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peppertree's Journal
peppertree's Journal
October 31, 2017

500 years since 95 Theses, Martin Luther's legacy divides some of his descendants

Five centuries ago, Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation. The anniversary prompted a recent meeting of his descendants to discuss the legacy Luther left when he nailed his theses on a church door.

Many Protestants around the world are celebrating the start of the Reformation five centuries ago. As the story has it, on the eve of All Saints' Day, October 31, 1517, a renegade monk named Martin Luther hammered 95 theses that challenge Catholic doctrine onto a church door in Germany. And he launched a movement that forever changed Christianity.

But as NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson reports, not everyone is comfortable with the German theologian's legacy, including some of his descendants.

Luther led a backlash against increasing corruption in the Catholic Church, especially the sale of indulgences that were supposed to help the buyer get to heaven. He also helped unify the German language.

But there's a lot about Luther that makes the descendants uneasy, including his rants against Jews who failed to convert. Luther's words were used over the centuries to justify German anti-Semitism, including during the Nazi era.

"I would say Luther, in our time, would not survive," Christian Priesmeier, a descendant of his, said. "So he would be not a political person who would change anything."

He is optimistic, however, that Luther's church and the Catholic Church will finally reconcile.

At: http://www.npr.org/2017/10/21/559215320/500-years-since-95-theses-martin-luther-s-legacy-divides-some-of-his-descendants

Intolerant, uncompromising and stubborn, Luther nevertheless changed history 500 years ago today.
October 28, 2017

JFK Files: J. Edgar Hoover said public must believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone

Source: NBC News

"There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead."

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover dictated that line in a memo he issued on Nov. 24, 1963, the day Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald as the gunman was being transported to the Dallas County Jail after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Hoover appeared to be particularly concerned that the public would have to be compelled to believe that Oswald was a lone actor — not part of a larger conspiracy.

In the 1964 Warren Report on Kennedy's assassination, Hoover was firm in stating that he hadn't seen "any scintilla of evidence" suggesting a conspiracy — a sentiment he expressed in other public forums, as well, but not in words as blunt as those he used the day Oswald was killed. Hoover dictated: "The thing I am concerned about, and so is Mr. Katzenbach, is having something issued so we can convince the public that Oswald is the real assassin."

Hoover argued against appointing an independent commission to review the evidence, contending that the matter should be left to the Justice Department, the FBI's parent agency. Lyndon Johnson, the new president, announced the creation of the Warren Commission a few days later.

Read more: https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/jfk-assassination-files/jfk-files-j-edgar-hoover-said-public-must-believe-lee-n814881?cid=sm_npd_ms_fb_ai

"We'll speak again, Mr. Hoovah," Kennedy famously once told his renegade FBI director. They never did.
October 27, 2017

Argentina's Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo locate 125th missing grandchild

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the Buenos Aires-based human rights group founded by parents of dissidents who disappeared in Argentina in the 1970s and whose infants were abducted, announced the discovery of the 125th missing grandchild.

"We have the immense joy of announcing the restitution of the daughter of Lucía Rosalinda Victoria Tartaglia," the president of the Grandmothers, Estela Barnes de Carlotto, said.

Lucía Tartaglia, a law student at the University of La Plata, was kidnapped on November 27, 1977, at the age of 24. She developed a relationship with a fellow political prisoner, Horacio Cid de La Paz, and became pregnant a few months later.

Tartaglia gave birth in a military hospital in January 1979, and was murdered shortly afterward.

Her child's identity, who has not yet been revealed, was established through Argentina's National Genetic Data Bank for Relatives of Disappeared Children, created in 1987 on an initiative from the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

This discovery marks the 125th such grandchild to have their true identity restored since the Grandmothers were founded at the height of the Dirty War in 1977.

An estimated 500 children were either kidnapped or seized at birth from women in detention by the country's last dictatorship. The vast majority were given or sold to adoptive parents, most of whom were regime officials or wealthy supporters.

Former Deputy Police Commissioner Samuel Miara and fourteen other officers were convicted in 2011 for their roles in this and other disappearances. According to declassified dictatorship records, at least 22,000 dissidents were held in 300 detention camps and killed between 1975 and 1979.

At: https://translate.google.com/translate?sl=auto&tl=en&js=y&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&u=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pagina12.com.ar%2F71895-hoy-encontramos-otra-nieta&edit-text=

Lucía Tartaglia, 1953-1979.
October 27, 2017

FCC Enables Faster Media Consolidation as Pro-Trump Sinclair Group Seizes Even More Local Stations

Source: Democracy Now

A major decision by the Federal Communications Commission Tuesday eliminated a decades-old rule that ensures community residents can have a say in their local broadcast TV station.

The regulation is known as the “main studio rule,” and it requires broadcasters to have a physical studio near where they have a license to transmit.

This comes as the FCC also announced plans, at a hearing Wednesday with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, to abolish long-standing media-ownership rules, including limits on how many stations or newspapers one company can own in a single market.

Opponents say these changes will accelerate media consolidation, allowing massive corporate media companies, such as the right-wing Sinclair Broadcast Group, to buy up and control even more local stations. Earlier this year, Trump’s FCC appointees revived a regulatory loophole that could allow Sinclair to buy 42 TV stations from Tribune Media Company, on top of the more than 170 stations it already owns.

The deal means Sinclair stations would reach about 72 % of U.S. households.

Read more: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/10/26/fcc_eliminates_rules_preventing_media_consolidation

October 24, 2017

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October 23, 2017

Found: Handwritten notes with Einstein's thoughts on a good life

Source: atlasobscura.com

In 1922, Albert Einstein sat in a hotel room in Tokyo and wrote down two thoughts: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way” and “a quiet and modest life brings more joy than a pursuit of success bound with constant unrest.”

He gave those two notes in lieu of a tip to a courier who had brought him a message, as the Japan Times reports.

It may have been that he didn’t have any change; it may have been that the courier had refused money. But Einstein had the idea that these small slips of paper might be worth much more than a handful of change one day.

When he had arrived in Tokyo, the scientist had been met by crowds of fans. He had been traveling around the world, giving a series of lectures, in America, in British Palestine, and in southeast Asia. He was in Asia when he received a telegram informing him he had won a Nobel Prize.

Read more: https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/albert-einsteins-japan-notes-meaning-of-life

Einstein and friends enjoy sake in Tokyo in 1922.
October 22, 2017

President Macri's coalition 'ahead' in crucial Argentina mid-term election

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri's coalition looks to be on course to make significant gains in the country's congressional elections.

Partial results show his centre-right 'Let's Change' alliance leading in the capital Buenos Aires, and in 12 out of 23 provinces.

Over 33 million Argentines were eligible to vote, which saw a third of seats in the Senate contested, along with half of those in the lower house of Congress. More than 78% of registered voters took part.

Macri was elected by a narrow margin two years ago and won't have an outright majority. His coalition will gain at least 19 seats in the lower house, bringing its total to 105 out of 257, and reach 24 seats out of 72 in the Senate.

This election is being seen as a test of his ability to win re-election in 2019.

The most closely-watched race was in Buenos Aires Province, where the centre-left former President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, received 37% in her Senate bid. Although trailing Macri's former Education Minister Esteban Bullrich, who received 41%, second place was enough for the 64-year-old to win one of the province's three Senate seats, under Argentina's list system.

The nationwide Senate electoral map favored Macri's Let's Change, as just 3 of its 17 senators were at stake; the pro-Kirchner Front for Victory (FpV) and allies were contesting 20 of its 43 senators.

Doctored precinct summaries

Nationwide primaries held on August 14 were marred by irregularities, with evidence surfacing of doctored precinct summary pdf files showing zeroed-out counts for Kirchner's Citizen's Unity in a number of cases.

Former House Speaker Leopoldo Moreau, an ally of Mrs. Kirchner, explained that Citizen's Unity had opened its own tabulation center to corroborate official figures; but described today's polls as "proceeding normally thus far."

Santiago Maldonado

Today's elections were also overshadowed by the August 1 disappearance of 28 year-old artist and activist Santiago Maldonado, who was last seen during a Gendarmerie raid on an indigenous Mapuche protest camp in Patagonia.

Maldonado's body was found on October 17 nearly a mile upstream, prompting Mapuche spokesmen and his own family to assert that his body may have been planted there by government forces in an attempt to diffuse the controversy ahead of today's polls.

At: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41717100

October 22, 2017

Mariano Rajoy has staged a 'coup d'etat' against democracy in Catalonia

​The Spanish government has suspended Catalonia’s self-rule, 78 years after Franco’s fascists did the same. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has decided he doesn’t like the democratically elected government of Catalonia and has announced he will replace its members with his own ministers.

He has also decided to prevent the Catalan parliament from choosing a new president, to validate all the legislative initiatives it may table in the future and to call for a snap Catalan election in the coming months. According to several high-ranking People’s Party officials, pro-independence parties could be banned in the run-up to the vote, or just after it.

Rajoy has also announced that his cabinet will have full control of the Catalan government’s finances (it already has it) and seize control of the Catalan public broadcasting service (TV, radio and news agency). This is how he plans to change the political will of Catalan citizens: by abusing the most basic democratic principles, the rule of law and the due respect for his fellow citizens.

Rajoy, the politician who irresponsibly started a Spain-wide campaign against the new agreement on Catalonia’s home rule 10 years ago, has now taken a step that no other Spanish politician dared to take in a democracy, not even during the worst times of the Basque violent conflict.

By suspending Catalonia’s home rule, the Spanish government, with the incredible support of the Socialist Party, has destroyed one of the basic consensuses that led to democracy in the late 1970s: the recovery of Catalonia’s self-rule. By doing so, Rajoy has staged a coup d’état against Catalonia’s institutions and against democracy in the whole of Spain.

It is more than evident that this is an escalation, without precedent, of tensions and will provoke hundreds of thousands of Catalan citizens to take to the streets to defend Catalonia’s home rule and institutions, as already happened yesterday.

At: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/catalonia-catalan-spain-independence-referendum-coup-against-democracy-a8013661.html

Rajoy has gone as far as to threaten Catalonia's leadership with "the safe fate that befell Lluís Companys" - the 1930s pro-independence leader seized by the Nazis and executed by their close ally Franco.

October 22, 2017

John McCain finds a new voice and uses it against Trump

US Senator John McCain, the sometimes cantankerous, often charming, and eternally irrepressible Republican from Arizona, has never minced words.

But in the twilight of a long and storied career, as he fights a virulent form of brain cancer, the 81-year-old senator has found a new voice.

In twin speeches — one in July, where he issued a call to bipartisanship in the Senate, and another in Philadelphia this past week, where he railed against “half-baked, spurious nationalism” — McCain has taken on both his colleagues and President Trump.

In the process, his friends and fellow senators say, he has carved out a new role for himself on Capitol Hill: elder statesman and truth-teller.

“Even if John were not ill, with his experience and age, there is a part of you that I think begins to focus on your legacy,” said former Vice President Joe Biden, a close friend of McCain’s. But with cancer, Biden said, “he’s in the fight of his life, and he knows it.”

At: https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2017/10/21/twilight-career-mccain-becomes-unfettered-voice-against-trumpism/QQe46l3AGX2CJBh8WpKrdP/story.html

October 21, 2017

Noted Argentine actor Federico Luppi dies at 83.

Federico Luppi, a dignified Argentine actor well known for his complex performances died on Friday in Buenos Aires. He was 83.

The cause was complications of a subdural hematoma that developed after a fall at his home in April, said his wife, the actress Susana Hornos.

Luppi’s career, which began in the mid-1960s, included dozens of film and television roles, often in Argentine productions. Slim and stately with a shock of white hair, he endowed his characters with a sense of gravity.

Born in Ramallo, northwest of Buenos Aires, in 1934 to poor Italian immigrants, he studied architecture and worked in a slaughterhouse and a bank before he was able to support himself as an actor.

He was blacklisted from Argentine productions for some years after he was openly critical of the 1976-81 dictatorship of Gen. Jorge Videla.

He was also beset by a rocky personal life, including an acrimonious divorce to co-star Haydée Padilla in 1987, and a child support dispute over an illegitimate son born in Uruguay in 1999. Argentina's collapse in 2001 forced Luppi to emigrate to Spain; he returned in 2008.

Despite those difficulties, he remained a prolific actor, active in theater, television and film.

Luppi is best remembered in Argentina for two thrillers by the Argentine director Adolfo Aristarain: as a demolitions expert who stages an accident in order to expose an unscrupulous mining firm in “Time for Revenge” (1981); and as a contract killer who has tables turned on him in “Last Days of the Victim” (1982).

He also won acclaim for his role as a naive small-businessman in the tragedy “Sweet Money” (1982); as a political idealist who organized rural shepherds in “A Place in the World” (1992); and as a dying literature professor who tries to start a new life in “Common Ground” (2002).

Luppi later starred in three films by famed Mexican director Guillermo del Toro: as an antiques dealer turned into a vampire in “Cronos” (1993); as a leftist sympathizer who ran a haunted orphanage in Franco’s Spain in “The Devil’s Backbone” (2001); and the monarch of a fairy kingdom in “Pan’s Labyrinth” (2006), which won three Academy Awards in 2007.

Writing in Spanish on Twitter, del Toro called him “our Olivier, our Day Lewis, our genius, my dear friend.”

At: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/obituaries/federico-luppi-83-actor-known-for-del-toro-films-dies.html

“When you've learned everything, then you die.” Federico Luppi, 1934-2017.

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