An important victory for voting rights in Virginia — Republican gerrymandering turned back

The U.S. Supreme Court threw out a challenge to a judge-drawn voting map that might help Democrats pick up a seat from Virginia in the U.S. House.

The unanimous ruling Monday said the state’s Republican congressional delegation couldn’t press an appeal seeking to reinstate an earlier map drawn by the state legislature. That map helped Republicans capture eight of Virginia’s 11 U.S. congressional districts in the 2012 and 2014 elections.

In ordering the new map, a lower court said race played too much of a role when the legislature drew the boundaries for the 3rd District, held by Democratic Representative Bobby Scott. Mapmakers consolidated black, mostly Democratic voters into Scott’s district so that it stretched from north of Richmond southeast to Norfolk, about 100 miles away. That improved Republican prospects in neighboring districts.

Virginia’s Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring didn’t appeal that ruling, but the state’s Republican representatives took the matter to the Supreme Court.

NSS.

The case is part of the fallout from a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling undercut the requirement that all or parts of 15 states get federal approval before changing their voting rules.

Those fifteen states have a record of bigotry, a history of preventing minority voters from having a voice. In states like Virginia, Republicans have added an additional chunk of cowardice, fear of democracy, trying to keep young people – especially college students – from voting.

Attacking doctors in conflict zones is a War Crime. Why is no one prosecuted for it?

While a United States AC-130 gunship blasted a Médecins Sans Frontières
 hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, with howitzer and incendiary rounds early on the morning of October 3, 2015, MSF staff phoned and texted American and Afghan authorities more than a dozen times trying desperately to stop the attack. Medical staff and patients were shot as they fled the building. Others burned to death as they lay in their beds. By the time the half-hour airstrike was over, 42 people — including doctors, nurses, and patients — were dead.

The Pentagon later carried out an investigation and determined that while errors were made, no one will face criminal charges.

Though it was horrific, the Kunduz hospital attack was not unusual. It was one of hundreds of assaults on health care workers and hospitals in conflict zones around the globe since 2015, as cataloged in a detailed new report from Johns Hopkins University. The consequences of these attacks have been devastating…

Attacks on health care workers and medical infrastructure were recorded in 19 countries in just over a year of warfare. The attacks were as varied as they were widespread…

There have been virtually no consequences for the perpetrators of these attacks. Regardless of who is committing these atrocities, says Leonard Rubenstein, who coordinated and edited the report…For more than 150 years, international law has deemed these attacks on medical personnel and infrastructure illegal. The Geneva Conventions provide strict rules for warring parties: Attacks must differentiate between military targets and civilian objects, hospitals can’t be taken over for military purposes, and health professionals cannot be punished for providing health care. “A deliberate attack on a health facility is a war crime—it’s true under the Geneva Conventions and the International Criminal Court,” says Rubenstein. When it comes to crimes against health professionals, he says, “There haven’t been prosecutions, and there should be.”

I’ll second that emotion. It’s not a new accusation against any of the human rights “champions” in the West. France, England, any former colonial power – the United States took over the role of Imperial Copper after the Brits trudged back from Empire. All have been guilty. Perhaps not as often as any of the newsprint evildoers; but, the hometown press ain’t too picky about telling the truth about how we defend the American way of life in someone else’s country halfway around the world, eh?

Unsustainable practices are destroying whole ecosystems – finfish species disappearing


Mangrove red snapperDaniela Dirscher/WaterFrame

Fifty-nine finfish species have ‘disappeared’ from fishermen’s catches in the world’s most species rich and vulnerable marine region…

In the largest study of its kind, experts from Newcastle University, UK, have highlighted the impact that uncontrolled fishing in particular is having on coral reefs.

Drawing on the knowledge of local fishermen in the Philippines, the team were able to build a picture of how finfish populations have declined over the last 65 years.

Recording 59 species that were once common and have now disappeared from catches, the team highlighted five finfish that are now fighting for survival — the green bumphead parrotfish, the humphead wrasse, the African pompano, the giant grouper and the mangrove red snapper. Publishing their findings this week in the science journal PLOS ONE, the report coincides with Endangered Species Day and highlights the “urgent need for action”.

Lead scientist Nick Polunin, Professor or Environmental Science at Newcastle University, explains: “Most of us still think that nature is unlimited in the oceans.”…”But our coral reefs are good sentinels of global ocean change, and like the canary in the coal mine, they’re telling us there’s not much time left for action.

“These losses we’ve recorded in the Philippines are reflective of unsustainable exploitation affecting this exceptionally species rich ecosystem and region but they mirror what is happening in ecosystems around the globe.

The researchers hope this evidence will provoke action by politicians in charge of legislatures around the world. Regulation and management practices need to be instituted to protect a global food sources from death by overuse and abuse.

More than evidence is needed to move most elected officials.

Politics in apartheid Israel have former Prime Minister warning of the “seeds of fascism”


Ehud BarakMarc Israel Sellem

A military affairs commentator interrupts his broadcast to deliver a monologue: I’m alarmed by what’s happening in Israel, he says, I think my children should leave.

Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak warns of “the seeds of fascism“. Moshe Arens, who served as defense minister three times, sees it as a turning point in Israeli politics and expects it to cause a “political earthquake”.

The past five days have produced tumult in Israeli politics, since conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unexpectedly turned his back on a deal to bring the center-left into his coalition and instead joined hands with far-right nationalist Avigdor Lieberman, one of his most virulent critics.

Lieberman, a West Bank settler, wants to be defense minister. So on Friday, Netanyahu’s former ally and confidant, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon, resigned and quit Netanyahu’s Likud party in disgust…

Arens, who has served as defense minister, foreign minister and ambassador to the United States…said…”Yaalon’s ouster is likely to be a turning point in Israel’s political history,” he wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper. “A political earthquake is in the offing. It may take a little time, but it is coming. The law of unforeseen consequences is at work.”…

At a time when the command of the Israel Defense Forces is already at odds with the government over policies it feels are too hard-line, Lieberman’s appointment risks creating more tension between the political leadership and the military. Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank are on edge too.

“What has happened is a hostile takeover of the Israeli government by dangerous elements,” Ehud Barak, Israel’s most decorated soldier and a former defense minister following his spell as head of government…

Israel has been “infected by the seeds of fascism”, he said, adding that it should be “a red light for all of us regarding what’s going on in the government.”

Israel has become a mirror image of apartheid South Africa. A style of government by bigots which the United States once had the integrity to reject. Now, between conservative Democrats, rightwing Republicans, business-as-usual flunkies in both parties, there will be no reduction of military equipment or dollar$ for the Israeli government.

American electoral politics is as stuck into 1950’s political alliances as the White House is in fashioning a new Cold War in Asia. No matter that pro-Israel forces deliver no more real votes nationwide than leftover members of the Havana Yacht Club deliver in Florida. The imprint of how business is done in Congress and the White House requires matching policies in the Middle East.

Israel may officially move that fraction from Apartheid to Fascism. The Democrat and Republican Establishment will blather – and take away a few token privileges – and do nothing else.