughters the poorest people and decimates the most vulnerable of species. And its corporate media inundates the collective psyche with propaganda and spectacle. It demolishes democratic movements at their onset and installs puppet leaders who do its bidding by starving or stealing from their own people. And it does all of this with impunity.

But like all empires it will eventually fall. Its endless and costly wars on behalf of capital investments and profiteering are contributing to that demise. After all, billions of dollars are spent to keep the bloated military industrial complex afloat in service to the ruling class while social and economic safety nets are torn to shreds. It is now building a $100 million dollar drone base in Africa and is still the owner of the world’s biggest nuclear arsenal. A society can only do this for so long before it collapses, and with climate change catastrophe on the horizon this game the Empire is playing will be sure to crash big and in a global manner. We can only hope that when it does there will be something left worth salvaging from the ruins of the earth it has so brutally laid siege to.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2019/05/23/111852/
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US weather: Tornadoes kill at least seven people
« Reply #12806 on: May 23, 2019, 05:11:38 AM »
At least seven people have been killed in weather-related deaths as tornadoes sweep across the US Midwest, local officials say.

Three fatalities were confirmed on Thursday in Golden City, Missouri.

Another two were killed in the state earlier in the week, along with one in Oklahoma and another in Iowa.

A tornado also struck Missouri's state capital, Jefferson City, bringing heavy rain, hail, wind and lightning.

Earlier, the US National Weather Service issued a rare "high warning" for severe storms in the region. It said at least 29 tornadoes had been reported in the last 24 hours and more than 170 since Friday.

On Wednesday night, emergency sirens were activated in Jefferson City - home to around 43,000 people - and the storm was spotted 20 minutes later.

"When it hit... it felt like an earthquake," local resident Cindy Sandoval-Jakobsen told CNN.

No deaths have been reported in the city, but images on social media show buildings ripped apart, power lines downed and trees uprooted. Thousands are believed to be without electricity.

"It's a chaotic situation right now," Jefferson City Police Lt David Williams told reporters. "We need people who are not affected to stay out of those areas".

Emergency officials have warned of flash flooding, and police in Tulsa, Oklahoma have advised residents living near Keystone Lake dam to begin evacuating.

The storms on Wednesday hit on the eighth anniversary of a tornado that killed 161 people in Joplin, a city in southeast Missouri.

More storms are expected to hit the Midwest on Thursday and Friday.

What do we know about the victims?

    Three people were killed when a tornado hit Golden City, the Missouri Department of Public Safety said on Thursday. No further details have been released
    On Tuesday, a woman was reportedly killed in Payne County, Oklahoma, after she drove her vehicle around a barricade and was swept away by flood water. She has not yet been named
    That same day, a couple were killed in Missouri when their vehicle slid on water along a highway and hit a tractor-trailer. Associated Press news agency has named them as Brandon Beasley, 23, and his wife, Christin Beasley, 24
    On Wednesday, Linda Brownlee, 74, was killed by a tornado in Iowa. Her husband was injured

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-48379230

...

Lots of pictures of the tornado and high wind damage posted the last 24 hours at:

https://www.google.com/search?q=midwest+tornado+damage&client=firefox-b-1-d&tbm=isch&source=lnt&tbs=qdr:d&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjNpab0zrHiAhVGwVkKHQKGAGoQpwUIHw&biw=1320&bih=730&dpr=1.25
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Amazon workers demand Bezos act on climate crisis
« Reply #12807 on: May 23, 2019, 05:19:48 AM »
At a shareholder meeting Wednesday, the CEO refused to address workers urging the company to overhaul its climate policy


The group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice is urging the company to take action on the climate crisis.

Amazon’s chief executive officer, Jeff Bezos, refused to address employees demanding the company take action on the climate crisis at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

About 50 members of the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice attended the event, representing 7,700 staffers who signed a letter publicly urging Amazon to overhaul its climate policy. Employees put forth a proposal at the meeting requesting a public report on climate change from Amazon’s board of directors. The board suggested shareholders vote against it, and it was not passed.

After the proposal failed to pass, employees attempted to confront Bezos, who declined to meet with them.

“Jeff remained off-stage, ignored the employees and would not speak to them,” the group said in a statement after the event. “Jeff’s inaction and lack of meaningful response underscore his dismissal of the climate crisis and spoke volumes about how Amazon’s board continues to de-prioritize addressing Amazon’s role in the climate emergency.”

Shareholders voted at the meeting on Wednesday on proposals including changes in how Amazon shares data on gender pay equity to a ban on the sale of facial recognition software. All 15 proposals failed to pass.

The climate proposal requested a report outlining how Amazon “is planning for disruptions posed by climate change” and “reducing company-wide dependence on fossil fuels”, citing Amazon’s coal-powered data centers and the amount of gasoline burnt for package deliveries. At a press conference following the shareholder meeting, the employees suggested Amazon should put forth a timeline for reaching a zero emission goal.

“Amazon has the scale and resources to spark the world’s imagination and lead the way on addressing the climate crisis,” said Jamie Kowalski, a software engineer who co-filed the resolution and attended the shareholder meeting. “What we’re missing is leadership from the very top of the company.”

The proposal noted that other tech giants had released reports on their contributions to climate change and have committed to addressing concerns. Microsoft has been carbon neutral, meaning it balances its carbon emissions with carbon removal, since 2012 and has pledged to decrease its operational carbon emissions 75% by 2030. Google has been carbon neutral since 2007.

A spokesman from Amazon confirmed that none of the shareholder proposals outlined ahead of the vote were passed, including the request for a report on climate change. In its response to the proposal, Amazon’s board noted it has committed to reaching a net zero carbon footprint on 50% of shipments by 2030. Amazon also has a plan to power its global infrastructure, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), with sustainable energy. Other cloud providers including Google and Azure offset energy usage for hosting to reach a zero carbon footprint while AWS does not.

The board said it agreed that “planning for potential disruptions posed by climate change and reducing company-wide dependence on fossil fuels are important” but said Amazon was “already doing this” and suggested shareholders vote against the proposal. The employee group said in the press conference that the board’s stance on the proposal made it difficult to pass. They said they would continue to pressure Amazon.

“Because the board still does not understand the severity of the climate crisis, we will file this resolution again next year,” said Weston Fribley, another software engineer who co-filed the resolution. “We will announce other actions in the coming months. We – Amazon’s employees – have the talent and experience to remake entire industries with incredible speed. This is work we want to do.”

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/may/22/amazon-workers-climate-crisis-board-jeff-bezos
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Mapping the PFAS Contamination Crisis: New Data Show 610 Sites in 43 States
« Reply #12808 on: May 23, 2019, 05:26:46 AM »
WHY IS THIS MAP IMPORTANT?

The known extent of contamination of American communities with the highly toxic fluorinated compounds known as PFAS continues to grow at an alarming rate. As of March 2019, 610 locations in 43 states are now known to be affected, including drinking water systems serving an estimated 19 million people.

The latest update of an interactive map by EWG and the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute, at Northeastern University, documents publicly known PFAS pollution in public water systems and military bases, airports, industrial plants and dumps, and firefighter training sites. (Details on our sources and methodology are here.)

PFAS compounds are a family of thousands of chemicals used in a wide array of consumer and industrial applications – nonstick cookware, waterproof clothing, grease-resistant food packaging, firefighting foam and many more. Studies link very low concentrations of some PFAS chemicals to cancer, thyroid disease, weakened childhood immunity and other health problems. PFAS chemicals pollute the blood of virtually all Americans, including newborn babies, and they persist forever in the environment.

Go to the site to use the map.

More About The Map

    Michigan is the state with the most locations on the map, with 192. The state’s PFAS contamination problem is severe, but the high number also reflects the state’s ongoing comprehensive multi-agency effort to test for PFAS. Michigan environmental officials have estimated that more than 11,000 sites in the state may be contaminated with PFAS. California has 47 known contamination sites and New Jersey has 43.
    The map shows contamination of 117 military sites, including 77 military airports, a legacy of the Pentagon’s 50-year history of using firefighting foam with PFAS.
    The estimate of 19 million Americans served by PFAS-contaminated water systems is imprecise, since public water systems don’t know how many people live or work at the addresses they serve. But the number may be much higher. An EWG analysis of unreleased Environmental Protection Agency test data estimated that more than 1,500 drinking water systems, serving up to 110 million Americans, may be contaminated with PFAS chemicals.

https://www.ewg.org/interactive-maps/2019_pfas_contamination/
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WestJet pilot eyes burned by green laser light while flying to Orlando
« Reply #12809 on: May 23, 2019, 06:28:22 AM »

A laser is pointed into the cockpit of an airplane



A WestJet pilot flying from Newfoundland to Orlando International Airport had his eyes burned by a green laser light, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration officials said Wednesday.

Spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said in an email that the WestJet Airlines aircraft was about 40 kilometres from the airport when the laser light hit the pilot. The flight landed safely a short time later, and the pilot was placed on medical leave, which is routine in such cases.

The airline said in a statement that the incident took place Saturday but gave few details, citing privacy concerns.

“Any pilot who reports being struck by a laser is required for safety and health reasons to have an ophthalmology evaluation,” spokeswoman Morgan Bell said in an email.

Bell said laser incidents pose a “serious concern” for crew and aircraft safety and are immediately reported to local authorities for investigation.

“Pilots are extremely focused during all phases of flight, but especially during take-off and landing, when most laser incidents occur,” she said.

“When any sort of light enters the flight deck, pilots are trained to look away and maintain focus but they must also remain vigilant with respect to their surroundings and monitor the apron prior to landing.”

The FAA is investigating the incident. The agency said it had notified the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office, which sent a deputy to a central Florida address pinpointed as a possible source of the light.

The sheriff’s office said no one at the location had any knowledge of the incident and said they don’t have a laser pointer.

Last year, the Canadian government announced strict new measures to ban most high-powered lasers around airports and in the country’s three largest cities due to the dangers they pose when aimed at aircraft.

The interim measures bar anyone from possessing a battery-operated hand-held laser over one milliwatts outside a private residence without a legitimate purpose, such as for work or education.

The rules apply to municipalities in the greater Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver areas, as well as within 10 kilometres of any Canadian airport or heliport.

Penalties for those convicted of deliberately targeting aircraft include fines of up to $100,000, five years in prison, or both, though the government has acknowledged that prosecutions are rare given the difficulty of catching people in the act.

However, the new rules also allow investigators to hand out fines of up to $5,000 for anyone caught with a hand-held laser in a prohibited zone without a reason. Corporations can face up to $25,000.

Transport Canada reported 379 incidents of lasers pointed at planes in 2017, most of which occurred in Ontario and Quebec.

https://toronto.citynews.ca/2019/05/22/westjet-pilot-eyes-burned-by-green-laser-light-while-flying-to-orlando/
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