Friday, April 15, 2011

The Back Page, Before They Cut It All To Fill The Back Page With The Royal Wedding

With it hailing out, and me working on something larger- might be tomorrow, might not, but still- today we'll do something of a back-page roundup. I'm going to fire four stories at you that I'm banking you haven't seen today, and we'll see if anything socks you in the eyeballs.

*Bolivia is on track to to pass a law, the Law of Mother Earth, giving nature the same rights as man. The Guardian shows them as "the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered," as well as the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities." They're also trying to get something similar through the United Nations, though that shows far poorer chances of success.

*The FDA has given approval to a hat, the NovoTTF-100A, that fights brain cancer by generating electric fields using the electrodes on your scalp to attack tumor cells. It comes with a gazillion caveats- the type of brain cancer, how much the cancer has progressed, what else has been tried- but it got a narrow approval after a clinical study showed it was as effective in the test group as chemotherapy, with less of some side effects (and more of others). That paves the way for further testing in other circumstances.

*Women in Tajikistan are increasingly taking note of a quirk in Tajik society that leaves them at major risk, according to Eurasianet. Divorce rates are on the rise, but the common way for Muslim spouses to get married is a religious ceremony called a nikkah. Couples that opt for a nikkah frequently do not obtain paperwork officially recognizing the marriage. No official marriage means no prenuptial agreement, and with women's rights lacking in that part of the world, the husband-that's-not-officially-a-husband can easily wind up with just about everything; according to the article, about 80% of female spouses wind up without property or child support, usually because they didn't register. Women can be hit from the other end as well, as even the ones that register and obtain a divorce (Tajik law enforces a 50-50 split) can end up shunned by their community because of the divorce.

*And finally, let's head over to Alicante, Spain, where authorities have recovered two priceless paintings stolen in the late 1990's: "La Anunciación" by El Greco and "La Aparición de la Virgen del Pilar" by Francisco de Goya. The paintings are reportedly undamaged; the thieves looked after them well. That's about all they could do; as they were both placed on the Art Loss Register and made known to the art community and to police, they couldn't easily be resold. When they reportedly started trying to do so in October, the cops got wind of it and began an investigation that led to the paintings' eventual recovery.

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