Indian court convicts 31 over Muslims murdered — in 2002

Daylife/AP Photo used by permission

An Indian court found 31 people guilty on Wednesday of killing 33 Muslims during riots in Gujarat state in 2002.

The trial in a court in Gujarat, followed an investigation, ordered by the Supreme Court, into the events that took place on March 1, 2002. On that evening, a mob of Hindu rioters surrounded houses belonging to Muslims in Sardarpura village in the district of Mehsana and set them on fire, burning dozens of people alive, including men, women and children.

Killings, arson and looting continued throughout the night, with attackers burning shops and houses owned by Muslims. Most of the Muslim families left the village after the episode.

The rioting followed the burning of a train carrying Hindu pilgrims in a Muslim-dominated area in which 59 passengers were killed. The train attack incited widespread riots across Gujarat for several weeks. More than 1,000 people, primarily Muslims, were killed in the riots.

The violence attracted widespread condemnation about the ineffectiveness of Gujarat’s state government. The lack of immediate prosecutions after the riots prompted the National Human Rights Commission to file a case in the Supreme Court for special investigation…

The court also acquitted 42 in the rioting. Concerning the large number of acquittals, Teesta Setalvad, an activist who represents riot victims said she and others representing the victims will speak to the victims’ families to discuss a possible appeal.

The 31 people convicted were sentenced to life in prison and fined $1,000 each.

Sounds like the Old Days in God’s Country – when Black Americans were lynched for the crime of being Black. And state and federal politicians in charge of India reacted to protect the lives of ordinary Indians who happen to be Muslim just about as slow as molasses-foot Congress ever did.

Grassroots voters turn their backs on Republican ideology

Voters turned a skeptical eye toward conservative-backed measures across the country Tuesday, rejecting an anti-labor law in Ohio, an anti-abortion measure in Mississippi and a tightening of voting rights in Maine.

Even in Arizona, voters turned out of office the chief architect of that state’s controversial anti-immigration law. State Senator Russell Pearce, a Republican power broker and a former sheriff’s deputy known for his uncompromising style, conceded the race Tuesday with a look of shock on his face.

…Taken together, Tuesday’s results could breathe new life into President Obama’s hopes for his re-election a year from now. But the day was not a wholesale victory for Democrats. Even as voters in Ohio delivered a blow to Gov. John R. Kasich, a Republican, and rejected his attempt to weaken collective bargaining for public employees, they approved a symbolic measure to exempt Ohio residents from the individual mandate required in Mr. Obama’s health care law.

And while voters in Mississippi, one of the most conservative states, turned away a measure that would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of contraception, they tightened their voting laws to require some form of government-approved identification. Democrats had opposed the requirement, saying it was a thinly disguised attempt to intimidate voters of color.

Which is why I consider yesterday’s polling a victory for grassroots, working class, middle-class Americans. These victories didn’t come from Democrat leadership – they came from groups ranging from local unions to Planned Parenthood to the American Civil Liberties Union.

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Pee-Power tests at UWE proves potential fuel cell option

Research into producing electricity from urine has been carried out by scientists at the University of the West of England (UWE) in Bristol.

It is claimed the publication of a research paper into the viability of urine as a fuel for Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) is a world first. They say tests have produced small amounts of energy, but more research could produce “useful” levels of power.

Dr Ioannis Ieropoulos said he was “excited by the potential of the work”.

MFCs contain the same kind of bacteria that is found in soil, the human gut or waste water from sewers.

The bacteria anaerobically (without oxygen) respire just like any other living organism, and this process gives off electrons. Those electrons are then passed through an electrode and a measure of electricity is generated…

“Through this study… we were able to show that by miniaturisation and multiplication of the number of MFCs into a stack and regulating the flow of urine, it may be possible to look at scales of use that have the potential to produce useful levels of power, for example in a domestic or small village setting.”

Terrific. First, it’s always useful to add another potential waste source to the mix of electrical generation. Second, I’d love to see what might be developed either as a domestic source of electricity or a small village setting.

We live in a core community of about 110 homes. An ideal size for small-scale energy production.

Germanys Greens: broad enough to be a principled success

Thekla Walker elected new co-leader of the Greens in Baden-Wuerttemberg
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

The Greens have grown out of their woolly jumpers and sandals and turned enough fellow Germans on to environmentalism to make the party — already the world’s most successful green movement — the possible kingmakers in the 2013 elections.

Founded three decades ago by rebels from the 1968 student movement, ‘ban-the-bomb’ peaceniks, ecologists and feminists, the Greens got their first taste of power from 1998 to 2005 under Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats (SPD).

But they have come into their own in the past year. A strong run of local elections gave them a presence in all 16 regional assemblies for the first time as well as their first state premier, Winfried Kretschmann, who ousted Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) in conservative Baden-Wuerttemberg…

We have shown that economics and ecology don’t contradict each other — which is a quantitative leap forward,” said party co-leader Claudia Roth in an interview…

The party has climbed to historic highs in opinion polls in the past year of 15-20 percent, from 10.7 percent in the last elections in 2009.

It has now surpassed the current junior coalition partners, the Free Democrats (FDP), to become the third force in a system that has been dominated by the conservatives, now at around 32 percent, and the SPD, who poll as much as 30 percent…

As conservative German voters’ old animosity to the environmentalists fades, “well-educated, higher-income people — the upper-middle class — are moving toward the Greens and forgetting the old ideological barriers between them,” said politics professor Gero Neugebauer at Berlin’s Free University.

Now renewable energy is creating more jobs than traditional industry in parts of former East Germany, the financial crisis has turned once radical Green ideas like financial transactions taxes mainstream, and the Greens side with the once-demonized International Monetary Fund in some areas of financial policy.

RTFA. Lots of detail, anecdotal information.

The German Greens could give lessons to the middle-class radicals in the United States who occasionally play Lets Pretend to be a Political Party.

Cave paintings depicted Stone Age horses in their true colors

About 25,000 years ago, humans began painting a curious creature on the walls of European caves. Among the rhinos, wild cattle, and other animals, they sketched a white horse with black spots. Although such horses are popular breeds today, scientists didn’t think they existed before humans domesticated the species about 5,000 years ago. Now, a new study of prehistoric horse DNA concludes that spotted horses did indeed roam ancient Europe, suggesting that early artists may have been reproducing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures…

A small number of caves, including 25,000-year-old Pech Merle in southern France, feature horses painted white with black spots. Some archaeologists have argued that this leopard-like pattern was fanciful and symbol laden rather than realistic. Indeed, in a 2009 analysis of DNA from the bones of nearly 90 ancient horses dated from about 12,000 to 1,000 years ago, researchers found genetic evidence for bay and black coat colors but no sign of the spotted variety, suggesting that the spotted horse could have been the figment of some artist’s imagination. Although researchers can only speculate on what prehistoric artists were trying to express, hypotheses range from shamanistic and ritualistic activities to attempts to capture the spirit of horses and other animals that ancient humans hunted.

But in a new paper…in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same team reports finding that spotted horses did indeed exist around the time that cave artists were doing their best work. The researchers, led by geneticists Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and Michael Hofreiter of the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed DNA from an older sample of 31 prehistoric horses from Siberia as well as Eastern and Western Europe, ranging from about 20,000 to 2,200 years ago. They found that 18 of the horses were bay, seven were black, but six had a genetic variant — called LP — that corresponds to leopard-like spotting in modern horses. Moreover, out of 10 Western European horses estimated to be about 14,000 years old, four had the LP genetic marker, suggesting that spotted horses were not uncommon during the heyday of cave painting.

If so, the team argues, prehistoric artists may have been drawing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures. Prehistoric horses came in at least “three coat color[s],” Ludwig says, “and exactly these three [colors] are also seen in cave paintings. Cave art is more realistic than often suggested…”

Not that any of the research will distract any scientist who thinks he’s also expert in the thought processes of artists.