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Nun, 84, sentenced to 3 years in jail for nuclear break-in #WTFnews

Sister Megan Rice and two other defendants jailed for entering Oak Ridge plant and daubing it with Biblical messages
Megan Rice

Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed arriving for their trial in May 2013. Photograph: Michael Patrick/AP

An 84-year-old nun was handed a 35-month jail term on Tuesday for breaking into a US nuclear weapons plant and daubing it with biblical references and human blood. Sister Megan Rice was sentenced alongside two co-defendants, Greg Boertje-Obed, 58, and Michael Walli, 64, who both received 62-month terms.

At an earlier hearing in January, a judge ordered the three Catholic anti-nuclear protesters to pay $53,000 for what the government estimated was damage done to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, regarded as one of the most secure in the world.

All three defendants were convicted of sabotage after the 2012 break-in, on charges that carried a maximum sentence of up to 30 years. The government had asked for the trio to be given prison sentences of between five and nine years.

In a recent interview with the Guardian from prison, Rice said she hoped US district judge Amul Thapar would seize the opportunity to “take his place in history” and sentence them in a way that would reflect their symbolic, non-violent actions – actions she said were intended to highlight the US stockpile of nuclear weapons they believe is immoral and illegal.

Rice and her co-defendants have been in prison, mostly in Ocilla, Georgia, for nine months, a period of time her lawyers had argued was sufficient punishment for the break-in.

On 28 July 2012, the three activists cut through three fences before reaching a $548m storage bunker. They hung banners, strung up crime-scene tape and hammered off a small chunk of the fortress-like storage facility for uranium material, inside the most secure part of complex. They painted messages such as “The fruit of justice is peace” and splashed small bottles of human blood on the bunker wall.

Although the protesters set off alarms, they were able to spend more than two hours inside the restricted area before they were caught. When security finally arrived, guards found the three activists singing and offering to break bread with them. The protesters reportedly also offered to share a Bible, candles and white roses with the guards.

The Department of Energy’s inspector general wrote a scathing report on the security failures that allowed the activists to reach the bunker, and the security contractor was later fired. Some government officials praised the activists for exposing the facility’s weaknesses. But prosecutors declined to show leniency, instead pursuing serious felony charges.

The activists’ legal team had received hundreds of letters and a 14,000-signature petition pleading for leniency in the case, including from Rice’s religious order, the Society for the Holy Jesus, which asked for a reduced or suspended sentence given “her age, her health and her ministry”. Lawyers for Rice, Boertje-Obed, a Vietnam veteran from Washington DC, and Walli, a painter from Duluth, Minnesota, had also pleaded for leniency.

But the US government argued at the January hearing that they did not accept that they had committed crimes, took no responsibility for them, showed no contrition and then, during the trial, proceeded to argue against the laws they had broken. It has described the three, who have previous convictions related to their protest activities, as “recidivists and habitual offenders”.

Jeffery Theodore, the assistant US attorney general for the eastern district of Tennessee, told the court that the three “pretty much celebrated their acts”. At the earlier hearing, he described their argument that they were trying to uphold international law as “specious and disingenuous” and said there had been no single case where international law has been seen as justification for breaking US laws.

At the January hearing, four character witnesses for the defendants gave powerful testimony about their strong Christian and pacifist principles, their commitment to helping others, and their dedication to their cause. They, and the scores of supporters crowded into the courtroom, also provided an insight into the close-knit nature of the anti-nuclear faith community.

Mary Evelyn Tucker, director of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale, who has known Rice all her life, compared the nun’s use of non-violent protest to the “lineage of transformation” employed by Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. She said: “To allow Megan to continue the work of her life, the work to alleviate suffering, outside the walls of a prison would be an invaluable gift to the world. To keep her inside, the world would be diminished for lack of her work.”

Kathy Boylan, of the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community in Washington DC, where Walli is a member, described him as a “quintessential Christian”. Under questioning from Theodore, Boylan, a plowshare activist, admitted that, if Walli were to be re-integrated into her community, she would not discourage him from pursuing similar protest action in the future.

 

Read more here — http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/19/nun-jailed-break-in-nuclear-plant

 

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Atheism Has a Women Problem

From Hitchens to Dawkins, the most prominent faithless are white men. The movement needs to take a look at itself — and church history

Photo Credit: Roberto Bobrow (cc)

July 21, 2013 ,  By Katie Engelhart, alternet

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
–I Corinthians xiv. 34-5

New Atheism” is old news. Enter “New, New Atheism”: the next generation, with its more spiritual brand of non-belief, and its ambition to build an atheist church. It is an important moment for the faithless. Will it include women?

Several years ago, there was discussion of a “woman problem” within the Atheist movement. New high priests of non-faith announced themselves—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Peter Singer, A.C. Grayling, Daniel Dennett, etc.—and they were men. And they were angry. Their best-selling works were important and essential. These authors helped reinvigorate the secular cause; they cast off the fog of political correctness to unapologetically lay siege to piety. But before long, these New Atheists were depicted as an old boys’ club—a clique of (white) men, bound by a particularly unyielding brand of disbelief.

Where were the women?

Why, they were right there: stolidly leading people away from the fold. They wereirreverent bloggers and institution founders. And scholars. Around the time that the DawkinsHitchensHarris tripartite published its big wave of Atheist critique, historian Jennifer Michael Hecht published “Doubt” and journalist Susan Jacoby published “Freethinkers“—both critically acclaimed. And yet, these women, andmany others, failed to emerge as public figures, household names. “Nobody talked about [Doubt] as a ‘phenomenon,’” Hecht has noted. “They just talked about the book.” What gives?

*

The lady Atheist has a troubled history—its European chapter rooted in the French Revolution, which otherwise cleared ground for a bolder irreligion.

In the 1770s, the French philosopher Baron d’Holbach observed a dearth of “incredulous women or female atheists,” reasoning that women were biologically more “disposed to credulity.”

Where they were found, female atheists were considered especially noxious. In his 1738 poem “London,” the famed British writer Samuel Johnson cast women as urban leeches:

Her falling Houses thunder on your Head,
And here a female Atheist talks you dead.

English poet Edward Young took note, satirically using a ‘she-atheist’ to herald earthly apocalypse:

Atheists have been rare, since nature’s birth;
Till now, she-atheists ne’er appear’d on earth.

In some cases, men simply could not conceive of a female Atheist (just as, for centuries, they rejected the possibility of a female homosexual). In 1806, an issue of London’s La Belle Assemblée magazine revealed such suspicion, in an essay entitled “Character of the Atheist Woman”:

How is it possible, for example to conceive that a female can be an Atheist? What shall sustain this reed if religion does not support her frailty? For the sake of her beauty alone, women ought to be pious. (The author goes on to imagine, in great detail, thedeath of an Atheist wretch, whom nobody would mourn.)

In a private letter written in the 1760s, the English essayist Bonnell Thornton was overwhelmed by disgust brought on by the “female atheist:”

Good God! A Female Atheist! … One is not half so shocked at the idea of a Female Murderer; A Female Murderer, in the worse of senses, of her own children, of herself.

In 1813, the famed doctor Thomas Cogan (founder of the Royal Humane Society) observed:

Men contemplate a female atheist with more disgust and horror than if she possessed the hardest features embossed with carbuncles.

In his excellent book on Samuel Johnson, Northwestern University professorLawrence I. Lipking reasons that Johnson’s poem was a reaction to the rise of a controversial female preacher in the 1730s. She was also a shovel-ready stand-in for a degenerate modernity.

In the end, a female atheist was more than a walking blaspheme. She was a tear in the social fabric—and a menace to all.

By most statistical accounts, women are more devout. In countries like Britain and the United States, irreligion is spreading—but women are less likely to be Atheists. According to data from a recent World Values Survey, while 3.6 percent of American men identify absolutely as “Atheist,” just 1.2 percent of women do the same. Those numbers rise to 11.6 percent and 9.3 percent respectively in Britain.

But this demography is not sufficient to explain the relative dearth of prominent female Atheists. These missing women have been discussed at length: in publications like Freethinker and Ms.,at the Center for Inquiry’s 2012 and 2013 “Women in Secularism” conferences, and by countless local organizations.

Writers have suggested that the doggedness of New Atheism tends to turn off women—and that, for social reasons, women don’t muster the same militancy when defending their (non)beliefs. Others have looked to sexism within the Atheist community (read: Elevatorgate). A few have made unconvincingreferences to biology. And some academics blame the fact that churches have pulled a retroactive fast one on history: falsely claiming credit for progress on the women’s front.

Or perhaps it’s all a mirage? In a 2011 article in Bitch, journalist Victoria Bekiempis made the provocative claim that the “showboating [Atheist] boys’ club” is a media construct. She notes that around 2006, several news articles were published describing Dawkins et al. as a “band of intellectual brothers”: Atheism’s bullheaded bro-elite. That image—with its tidy narrative and ready stock characters—stuck. Bekiempis’s advice: “Let’s reframe. For every mention of Hitchens, counter with a mention of Hecht.”

Susan Jacoby, author of “Freethinkers,” has pointed to a kind of inter-movement antagonism. In an attempt to win over right-wingers, she argues, Atheists have been too timid in their assertion of women’s rights. Of course, history teaches that movements for change, even when they conceptually overlap, don’t always hold hands. Too great are concerns about alienating supporters and diluting the cause brand.

Will things be different in a church of “New, New Atheism”? Over the last few months, several secular churches have broken ground in Britain, North America and elsewhere. The Sunday Assembly (which I profiled for Salon in April) was launched in London by two comedians—to much fanfare. With new branches in Melbourne and New York, the Assembly has plans to open 40 American outposts this autumn. The guiding tenet of the Assembly is that Atheists have something to gain from the structures of a traditional church (or mosque, or synagogue): a sense of community, thoughtful lectures, periods of respite and occasions for moral contemplation.

Other secular churches have been opened by philosophers, former Pentecostalpreachers, and reformed Christians. Centers like Harvard University’s Humanist Community have also garnered international attention.

The Sunday Assembly was started by a male-female duo of stand-up comics. But the other secular founders are men, as are Harvard’s two Humanist chaplains. The sample is too small to be conclusive, but this early paucity of women is something to keep an eye on.

Let Atheism have its waves, and secularism its churches. But if Atheists are going to use “church,” as a word and an organizational model, they should pay heed to the long legacy of women’s oppression and torment that the Church represents. New Atheist churches should be active in their inclusivity, aggressively seeking out diversity in leadership and attending directly to issues of women’s rights. In addition: If you are a woman and an Atheist, and the idea of a secular church appeals to you, now would be a really good time to stand up and be counted.

Women have been preached at, by men, since the days of yore. Let us be wary not to give up the pulpit of non-belief too.

 

 

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Drinking to become a sin for Kerala Catholics #Wtfnews

There might also be a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

(Photo courtesy: indiavision.com)

Kochi: If the bishops’ council in Kerala has its way, alcohol consumption would become a sin for over 5 million Catholics in the state.
The temperance commission of the Kerala Catholic Bishops Council (KCBC), which has taken up the issue, also said that a person would also have to confess if he/she had consumed alcohol.

The commission is also seeking a ban on employing people who drink in institutions run by the church.

The proposals form part of a 30-point draft liquor policy to be put up for discussion before the Kerala Catholic Council (KCC), an apex body comprising bishops, priests and the laity of the church.

“The panel was forced to take the extreme stand in view of the crisis the Kerala society is going through due to excessive drinking,” Fr. P.J. Antony, secretary of the commission said.

He said the draft proposals were based on the teachings of Bible and were also in tune with scientific studies that held alcohol as a cause for various physical and mental illnesses.

“On the basis of the discussions, the liquor policy will be announced on February 2. The church believes this is its moral responsibility,” he added.

However, there are differences of opinion on making drinking a sin in the state.

Charlie Paul, president of KCBC Madhya Virudha Samithi, said making drinking a sin may need more theological backing.

“Some bishops have reservations on this and want it to be referred to theological experts,” he said.

Source: asianage.com

 

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ECHR -Judgment on teenage pregnancy due to #Rape and denial of #abortion #Vaw

European Court of Human Rights: Judgment in the case P. and S. v. Poland announced today

 

Oct 31, 2012

European Court of Human Rights announced its judgment today in the case P. and S. v. Poland. Federation for Women and Family Planning and its lawyers have been involved in the case from the very beginning.

It is a case of a teenage girl who was pregnant as a result of rape. Despite the fact that there was a relevant document issued by the prosecutor, she had been denied legal abortion in several hospitals. As a result she had to undergo the procedure in a hospital located 500 kilometers from her place of residence. Besides that, her right to confidentiality of medical information was breached, which resulted in severe harassment by pro-life and Catholic activists. The girl was also separated from her mother and placed in a juvenile shelter.

The Court determined violations of Article 8, (right to respect for private and family life) as regards the determination of access to lawful abortion in respect of both applicants (by six votes to one) and as regards the disclosure of the applicants’ personal data (unanimously);  Article 5 § 1 (right to liberty and security) in respect of P., and a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights in respect of P.

The court held that Poland was to pay P. 30,000 euros (EUR) and S. EUR 15,000 in respect of non-pecuniary damage and EUR 16,000 to both applicants in respect of costs and expenses.

Read the judgment in full here: http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/fra-press/pages/search.aspx?i=003-4140612-4882633

 

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Vatican orders crackdown on ‘radical’ nuns in the US

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious ( LCWR )

Source: BBC

The Vatican has ordered a crackdown on a group of American nuns that it considers too radical.

It says the group is undermining Roman Catholic teaching on homosexuality and is promoting “feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith“.

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious is the largest organisation of Catholic nuns in the US.

An archbishop has been appointed to oversee its reform to ensure that it conforms to Catholic prayer and ritual.

The Leadership Conference, which is based in Maryland, represents about 57,000 nuns and offers a wide range of services, from leadership training for women’s religious orders to advocacy on social justice issues.
Vatican concerns
“Working for a more just and peaceful world is an integral component of LCWR’s vision and goals.”

But its activities have clearly worried the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said the nuns’ organisation faced a “grave” doctrinal crisis.

It said issues of “crucial importance” to the church, such as abortion and euthanasia, had been ignored.

Vatican officials also castigated the group for making some public statements that “disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops”, who are the church’s “authentic teachers of faith and morals.”

The review will include an examination of ties between the Leadership Conference and Network, a Catholic social justice lobby.

Network played a key role in supporting the Obama administration’s health care overhaul despite the bishops’ objections that the bill would provide government funding for abortion.

The Leadership Conference disagreed with the bishops’ analysis of the law and also supported President Barack Obama’s plan.

A Vatican report into the group suggested that they

“Collectively take a position not in agreement with the church’s teaching on human sexuality.”

In its presentations investigators noted “a prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The investigation also found that the group has been

“Silent on the right to life from conception to natural death, a question that is part of the lively public debate about abortion and euthanasia in the United States“.

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Syrian Nun Plays Key Role in Medical Underground

By Adel Mansur

WeNews correspondent

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

An activist doctor in Syria has a hero he calls “Sister Nanique.” The Catholic nun stockpiles medical supplies to help treat those wounded in the resistance. Here he tells the story of her recent dangerous mission to Homs.

DAMASCUS, Syria (WOMENSENEWS) — Dr. Fadi has a hero.

He calls her “Sister Nanique” and her name, like his, is changed to protect their safety.

Fadi, an activist doctor, says Sister Nanique has a stash of clean syringes, tetanus injections, surgical tools, serums, bags for collecting blood donations and lots of other medical supplies that have become almost impossible to obtain since the eruption of the Syrian revolution.

She stores them in a small room next to her monastery cell, a place that some in the nation’s underground network of doctors call the “sister’s pharmacy.” These doctors consider that room a key supply source for their work in such devastated places as the city of Homs. A United Nations committee arrived Monday in Syria to monitor a U.N.-brokered ceasefire that some opposition activists said had broken down.

Sister Nanique is a Catholic nun who realized, early on, the vital importance of medication to people wounded since the outbreak of anti-regime protests last March.
She would be in big trouble if caught by her church; in even greater trouble if caught by security forces that have waged a violent campaign to crush dissent and punish anyone helping the opposition.

The government has shelled and raided protest hubs for months, sparking a humanitarian crisis and the flight of thousands of refugees across borders laced with land mines.

More than 12,000 lives have been lost in the bloodshed, according to the watchdog Syrian Network for Human Rights.

There are no hard and fast figures but an estimated 2,000 people have died due to inadequate medical care. Many have died on the perilous road to hospitals in bordering Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey.

The leaderships of Christian sects in Syria–from the Catholics, to the Orthodox, to the Syriac Orthodox–have all shied away from endorsing the popular uprising or have shown signs of sympathizing with the regime.

But many individual Christians in Syria, such as Sister Nanique, oppose their church’s stance and support the revolution.

Dying for a Bag of Blood

Fadi says that when the central city of Homs was being shelled by the army last month, civilians were dying for a bag of blood, and volunteer doctors were unable to remove the bullets from victims’ bodies because they did not have enough medical tools.

Supplies quickly ran out due to the blockade. Some activists managed to enter the city to help supply ad-hoc clinics in the basements of residential buildings. Many died under sniper fire, according to reports by the Syrian Network for Human Rights.

“Sister Nanique decided to go to Baba Amr when it was under fire, which meant practical suicide,” Fadi says, referring to one of the most devastated parts of Homs. “Getting to Homs was dangerous, let alone Baba Amr. It was the most violently bombarded region in Homs and was surrounded by the army.”

Fadi says he tried to discourage Sister Nanique from going to Baba Amr.

“I could not get her to change her mind, although she was fully aware of the hazard of her mission. There was only one thing she could think of: the fact that more and more people will die if she did not get there and give them the right medication.”

Dodging Suspicion

The nun’s religious attire, or habit, helped her dodge suspicion, Fadi says. “She filled her purse with hundreds of necessary injection needles and empty blood bags which allow people to donate blood to the wounded victims. She then called a fellow nun at a church in Homs, and she headed out to Baba Amr in a church car.”

Fadi says that for two days he lost touch with Sister Nanique because mobile and land lines to Homs had been severed by authorities.

“And then out of nowhere, the phone rang. It was Sister Nanique returning to Damascus after delivering her supplies to Baba Amr. When I saw her, I could read in her face all the suffering and devastation that she saw there. But she made no comment about what she had done, and she did not consider it a heroic act. She just kept on saying that God was the one to protect her.”

Fadi says that Sister Nanique and many other nuns also are providing food and material aid to families who were forced out of their homes or whose houses were destroyed by the shelling.

Many in the opposition believe that the church would like to give open medical assistance to the wounded, but would rather avoid any confrontation with the security authorities. But churches are providing help in the form of nutrition, clothing and shelter.

Sister Nanique feels that is not enough, Fadi says. Hundreds of lives are at stake for lack of medicine or blood transfusion, and hundreds risk losing their limbs for lack of tetanus injections or infection syringes.

That’s why Sister Nanique is doing what she does; because she believes medical assistance is more important than food right now for survival.

http://womensenews.org/story/war/120416/syrian-nun-plays-key-role-in-medical-underground

The writer is a Syrian who is adopting a pseudonym for personal-safety reasons.

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Listen Up, Guys: If The Catholic Bishops Win, It’s The End of Sex As You Know It

One of the most stunning things about this whole contraception farce is the number of men who are still sitting this out, on the assumption that this is just another “women’s issue.” They don’t think they’ve got a dog in this fight; it’s got absolutely nothing to do with them.

Griswold v. Connecticut is nearly 50 years behind us, which means that three generations of American men have come of age under the sweet delusion that the not-getting-pregnant piece of their sex lives is handled by the same invisible fairies who clean the bathrooms. Since almost all of the top-shelf contraception methods are acquired and managed by women, men have apparently gotten very accustomed to not ever having to think about pregnancy at all. It’s her issue, her body, her problem. And so the politics of contraception have nothing to do with them, either.

Listen up, guys. We need to talk. Because if you don’t think this is your problem, you are simply not paying attention.

Here’s how this goes down. If contraception goes away, your sex life as you have known it is OVER. (It’s impossible to overstate this.) Say goodbye to one-night-stands, third-date sleepovers, friends-with-benefits, debauched Spring Break memories, Hooters, lap dances, living together before marriage, sleeping in the same bed after marriage, and all those friendly girls whose memory still makes you smile years later.

And say hello to stern fathers, uptight women, heavily chaperoned dates, guilt, shame, shotgun weddings, big and early families, separate bedrooms (the only form of birth control the Catholic bishops wholeheartedly approve of), and a whole lot more NO in your life than you can possibly even begin to imagine right now.

Also, gentlemen, make no mistake about this: going solo won’t provide much solace, either. Because once these people have succeeded in taking away your happy, easy love life, they’re coming after your porn stash next. They want you wanking even less than they want you fucking. Hope you enjoy frequent cold showers, because it’s about the only thing you’re going to have left when they’re done with you.

Don’t believe me? Ask you dad, or your granddad, or any straight male over the age of 60 about how it was when they were young. They’re the last ones left who are old enough to remember The World Before Griswold. If you’re younger than that, you cannot possibly have the barest freaking idea how awful it was.

If ignorance is bliss, American men are out there floating around in the seventh level of heaven right now. You’ve been lucky enough to live your lives in the most sexually open era in human history — and contraception is the one and only thing that made all that possible. If it goes away, it’s straight back to the Dark Ages — not just for us ladies, but for you, too.

It’s been lovely here on top of the world. But you need to look down, right now, to fully understand just how far you’ve got to fall.

Source- Sara Robinson, Alternet

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Obama: Cover Birth Control; 8 Egyptian Women Win

The Obama administration said Jan. 20 that health insurance plans must cover contraceptives for women without charge, and it rejected a broad exemption sought by the Roman Catholic Church for insurance provided to employees of Catholic hospitals, colleges and charities, reported the New York Times. But the administration said it would give some employers affiliated with churches an extra year to comply, meaning that coverage would not begin for their employees until well after the 2012 elections.

Church leaders had personally appealed to Obama to grant the exemption, and he made the final decision on the issue after hearing all points of view, administration officials said

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