October 6, 2017 in 4,038 words

Peace Sign

The internationally recognized symbol for peace (U+262E ☮ peace symbol in Unicode) was originally designed for the British nuclear disarmament movement by Gerald Holtom in 1958. Holtom, an artist and designer, made it for a march from Trafalgar Square, London to the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston in England, organized by the Direct Action Committee to take place in April and supported by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). Holtom’s design, the original of which is in the Peace Museum in Bradford, England, was adapted by Eric Austen (1922–1999) to ceramic lapel badges.

The symbol is a combination of the semaphore signals for the letters “N” and “D,” standing for “nuclear disarmament”. In semaphore the letter “N” is formed by a person holding two flags in an inverted “V,” and the letter “D” is formed by holding one flag pointed straight up and the other pointed straight down. Superimposing these two signs forms the shape of the centre of the peace symbol. Holtom later wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News, explaining the genesis of his idea in greater depth: “I was in despair. Deep despair. I drew myself: the representative of an individual in despair, with hands palm outstretched outwards and downwards in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad. I formalised the drawing into a line and put a circle round it.” Ken Kolsbun, a correspondent of Holtom’s, says that the designer came to regret the symbolism of despair, as he felt that peace was something to be celebrated and wanted the symbol to be inverted. Eric Austen is said to have “discovered that the ‘gesture of despair’ motif had long been associated with ‘the death of man’, and the circle with ‘the unborn child’,”. Some time later, Peggy Duff, general secretary of CND between 1958 and 1967, repeated this interpretation in an interview with a US newspaper, saying that the inside of the symbol was a “runic symbol for death of man” and the circle the “symbol for the unborn child”.

The Untold Story Of The Peace Sign

The peace symbol originated as a logo based on an “individual in despair . . . in the manner of Goya’s peasant before the firing squad.”

Students take part in the 1958 London to Aldermaston march.

The symbol that would become synonymous with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) was first brought to wide public attention on the Easter weekend of 1958 during a march from London to Aldermaston in Berkshire, the site of the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. The demonstration–the first large-scale anti-nuclear march of its kind–was organized by the Direct Action Committee Against Nuclear War (DAC), one of several smaller groups in the U.K. that would go on to form CND. Some 500 symbols were held aloft by protesters as they walked the 52 miles from Trafalgar Square, which suggests that the organizers were aware of the need for both political and visual impact. The fact that, in the form of Gerald Holtom, they already had a professional designer and graduate of the Royal College of Art on board perhaps explains why the symbol achieved immediate success, as well as the swiftness with which it was officially adopted by CND a few months after the march. Holtom was a conscientious objector (during World War II he had worked on a Norfolk farm), and also an established designer. He had created designs as diverse as fabrics based on west African patterns from the late 1930s and a range incorporating photographs of plankton for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

According to Professor Andrew Rigby, writing in Peace News in 2002, Holtom was responsible for designing the banners and placards that were to be carried on the Aldermaston march. “He was convinced that it should have a symbol associated with it that would leave in the public mind a visual image signifying nuclear disarmament,” writes Rigby, “and which would also convey the theme that it was the responsibility of each and every individual to work to remove the threat of nuclear war.”

In a sense, Holtom’s design did represent an individual in pursuit of the cause, albeit in an abstract way. The symbol showed the semaphore for the letters N (both flags held down and angled out from the body) and D (one flag pointing up, the other pointing down), standing for Nuclear Disarmament. But some years later in 1973, when Holtom wrote to Hugh Brock, editor of Peace News at the time of the formation of the DAC, the designer gave a different explanation of how he had created the symbol.

“At first he toyed with the idea of using the Christian cross as the dominant motif,” Rigby explains in his article, “but realized that ‘in Eastern eyes the Christian Cross was synonymous with crusading tyranny culminating in Belsen and Hiroshima and the manufacture and testing of the H-bomb.’ He rejected the image of the dove, as it had been appropriated by “the Stalin regime…to bless and legitimize their H-bomb manufacture.’”

The 2017 Nobel Peace Prize winner is the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Banning Nukes

Together, we can.

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, a coalition of 100-plus NGOs from around the world, just won the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize (Oct. 6), as the Norwegian Nobel Committee throws its weight behind the United Nations’ attempt to pass a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.

“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for some time,” said the chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Berit Reiss-Andersen, who called out countries trying to modernize their arsenals and North Korea’s attempts to become a fully-fledged power.

Reiss-Andersen called the announcement an “encouragement” to states that haven’t backed the new treaty effort. “The international community has previously adopted prohibitions against landmines, cluster munitions, and biological weapons. Nuclear weapons are even more destructive but haven’t yet been made the object of international legal prohibition.”

The academy’s decision piles pressure on US president Donald Trump, who has been publicly mulling leaving the Iran deal, which he called “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into” in his recent UN General Assembly speech.

Everything you need to know about the UN nuclear treaty ban backed by the Nobel Peace committee

Coalition Of The Unwilling

And vote no for realpolitik.

The Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) today, in what it said was an “encouragement” for countries to get behind the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons being pushed at the United Nations.

In July, 122 countries voted (paywall) for the treaty, which would ban any country from using nukes. Fifty-three countries have signed the treaty so far—a process that started during UN General Assembly week on Sept. 20. Once more than 50 have ratified it, the agreement becomes international law.

The treaty is “an important show of intent from the international community. It’s an important stigma on nuclear weapons that they be banned internationally like other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological weapons,” says Tom Collina, policy director at the Ploughshares Fund, which aims to eliminate nuclear weapons from the planet.

So, the US and others will now have to get rid of nukes?

No. There’s a sizeable catch: None of the countries that actually have nuclear weapons is among the 122 backers of the treaty—in fact, they’re all vehemently opposed. Right after the vote in July, the UK, the US, and France released a joint statement, saying, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it.” That’s why analysts like Collina are calling it only a “statement of intent.”

Henry Rollins: Hurricane Maria Was Our Planet Yelling, “Look What You Made Me Do!”

Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States is to some as Grace Slick once characterized famous music promoter Bill Graham: “one of us and one of them at the same time.”

In periods of crisis, such as what Puerto Rico is currently enduring, it is the American government that must step up and supply aid, the same as it would to Texas. I think comrade Trump gets that, but it seems he still seeks to keep some distance. One of his recent statements was strange for a president but right on track for Trump:

“The electrical grid and other infrastructure were already in very, very poor shape. They were at their life’s end prior to the hurricanes. And now virtually everything has been wiped out and we will have to really to start all over again. We’re literally starting from scratch. Ultimately, the government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us to determine how this massive rebuilding effort will end up being one of the biggest ever, will be funded and organized, and what we will do with the tremendous amount of existing debt already on the island. We will not rest, however, until the people of Puerto Rico are safe. These are great people.”

In one paragraph, Trump imparts that Puerto Rico has been a disaster in a description that could very well be applied to more than a few American cities. He then states that the “government of Puerto Rico will have to work with us,” as if it’s another country that “we” will hopefully be able to do business with. You would think that he would feel some empathy, as “the tremendous amount of existing debt” describes his son-in-law perfectly.

Trump then displays his true colors — or color, rather — when, after insulting and threatening millions of people who are currently at risk of death, he puts a bandage on the yuge humanitarian nightmare when he vows that “we” will not rest until everyone in PR is safe. He finishes with a slap on the ass, a perk that comes with ownership. “These are great people.” He knows this. He’s seen them clean and park cars like champs.

Bloody Heller

The Supreme Court created a gun rights crisis it’s unwilling to solve.

Clarence Thomas has strongly objected to the court’s refusal to take up the appeal in a hotly contested California case that would have clarified the contours of Heller.

After Sunday night’s horrific gun massacre in Las Vegas, here’s a question that is at once lingering and pointless: When is it permissible to discuss gun control in the wake of a disaster? Were we to follow Marc Thiessen’s advice and not dare discuss gun policy while bodies are warm on the ground, we would never discuss gun policy ever. There is, on average, at least one mass shooting a day in this country. The bodies on the ground will never cool. Congress, too, is effectively paralyzed by the power of the gun lobby and promises from Republican leadership that they will have a good hard look at whether there is some causal relationship between lethal gun massacres and guns as soon as the “dust settles.”

There is, of course, another branch of government that has the institutional capacity to consider the relationship between guns and personal liberty. This entity might do so free from the encumbrances of inflamed popular sentiment and the scourge of corrosive dark money, and could perhaps even use actual statistics—data the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been bullied into staying away from. This magical arm of our federal apparatus would be the Supreme Court, which unleashed upon the nation in 2008, in District of Columbia v. Heller, the previously undiscovered constitutional proposition that the right to bear arms is an individual one. Then, two years later, in McDonald v. City of Chicago, the court told us that the rule enunciated in Heller applied in all the states and not just in the District of Columbia.

In the intervening seven years, we’ve had no more elaboration on the nature of that right from the same court that scrupulously cautioned—as Justice Antonin Scalia put it in Heller —that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.” After decades in which the courts had concluded that there was no individual right to bear arms—Chief Justice Warren Burger, a zealous conservative, famously called the individual rights argument a “fraud”—the majority in Heller changed course, found a right, and then also waved their arms saying that of course this right could be subject to regulation, in terms of where weapons could be carried and the types of arms that could be regulated. As Scalia clarified in Heller: “We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms … that the sorts of weapons protected were those ‘in common use at the time.’ We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of ‘dangerous and unusual weapons.’ ”

DEGREE OF DIFFICULTY: “If someone tells you the courts have tied our hands on gun control, they are lying.”

5 Stupid Rumors That Spiraled Out Of Control Super Fast

Humanity is a rich mosaic of vastly different beliefs and cultures. What’s true in one place may not be true in another. But one thing we all have in common, no matter where you look: We as a species will hurry to believe any old crap someone spews out, as long as it’s an interesting story. Sometimes it does us no harm to throw caution to the wind and skip Snopes for the day. But other times …

#5. A Finger “Found” In Wendy’s Chili Costs Them $21 Million

At one point, you were almost certainly put off of Wendy’s when you heard reports that someone had found a human finger in their tragically good chili. Well, you’ll be happy to know it was the work of a con artist with a history of legal scams, and not a clumsy cook. It seems like a pretty ballsy move to claim you found a body part in your food with nothing to show for it. That’s why she planted a real human finger.

“Where the hell did she get a human finger?” you may ask.

From her husband, who had recently lost it in an industrial accident.

“Why on Earth would he give her his finger?”

They had a bet.

“Exactly what kind of bet?”

It’s not clear.

“So her first instinct was to plant it in a cup of Wendy’s chili?”

Apparently. Look, we don’t have all the answers.

Like why did the hospital give him the finger back in the first
place? Did they think there was some kind of “Finger Fairy”?

The police weren’t fooled for long by the bizarre scheme, but the damage was done. The fast food chain suffered an estimated $21 million in lost business, and several franchises were forced to lay off workers to compensate. To try to repair their image and bring back customers, Wendy’s spent two days giving away finger-free junior Frosties. Almost ten years later, so many people still believed the story that Snopes had to officially debunk it. Meanwhile, the Finger Master and her husband were sentenced to some lengthy prison time, and upon release, she was banned from Wendy’s for life.

You do not fuck with Dave Thomas.

The Soviets taught the Americans how to use science for propaganda

Sputnik Moment

We did it!

There are two versions of the Sputnik story. The one you likely know is that the US was caught by surprise when it found the Soviets had succeeded at launching an artificial satellite on Oct. 4, 1957. Within months, Americans made a series of investments, including the creation of NASA, to catch up and eventually beat the Soviets in the space race. The upshot: even though Soviets breached space first, a little more than 10 years later, it was Americans who were the first (and still only) humans on the moon.

The other story is more complicated. The US government’s reaction to Sputnik’s launch was subdued. Its spy planes had been monitoring Soviet developments, and it’s likely they knew a launch was imminent. “So far as the satellite itself is concerned, that does not raise my apprehensions—not one iota,” declared Dwight Eisenhower, US president at the time.

Even though Eisenhower had publicly declared that Americans were working towards launching small satellites two years earlier, in 1955, his administration was worried that going first would expose the country’s advanced military rockets to the Soviets. That’s why, two months after Sputnik, on Dec. 6, 1957, the first American attempt to launch a satellite used the non-military Vanguard rocket.

But you know about the first story, because it’s the narrative that won. Sputnik caused hysteria among Americans, who had relaxed into believing that they were technologically superior to the communists. If a Soviet satellite could fly over US skies, then surely Soviet nuclear missiles could unleash fury on US soil.

Neanderthal Genes Help Shape How Many Modern Humans Look

An employee of the Natural History Museum in London peeks at a model of a Neanderthal male in his 20s on display for a 2014 exhibition.

Neanderthals died out some 30,000 years ago, but their genes live on within many of us.

DNA from our shorter, stockier cousins may be influencing skin tone, ease of tanning, hair color and sleeping patterns of those of present-day Europeans, according to a study from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology published Thursday in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Scientists estimate that more than a few Homo sapiens ran into Neanderthals tens of thousands of years ago in Eurasia. They liked each other well enough to mate, and now Neanderthal DNA is thought to make up between 1 and 3 percent of the genetic code of most people who aren’t indigenous Africans.

African people have very little Neanderthal DNA because their ancestors didn’t make the trip through Eurasia, scientists think.

Computational biologist Michael Dannemann, the lead author on the latest paper looking at the Neanderthal DNA that persists in modern humans, says that he wondered, well, does it do anything?

The FBI’s Hunt for Two Missing Piglets Reveals the Federal Cover-Up of Barbaric Factory Farms

This article includes graphic images some readers may find disturbing.

FBI agents are devoting substantial resources to a multistate hunt for two baby piglets that the bureau believes are named Lucy and Ethel. The two piglets were removed over the summer from the Circle Four Farm in Utah by animal rights activists who had entered the Smithfield Foods-owned factory farm to film the brutal, torturous conditions in which the pigs are bred in order to be slaughtered.

While filming the conditions at the Smithfield facility, activists saw the two ailing baby piglets laying on the ground, visibly ill and near death, surrounded by the rotting corpses of dead piglets. “One was swollen and barely able to stand; the other had been trampled and was covered in blood,” said Wayne Hsiung of Direct Action Everywhere (DxE), which filmed the facility and performed the rescue. Due to various illnesses, he said, the piglets were unable to eat or digest food and were thus a fraction of the normal weight for piglets their age.

Rather than leave the two piglets at Circle Four Farm to wait for an imminent and painful death, the DxE activists decided to rescue them. They carried them out of the pens where they had been suffering and took them to an animal sanctuary to be treated and nursed back to health.

This single Smithfield Foods farm breeds and then slaughters more than 1 million pigs each year. One of the odd aspects of animal mistreatment in the U.S. is that species regarded as more intelligent and emotionally complex — dogs, dolphins, cats, primates — generally receive more public concern and more legal protection. Yet pigs – among the planet’s most intelligent, social, and emotionally complicated species, capable of great joy, play, love, connection, suffering and pain, at least on a par with dogs — receive almost no protections, and are subject to savage systematic abuse by U.S. factory farms.

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

A man without empathy, Trump was—as a boy—surrounded by an intense regional bigotry.

More than 19 million people from all over the world entered the U.S government’s Green Card lottery for a chance to move to America in 2017.

Nearly 84,000 of them won the right to apply for a visa. But there are only 50,000 spots available in total. And this month, the State Department announced that all those spots are now full.

Thousands of lottery winners did get good news. But some didn’t make the cut because of President Trump’s travel ban. And now, they’re watching their chance at a new life slip away.

THANKS to HBO and VICE News for making this program available on YouTube.

Pennsylvania Representative Tim Murphy, who voted on a bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks, resigns when it’s revealed he pressured his mistress to terminate her pregnancy.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available on YouTube.

While the Trump administration hasn’t been making a lot of international allies, three high-ranking members have reported pledged their allegiances to each other.

In what’s likely to be the least stimulating threesome of all time, it appears that Rex Tillerson, James Mattis and Steve Mnuchin have formed a triumvirate of stupidity to combat Trump.

Hey, if only part of a gun is incriminating, then Stephen’s empty teenage bong is completely innocent and he promises to never refill it again.

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

Seth takes a closer look at the aftermath of President Trump’s disastrous response to the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, and a simmering feud with his secretary of state.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers for making this program available on YouTube.

The poster for the new Tomb Raider movie looks totally hype. It may well be the redemption of all video game movies. What’s the secret? Alicia Vickander’s amazing taffy neck.

Thinking of visiting the one city in New Brunswick you’ve kind of heard of?

THANKS to Comedy Network and The Beaverton for making this program available on YouTube.


A curious cat uncovers a coven of creepy crawlies.

Simon’s Cat FINALLY gets into the attic and gives Simon a spooky surprise!

Make sure to stay tuned at the end for 2 more spooky Simon’s Cat Halloween specials..

Master Max would like his carrot juice cocktail shaken and not stirred for his evening drink.


Fighting drugs with drugs

Is Vivitrol really the best chance to end addiction?

Often misconstrued and exorbitantly priced, Vivitrol stands at the forefront of the pharmacological effort to fight drugs with drugs. Assessing its effectiveness means sifting through competing claims from the manufacturer, patients, clinicians and the generally accepted model of recovery itself.

Standing in a small restroom in a building across the parking lot from the Boulder County Jail, Robert, a robust man in his fifties, lowers his jeans a few inches in the back so that a nurse practitioner can access the meat of his right buttock. “Little pinch,” she advises, but she doesn’t really have to; Robert has been through this process several times already, usually with this same provider. And while he doubts the drug’s direct effects on his system, it’s getting him other things he values: a place to stay at the local homeless shelter, a weekly therapy group to attend and food.

Vivitrol, manufactured by Ireland-based Alkermes Pharmaceuticals, is a once-a-month injectable form of the opioid-receptor antagonist naltrexone that was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 for the treatment of alcohol abuse. It seems odd that not until four years later was this opioid-blocker approved to treat opioid addiction as well, but oddities are hardly unusual where the business of pushing pharmaceuticals meets the business and science of practicing medicine.

The cost of a shot of Vivitrol varies across the country and depends on who is administering it, but is in the ballpark of $1,000. With the Affordable Care Act’s provisions becoming reality in January 2014, and with Colorado embracing the attendant Medicaid expansion, a significant number of low-income and homeless Coloradans with long-standing substance-abuse problems acquired health insurance that would pay for the shot.

Ed. More tomorrow? Probably. Possibly. Maybe. Not?