Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Latest Indian Rape Outrage

A 10-year-old Indian girl was raped and impregnated. A court denied her an abortion.

Derek Hawkins, July 20, 2017 5:19 am. (The Washington Post)

court in India on Tuesday ordered a 10-year-old girl whose parents say she was raped and impregnated by her uncle to carry her fetus to term, ruling she is too young and her pregnancy too advanced to have an abortion.

The girl, who has not been identified, is six months pregnant and sought medical attention after her maternal uncle allegedly raped her several times, CBS News reported.

The district court in the northern city of Chandigarh based its decision on an opinion by a panel of doctors from the city’s Government Medical College and Hospital, where the girl was examined, according to the hospital’s medical superintendent.

"If you abort then the risk to life is greater,” the superintendent told The Washington Post in a brief phone interview Wednesday.

1970s law in India known as the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act bars abortions beyond 20 weeks, though courts have made exceptions if the fetus is not viable or if the mother’s life is at risk.

According to CBS, the hospital’s eight-member panel determined that the fetus was viable and could survive even if it was delivered immediately. CBS quoted an unnamed senior doctor on the panel who said abortion was “not an option at this stage."

The hospital told the Times of India on Tuesday: “The victim is six months pregnant, as revealed by her ultrasound reports. We have submitted our medical advice to the court regarding termination of the foetus."

The girl’s parents found out their daughter was pregnant after she complained of stomach pains, according to the Indian Express. She later reportedly told her mother that her uncle had raped her a half-dozen times when he visited the family home. The uncle was arrested, and the parents petitioned the court for an abortion, the Indian Express reported.


Monday, July 10, 2017

Avebury Reveals A Buried Ancient Stone Square Enclosing a Circle

From Live Science

Secret Square Discovered Beneath Neolithic Stone Monument


Hidden beneath the world's largest prehistoric stone circle, archaeologists in England have discovered an even older, secret square-shaped megalithic monument.
"Our research has revealed previously unknown megaliths inside the world-famous Avebury stone circle. We have detected and mapped a series of prehistoric standing stones that were subsequently hidden and buried, along with the positions of others likely destroyed during the 17th and 18th centuries," Mark Gillings, academic director and reader in archaeology in the School of Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Leicester, said in a statement. "Together, these reveal a striking and apparently unique square megalithic monument within the Avebury circles that has the potential to be one of the very earliest structures on this remarkable site."

The new finds are shocking for such an old site, which has been extensively studied by archaeologists since the 1600s. The Avebury site in Wiltshire, southwest England, is one of the most mysterious ancient monuments in the country. The  Neolithic monument was built largely between 4,850 and 4,200 years ago, according to English Heritage. Along with Stonehenge, Silbury Hill and Windmill Hill, the newfound monuments may have formed a vast sacred landscape that ancient people used for rituals and communal gatherings whose purpose remains shrouded in mystery.
The site of Avebury consists of a vast circular henge — of which all that remains is a 3,270-foot-across (1,000 meters) circular ditch and embankments — and an inner stone circle, which was once composed of nearly 100 massive, upright boulders and two smaller inner stone circles.
In 1939, Alexander Keiller, heir to a marmalade fortune and an amateur archaeologist, noticed that some of the stones in the inner circle seemed to be angular in their alignment. He believed the faint hint of a square may have been the remnants of a medieval cart shed, according to the statement. World War II soon broke out, and Keiller was unable to continue his archaeological surveys.
In the current study, Gillings used a technique called ground-penetrating radar, which maps the resistance of the Earth to the sound waves. He found several interesting features: A number of high-resistance objects (presumably buried stones), as well as lower resistance patches (possibly more deeply buried stones or construction debris), along with low-resistance areas (likely destruction pits). The orientation of these buried stones forms a square, Gillings reported in the study, which has not yet been submitted to a journal for peer review.

It turned out that the angular setting of stones that Keiller had discovered formed a stone square that enclosed a circular feature known as the Obelisk. While circular monuments from the late Neolithic period are common, square monuments were oddities at that time, the researchers noted.
The findings could shed light on why the Avebury monument was built — one possibility is that the square demarcates the boundaries of a first house or settlement in the area, which was then used as the center of the inner circle, the researchers speculate in the study.
"The completion of the work first started by Keiller in the 1930s has revealed an entirely new type of monument at the heart of the world's largest prehistoric stone circle, using techniques he never dreamt of.  And goes to show how much more is still to be revealed at Avebury if we ask the right questions," Nick Snashall, National Trust archaeologist at Avebury, said in the statement. 


******************************
Hola, darlings!  I thought this was a pretty interesting discovery, especially after all this time, Holy Hathor.  It appears that the ideas of ancient man, which archaeologists often say we "do not understand or know the purpose of..." blah blah blah, were actually well understood and adopted/adapted throughout the world in various cultures, often very early on.  So either diffusion spread some ideas like wildfire or independent origination of similar concepts were arising, often nearly simultaneously, in different cultures around the globe, or maybe there was one originating civilization from which concepts were carried away across the globe as mankind spread out.  Hmmm...  Only the Shadow Knows.

I was reminded of a couple of different, but related, concepts regarding circles and squares.  The first is very ancient and is Chinese - the square within the circle.  Briefly generalizing, in Chinese thought the Earth is "square" and the Heavens are "round" (a sphere encompassing the square plane of the Earth, or a dome [half of a sphere] hovering over it. The older buried square shape within the larger circle of Avebury certainly fits this description.  Here's a classic example from China - embodied in a coin:

Introduced by Emperor Wang Mang circa 9CE -
"HSIAO-CH'UAN CHIH-YI" (small coin value one).
Source: Calgary Coin.
The concept of the square Earth and the "round" Heavens, however, dates back to the mid-4th millennium BCE.  

Both Orthodox and Roman Catholic tradition also uses the symbolism of the square "Earth" and the round "Heavens."  A nice summary of Orthodox traditions can be found in this 2014 article from the Orthodox Arts Journal.  Here's a classic example in Byzantine architecture, the famous Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (f/k/a Constantinople), built in :

Hagia Sofia Greek Orthodox Basilica, Byzantine, built 532-537 CE.
Source.  You can see the outline of the original basilica, a square
(four corners) with a large circular dome over the center of the square.
The minarets are from the mosque(s) added later when Constantinople
was conquered by the Muslims.  This photo also contains a round
fountain enclosed within a square park (entire park not shown in photo).
Interesting, n'est ce pas?  More about the circle within the square below.

The other use of the circle and square symbolism is claimed by the Masons as part of their mystical tradition. It is perhaps best embodied in the Vitruvian Man:

The image above is from Richard Cassaro's website.  The first depiction is Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (1487).  He also shows other "Vitruvian Men" drawn by other artists during the 11th to 16th centuries CE.  Cassaro stated: "Note how da Vinci draws The Vitrivian Man inside a squared circle: he understood the implications of the Masonic doctrine."  Essentially, the square represented the human condition or the human body (the "Earth") and the circle represented the Divine within us (the "Heavens").  

Before leaving the topic of circle within a square and square within a circle symbolism, let's just look at a representation of circle within a square in Roman Catholic architecture - often embodied in basilicas, cathedrals and churches all around the world:
Florence Cathedral.  Sourcehttp://www.aviewoncities.com/gallery/showpicture.htm?key=kveit2757.  
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris.  Source.  
Orvieto Cathedral, Italy.  Source.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

New Study of Mitochondrial DNA in Neanderthal Bones Reveals More About Our Origins

They're getting closer and closer and closer...to the truth.  I made a few notes, denoted in brackets within the text.

From The New York Times, July 4, 2017, by Carl Zimmer:

In Neanderthal DNA, Signs of a Mysterious Human Migration

With fossils and DNA, scientists are piecing together a picture of humanity’s beginnings, an origin story with more twists than anything you would find at the movie theater.

The expert consensus now is that Homo sapiens evolved at least 300,000 years ago in Africa. Only much later — roughly 70,000 years ago — did a small group of Africans establish themselves on other continents, giving rise to other populations of people today.

To Johannes Krause, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Human History in Germany, that gap seems peculiar. “Why did people not leave Africa before?” he asked in an interview. After all, he observed, the continent is physically linked to the Near East. “You could have just walked out."

In a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications, Dr. Krause and his colleagues report that Africans did indeed walk out — over 270,000 years ago.

Based on newly discovered DNA in fossils, the researchers conclude that a wave of early Homo sapiens, or close relatives of our species, made their way from Africa to Europe. There, they interbred with Neanderthals.

Then the ancient African migrants disappeared. But some of their DNA endured in later generations of Neanderthals.

"This is now a comprehensive picture,” Dr. Krause said. “It brings everything together."


Friday, July 7, 2017

Sotheby's Presents: Identifying the Subject of a Portrait

Very interesting.  I wasn't even sure that WAS a woman in the portrait.  Hmmm...

"When this painting by Jan Sanders Van Hemessen arrived at Sotheby’s, specialists had trouble identifying the strangely dressed sitter. In this episode of The Costumist, Jonquil O’Reilly introduces court performer Elizabet and discusses her unusual garments and jewellery – clues that led to the discovery of her identity. This exceptional artwork soared past its estimate and sold for £2.16 million at Sotheby’s  Old Masters sale in London on 5 July 2017."



Link.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Sacred Cow and Her "Singing" Crow

From The Washington Post:

In my imagination, I can hear the crow singing, and as this sacred cow in a sanctuary in India listens, she could be Isis, reminiscing of the freedom and the millions of worshippers She used to have, before the patriarchal war gods took over the world and ruined it for all of us.  The poignancy of this photograph deeply touched my heart.

Important 5,200 Year Old Pictoral Symbols Discovered in Elkab Desert Region of Egypt

A rock panel featuring depictions of a bull’s head on a short pole followed by two back-to-back saddlebill storks with a bald ibis bird above and between them.MINISTRY OF ANTIQUITIES
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN WRITING: NEW SYMBOLS REVEAL DEVELOPMENT OF HIEROGLYPHICS The elegant pictorial writing system of the ancient Egyptians—known as hieroglyphics—has fascinated generations of archeologists. Its precise origins are uncertain. One ancient Egyptian legend holds that the god Thoth handed the gift of writing to a few chosen scribes. A more prosaic modern theory suggests that they derived from rock pictures produced by prehistoric hunting societies wandering the desert.
Now, a new discovery may hold some clues as to how carved images evolved into a formal writing system. According to a Facebook post by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, a new rock inscription site discovered around 60 km south of Luxor in the village of El-Khawy “helps in understanding the development of a system of graphic communication that sets the stage for the appearance of true hieroglyphic writing.”
Now, a new discovery may hold some clues as to how carved images evolved into a formal writing system. According to a Facebook post by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, a new rock inscription site discovered around 60 km south of Luxor in the village of El-Khawy “helps in understanding the development of a system of graphic communication that sets the stage for the appearance of true hieroglyphic writing.”
The inscriptions date back around 5,200 years and each individual sign is about half a meter in height. “This is the first time that anyone has seen them on such a massive scale,” Darnell said. He said the team was “absolutely flabbergasted” by the size of the discovery.

According to Yale, they are significant not only for their unique size, but also because they show that even in its very earliest phases, the use of hieroglyphic writing was widespread and not confined to the offices of dusty bureaucrats as some had previously argued.
“This also suggests that there is a much more expansive use of the early writing system than is indicated from other surviving archeological material,” Darnell said.

The researchers found the inscriptions in the northern desert landscape of Elkab. This area, along with a city called Hierakonpolis across the river, were extremely important settlements in ancient Egypt, Darnell said.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Milwaukee Summer Challenge

Hola!

I have cross-table results from the USCF website - no official word yet on prize money distributed to chess femmes who played in the tournament.

No ladies played in the Master/Expert section (over 2000).

In the U2000 section (36 players):

 10 | MADELINE L WEBER                |3.5  |L   4|W  33|D   7|W  30|W  20|
   WI | 15631341 / R: 1534   ->1640     |     |W    |B    |W    |B    |W    |

 12 | GAURI MENON                     |3.0  |W  29|L   6|H    |D  11|W  23|
   WI | 15187152 / R: 1736   ->1738     |     |B    |W    |     |W    |B    |

 19 | MEGAN CHEN                      |2.5  |D  20|L  16|W  36|L   7|W  31| 
   IL | 13453097 / R: 1539 ->1559 | |W |W |B |B |W |


  25 | ARADH KAUR                      |2.0  |L   6|W  29|L  22|W  32|L  11|
   WI | 15085398 / R: 1461   ->1460     |     |B    |W    |B    |W    |B    |

 34 | SANDRA R HOFFMAN                |1.0  |L   8|L  15|L  33|L  35|B    | 
   WI | 10318033 / R: 1372 ->1306 | |B |B |W |B | |

In the U1000 section (9 players):

   4 | NORA LITMAN                     |2.5  |B    |L   6|W   9|D   3|
   MN | 16011232 / R:  389   -> 483     |     |     |B    |W    |W    | 
      | Q: 200P14-> 346P17 | | | | | |

    9 | TANYA SHANMUGASUNDARAM          |1.0  |L   8|W   7|L   4|L   6|
   WI | 15920784 / R:  631P11-> 581P15  |     |W    |B    |B    |W    | 
      | Q: 585P11-> 505P15 | | | | | |

Added June 13, 2017:

Hola darlings!  Here are the SEVEN chess femmes who participated, along with any prizes they won (below).  I also updated the cross tables above to add Gauri Menon's and Aradh Kaur's results.  I had not included them in my initial blog post, my apologies to the ladies!

U2000 Section:

Madeline Weber: $90.00
Gauri Menon: $90.00
Megan Chen: $65.00 (from Illinois)
Aradh Kaur: $50.00
Sandra Hoffman: Did not win or draw a game.

U1000 Section:

Nora Litman: $15.00 (from Minnesota!)
Tanya Shanmugasundaram: $10.00

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Place Your Bets on the Comey v. Trump Chess Match of the Century (NOT)

Hola darlings!  It's hot as Hell out there plus tres humid today, and the roaring winds out of the southwest aren't providing much relief.  I was out earlier this morning planting flowers and intended to do some lawn patches with a sad roll of sod I bought 2 weeks ago but retreated into the cool, dry air of my centrally air-conditioned home by 9 a.m.   Holy Hathor!  The poor sod will have to wait at least a few more days.  Tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter than today.  UGH!

Take a look at this --



It is so Goddesschess delish -- the smoking King, LOL!  The King represents Donald J. Trump - and you can guess who at least some the pawns are (James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, closing in for the kill...)  The Arab translation of the original Middle Persian "Shah Mat" -- the King is dead -- in this instance is dead on :)  I lifted it this morning from an opinion piece at The New York Times.

I read and watch online a host of various news sources and political commentary now that I experiencing the wonderferous splendor of seemingly unlimited time on my hands in retirement!  Ahhhhhhhh, Divine, darlings, just Divine!  My day is not complete unless I make several snarky comments at Politico and on occasion I even show up on various far-right websites as the crazy bitch bomb-thrower...  I drive the Nazis in my family incessantly crazy by continually trolling their Facebook feeds with videos of Bill Maher, Steven Colbert and the man of my dreams, Keith Olbermann (who knew radical left intensity could be so damn sexy, wooo wooo!)

I make no bones about my political leanings.  And it delights me when I see -  usually around election time only - analogies between chess and politics.  That we are seeing many such analogies in the media since January 20, 2017 speaks  to the continuous stream of Trump scandals and high drama flowing out of the White House on a seemingly daily basis  (mostly caused by the Big-Mouth-in-Chief himself).  It feels like a thousand years of being stuck in a continuously repeating time loop of continuous insanity out of the White House, but it's been only about 4 1/2 months that Trump has been in office.  HOLY HATHOR!

Is it only me, or is anyone else experiencing increasing visions of Major Kong riding the nuke all the way down from the B-52 from 1964's classic "Dr. Strangelove:"

Monday, June 5, 2017

Excellent Article on GM Wesley So, U.S. Chess Champion

It's not often you see a major newspaper feature a story on an American chess champion, so I took note of this one even though it's about a male player, and I don't generally follow news on them.

U.S. chess champion is now ranked No. 2 in the world. Opponents fear he’s still getting better.

By Chuck Culpepper, June 5, 2017

Hint to Author: Please don't write about So as if he's a 12 year old boy with the giggles, and please do not attempt to depict chess as some sort of fierce war game.  So is not a 12 year old boy with giggles and chess is not a fierce war game - it is so much more than that.  It is akin to a multidimensional mathematical equation being worked out in the form of dance and music on 65 squares (no, that is not a typo).  It also has nothing to do with "death," per se, but it certainly can lead to achieving enlightenment and a breakthrough, if only temporary, to the invisible realms where one can feel and "see" the immortal.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Wisconsin International Chess Festival

I posted about my adopted chess club's Milwaukee Summer Challenge (June 10 - 11, 2017, Olympia Resort Hotel, Oconomowoc, Wisconsin) in the post just below.

Here is another Wisconsin tournament - an international gathering, a FIDE-rated event with norms available!!!  LOVE seeing this kind of event taking place in Wisconsin!!!


JUNE 13-18, 2017
Madison, Wisconsin  USA
SUMMARY
The Wisconsin International Chess Festival is a 9 round Swiss event with GM 
and IM norm possibilities. It is hosted in the heart of Wisconsin’s Howard 
Johnson Plaza Hotel in Madison, Wisconsin (3841 East Washington Avenue, 
608-244-2481) FREE breakfast, FREE internet, FREE parking, $79 single or 
double, reserve by June 1st and mention CHESS. Wisconsin state capital with
multiple attractions within walking or short driving distance.

Click Here to Register

TRANSPORTATION
FREE shuttle from Madison Airport. From Chicago (O’Hare or Midway) take 
Van Galder Bus:  http://www.coachusa.com/vangalder/ss.tickets.asp. From 
Milwaukee Airport (General Mitchell) take Badger Bus: 
https://www.badgerbus.com/

PRIZES
Guaranteed: $3,000-$2,000-$1,000-$500-$500, top u2450 $500, top u2250  
$500  Minimum Prizes (must complete all 9 rounds): $500 for foreign GMs 
(first 5), $100 for all foreign FIDE rated players.

Entry Fee
GMs free, no deduction from prizes; IMs $159, FIDE 2200+ $249, FIDE u2200 
$299, FIDE unrated $349. $50 more after 5/15, $100 more after 6/5. All players 
must confirm their arrival by 4pm on 6/13 in order to be paired for round one.  
$20 service charge for refunds.

HOTEL: Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel 608-244-2481, $79 single or double, 
reserve by June 1st and mention CHESS.

TIME CONTROL: 40/90, SD/30, 30 sec/move increment.

PLAYING SCHEDULE:
  • Round 1: 6pm Tuesday, June 13th
  • Round 2: 11am Wed, June 14th
  • Round 3: 6pm Wed, June 14th
  • Round 4: 11am Thu, June 15th
  • Round 5: 6pm Thu, June 15th
  • Round 6: 11am Fri, June 16th
  • Round 7: 6pm Fri, June 16th
  • Round 8: 11am Sat, June 17th
  • Round 9: 11am Sun, June 18th
BLITZ
Saturday, June 17th at 7 pm. A five (5) round double Swiss, $500 minimum prize 
fund.  Registration for Blitz Tournament is $50, on site only.
Click Here to Register
Eight GMs are already registered along with four IMs.

Excellent Wisconsin chess femmes WFM Rachel Ulrich (USA 2073) and her sister Susanna Ulrich (USA1799) are registered to play, as are Megan Chen (USA 1391) (Megan is also registered to play in the Milwaukee Summer Challenge June 10 - 11), Merissa Wongso (USA 1106), from Arizona, Nevada, #27 on the Top Girls Age 9 USCF List (as of September 2016), and Harshita Guddanti (IND 2023).


Milwaukee Summer Challenge VI!!!!!!!

Hola darlings!

I hope you are enjoying your summer.  It's a hot and humid one here today, over 90, whew!  Crazy weather is the "new normal."  We use to rarely experience weather like this until mid-to-end of July into August.  I remember weather from about the later-1950's forward.  I was born here in 1951 and have lived here all my life, so I KNOW Milwaukee weather -- or, at least, I used to before climate changes accelerated.

It's that time of year again.  Summer in my dear dear city, Milwaukee.  The Milwaukee Summer Challenge sponsored by Southwest Chess Club is held not too far away, at a beautiful resort in Oconomowoc - so you get to enjoy a beautiful short drive and can see the ever-growing exburbs, farms, and lush greenery due to our abundant rainfall so far this year and a spring that hit in February (forget March - it was awful), and has gotten warmer and warmer since then!  Dates: June 10 - 11, 2017 at the Olympia Resort Hotel.

Goddesschess is sponsoring new prizes this year - we're trying out a different prize structure to encourage more chess femmes to participate and to also "play up" in the higher ELO brackets, where the prizes increase accordingly:

(Goddesschess prizes are awarded in addition to any other prize for which a female player may win):

Open Only to 2000 and Above: $50 per win/$25 per draw; 
U2000: $25 per win/$15 per draw; 
U1000: $10 per win/$5 per draw.

Flyer (with Registration form attached).


Master/Expert Section (open only to 2000 and above) 4SS, G/90+30, EF $40; rounds Sat 10, 3:30; Sun 10, 3; $$GTD: 1st=$300, 2nd=$200, 3rd=$100;  TROPHIES PLUS GRAND PRIX POINTS: 10.
Under 2000 Section 5SS, G/120,d5, EF $40; rounds Sat 10, 2:30, 7 and Sun 10, 3; $$GTD: 1st=$150, U1500=$80.
Under 1000 Section 4SS, G60,d5, EF $25; rounds (Sat only) 10, 1, 3:30, 6; $$GTD: 1st=$50
Goddesschess prizes for Females in addition to above prizes:  Open: $50 per win/$25 per draw; U2000: $25 per win/$15 per draw; U1000: $10 per win/$5 per draw.
Reg: 8:30-9:30, EF: $10 more in each section after June 9; Olympia Resort Hotel, 1350 Royale Mile Rd., Oconomowoc, WI; 1-800-558-9573; (Mention Southwest Chess Club for $99 room rate).
ENTRIES TO: Robin Grochowski, 3835 E Morris Ave, Cudahy, WI 53110 or rgrochowski@wi.rr.com.  Questions to: TD Chris Wainscott 414-839-5232.


I hope you will join the wonderful team from Southwest Chess Club for the Milwaukee Summer Challenge, who put on really nice tournaments and are just great, great people (that's why Goddesschess adopted them as our (and MY) chess club).  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trump Buried Under His Own Covfefe

Oh my my my my.  Well, my poor fellow Americans, whatever your political persuasion may be, one thing is certain.  Covfefe will forever go down in history as the code doomsday word issued forth from the tweeting idiot in the White House laughingly referred to in the greater world as the *president of the United States of America.  Sad.  Bigly.

I try to refrain from turning Goddesschess into too overtly a political venting outlet for my boo-hiss LIBERAL ways for which I shall no doubt burn in Hell forever and ever, and never be one of the seventy Virgins in Paradise, but this was just too deliciously hilarious to pass up.  Truly, Orange One has outdone himself this time.

"'[A]fter Mrs. Clinton at a public appearance said she suspected collusion with the Russians and joked that “covfefe” was a secret code to Moscow, Mr. Trump fired back on Twitter: “Crooked Hillary Clinton now blames everybody but herself, refuses to say she was a terrible candidate.” She responded with her own tweet: “People in covfefe houses shouldn’t throw covfefe.'

Less Tweeting, Lawyers Beg.  'Covfefe,' the *president says.  New York Times, by Peter Baker and Glenn Thrush, May 31, 2017.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Child Brides - In the United States

OMGoddess!  I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out while reading this article.  I figured many states in the backwards south, still stuck in the early part of the 1700s, would allow "underage" marriage (legal child rape) - but I was shocked and appalled by the sheer number of marriages in the United States of girls as young as 11 - forced marriages to avoid statutory rape charges by adult males and backwards, ignorant  and/or "religious" alleged adults who are "parents" of these children being forced into an unwanted rape relationship. DISGUSTING.

11 Years Old, a Mom, and Pushed to Marry Her Rapist in Florida

 

When she was a scrawny 11-year-old, Sherry Johnson found out one day that she was about to be married to a 20-year-old member of her church who had raped her.

"It was forced on me,” she recalls. She had become pregnant, she says, and child welfare authorities were investigating — so her family and church officials decided the simplest way to avoid a messy criminal case was to organize a wedding.

"My mom asked me if I wanted to get married, and I said, ‘I don’t know, what is marriage, how do I act like a wife?’” Johnson remembers today, many years later. “She said, ‘Well, I guess you’re just going to get married.’"

So she was. A government clerk in Tampa, Fla., refused to marry an 11-year-old, even though this was legal in the state, so the wedding party went to nearby Pinellas County, where the clerk issued a marriage license. The license (which I’ve examined) lists her birth date, so officials were aware of her age.

Not surprisingly, the marriage didn’t work out — two-thirds of marriages of underage girls don’t last, one study found — but it did interrupt Johnson’s attendance at elementary school. Today she is campaigning for a state law to curb underage marriages, part of a nationwide movement to end child marriage in America. Meanwhile, children 16 and under are still being married in Florida at a rate of one every few days.

You’re thinking: “Child marriage? That’s what happens in Bangladesh or Tanzania, not America!"



In fact, more than 167,000 young people age 17 and under married in 38 states between 2000 and 2010, according to a search of available marriage license data by a group called Unchained at Last, which aims to ban child marriage. The search turned up cases of 12-year-old girls married in Alaska, Louisiana and South Carolina, while other states simply had categories of “14 and younger."


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Not Evidence of "Evolution" - Evidence of Conceptual Intelligence

I missed this somehow in 2016 when the story came out, I think, so I'm posting it here now, from The Washington Post:

170,000 years before Stonehenge, Neanderthals built their own incredible structure

Sarah Kaplan, May 26, 2016

A 3D reconstruction of the structures in the Bruniquel Cave. (Xavier Muth - Get in Situ, Archéotransfert, Archéovision -SHS-3D, base photographique Pascal Mora).
This deep inside the cave, sunlight was just a memory. Mineral-laden water dripped from the ceiling, accumulating on spiny stalagmites below. Every footstep echoed and long shadows cast by the fires danced on the damp, rugged walls.

Hundreds of centuries ago, someone trudged into that foreboding darkness. Methodically, they broke apart hundreds of stalagmites and arranged the pieces in cryptic piles on the cave floor: two stone rings, one vast and one small, and several piles containing charred rock. They may have been holding a religious ceremony. Or perhaps they simply needed a place to cook away from the cave bears and the cold. The purpose of these structures remains an enigma.

But their creators are not. In a study in the journal Nature, scientists report that these strange stalagmite piles found in the south of France were formed roughly 176,000 years ago by Neanderthals.


Friday, May 5, 2017

Gigantic Sandstorm Blankets Beijing - Again

Hola everyone!

Well, not a good way to start off the morning, but I had to report this as I don't know how many of you read The New York Times daily like I now have the luxury of time to do (since being retired).  This is just frightening to me.

And when I consider that if Orange One (Donald J. Trump, our illegitimate *president), gets his way, the United States could very well look like this in just a few years when he guts the Environmental Protection Agency and sells off our national heritage to big multi-nationals while slashing environmental protections for all Americans.

Dust Storms Blanket Beijing and Northern China
By Gerry Mullany May 5, 2017

The central business district in Beijing on April 25, left, and on Thursday, after a dust storm swept through. Such storms have become increasingly common for the region as China’s deserts expand.CreditNicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
HONG KONG — Dust storms enveloped parts of northern China for a second day on Friday, reducing visibility in cities like Beijing and threatening the health of millions of people.
Such storms have become an increasingly common phenomenon for the region, as China’s deserts expand by gobbling up roughly 1,300 square miles a year. A half-century ago, such storms happened every seven or eight years; now they are an annual occurrence.
The storms typically happen in the spring, as strong winds send soil and sand from the Gobi Desert over northern China and even the Korean Peninsula.
This week’s dust storms led to the cancellation of scores of flights and caused pollution in northern China to soar. Beijing’s air-quality index hit a dangerous level of 623 on Thursday; the United States government rates readings above 200 as “very unhealthy” and 301 to 500 as “hazardous.”
Experts tie the problem to the rapid urbanization of northern China, deforestation and climate change. The government has spent billions of dollars to plant forests to stop the creeping desertification, but some experts have questioned whether it has been effective enough in doing so.
The state news media in China said that children and the elderly should stay indoors during the storms. On both Thursday and Friday, the storms were at their worst in the morning, with cities like Beijing clearing later in the day.
Sand and dust storms take place when hot air over the desert destabilizes the lower atmosphere, whipping up strong winds that send huge amounts of sand hundreds or even thousands of miles. The storms have been linked not only to respiratory illnesses but also to lethal epidemics because of the spread of potentially harmful bacteria, viruses and fungal spores.
The dust storms typically hit northern China after the region is afflicted by high wintertime smog, which is caused by coal-burning power plants, factories and vehicle emissions.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Islamic Rules Kick 12 Year Old Female Player Out of Chess Tournament

Are you effing kidding me?  Nope - it really happened.  Other news outlets have reported on the event, which happened at the National Scholastic Chess Championship of 2017 held April 14, 2017 at Putrajaya.   Here's the scoop from The Washington Post:

‘We are disgusted’: Youth chess coach says student kicked out of tournament for ‘seductive’ dress

Marissa Payne, April 29, 2917



Quoted from the Facebook post (includes photo above):

DEAR MALAYSIAN CHESS COMMUNITY,
I heard the most disturbing incident from one of my student’s mother.
At the National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017, in Putrajaya, one of my student, who is a 12-YEAR-OLD GIRL felt harassed and humiliated by the actions of Tournament Director and Chief Arbiter.
In the middle of Round 2, (without stopping the clocks) Chief Arbiter informs my student that the dress she wore was improper and have violated the dress code of the tournament. It was later informed (by Chief Arbiter) to my student and her mother, that the Tournament Director deemed my student’s dress to be “seductive” and a “temptation from a certain angle far, far away”.
We found this statement completely out of line!
Please see attached photo of what she was wearing! Completely ridiculous!
After some discussion, Chief Arbiter had conceded and apologised to my student, personally assuring her that there was nothing wrong with her attire, but due to Tournament Director’s decision, he could not allow this dress to be worn by my student in the tournament. This discussion happened at around 10pm and Chief Arbiter gave them a choice to go to the mall nearby to buy a long slack for the next day 9.00am round. Due to the timing of this incident, it was impossible to get another attire in time for the 9.00am round next day, as all shops were already closed and wouldn’t be open in time.
Before the morning round next day, my student’s mother called Tournament Director regarding this matter, initially he had replied that he was not aware of the situation but after a brief discussion, it was realized that he knew all the details on this incident prior to this phone call. He promised to return the call upon discussion with Chief Arbiter, but this did not happen. He would further not answer or return any calls of my student’s mother.
This situation had led to the inevitable decision of withdrawal from the tournament all together.
We are absolutely DIGUSTED by the treatment of Tournament Director to a 12-year-old girl and her mother. This incident has resulted in loss of time and money which was invested before, during and after the tournament on coaching, registration fees, travelling, accommodation and other incurred cost.
This bright young girl was recently the champion of her district in MSS Kuala Lumpur and has shown tremendous potential in Chess. This incident has left her extremely disturbed, and embarrassed.
I have been playing chess in Malaysia for almost 2 decades and I have never heard this type of issue ever in any tournaments in Malaysia. This should be the first and last time this kind of issue ever appears, I or anyone of us should never accept this in our Chess Community.
We demand a public apology from Tournament Director of National Scholastic Chess Championship 2017. In the event, we do not receive a public apology in the next 5 days, we shall have no choice but to resort to legal proceedings.
Regards,
Kaushal Khandhar
A Malaysian Chess Player & Coach

Article:
A 12 year-old chess champion in Malaysia was forced to withdraw from a youth tournament in the country after tournament organizers deemed her knee-length dress too “seductive,” the girl’s coach said.
The tournament director of the National Scholastic Chess Championship held April 14-16 made the call personally, the coach noted, after finding the dress to be “temptation."

"We found this statement completely out of line!” youth chess coach Kaushal Khandhar wrote on Facebook.

He said the incident left his student feeling “extremely disturbed, and embarrassed."

Dress codes in chess are not unusual, as FIDE, world chess’s governing body, allows tournament organizers to set them before their events to ensure participants maintain a “dignified appearance.” In certain Muslim-majority countries, such as Iran, organizers may require female participants to follow local customs, including covering their hair with headscarves.

Malaysian women, however, do not face the same restrictions, and skirts or shorts that extend to the knee are commonly worn in public spaces.

"I have been playing chess in Malaysia for almost two decades and I have never heard this type of issue ever in any tournaments in Malaysia,” Khandhar added.

Making matters worse, the coach said, was the timing of the incident. The girl apparently was able to play in the dress without incident in the first round of the tournament but was pulled aside in the middle of the second round Thursday and told her attire didn’t conform with the dress code.

Khandhar said tournament organizers gave the girl the option to go purchase a pair of slacks and return to the event the next day, however, Khandhar said by the time that offer was made it was past 10 p.m., and all the shops had closed. They would not open again in time to meet the next day’s call time of 9 a.m., meaning the girl had no choice but to withdraw.

"We are absolutely DISGUSTED by the treatment of Tournament Director to a 12-year-old girl and her mother,” Khandhar continued. “This incident has resulted in loss of time and money which was invested before, during and after the tournament on coaching, registration fees, traveling, accommodation and other incurred costs."

Khandhar said the girl and her family are hoping for a public apology.

The unnamed tournament director has not commented on the allegations specifically, but told the Malay Mail Online on Friday that the would be lodging a police report.  [What?  A police report - for what?  And who, exactly, is allegedly going to be or has already filed this 'police report?'  The word typed in the article is "THE would be lodging a police report."  Is this supposed to be HE - or THEY? And if it is THEY, who is THEY, specifically?]

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Chess Federation told the paper an investigation of the incident is underway. A spokesman for the governing body said it had already reached out to the girl’s mother, whose statement on the incident did not exactly match the coach’s.

"The claim [Khandhar] posted is different from the official complaint [from the mother],” the MCF told the Malay Mail Online, noting it could not comment further due to legal concerns. “We will take action once the report comes out."  [How is Khandhar's claim different?  Why hasn't anyone asked?  What does this mean - we will take action once the report comes out?  What report - their OWN 'investigation?'  A police investigation?  And what do the police have to do with something like this in the first place?  NONE OF THIS MAKES ANY SENSE!]

WTF?  There's more - DISGUSTING...
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