Monday, February 27, 2017

Celebrating Black History Month: Marsha P. Johnson, gay black transgender activist

Marsha P. Johnson, born Malcolm Michaels in 1945, was one of the most visible people in New York City's gay scene from the 1960's to the 1990's.  Although Johnson never had the surgical transition, she was a popular drag queen and is identified as one of the first to fight back during the Stonewall riots in 1969.

She remained active in gay rights movements and AIDS awareness until her suspicious death in 1992.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Remembering Bill Paxton (1955-2017)

Handsome action actor Bill Paxton passed away yesterday from complications from surgery, a family representative reported.  I got to know Mr. Paxton from his work in Weird Science and one of my favorites, Aliens.  Born in Fort Worth, Texas May 17, 1955, he moved to Hollywood at 18, and appeared in other blockbusters such as Predator, Titanic and Apollo 13.  He will be sorely missed.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Mariner 6, spacecraft to Mars, launched 1969

Mariner 6, one of two probes to explore Mars, launched February 25, 1969.  Mariner 7 launched the following month.  Mariner 6 made its closest approach to Mars on July 31, 1969, less than a week after Apollo 11's mission.  As a consequence, Mariner 6's achievements did not receive the attention it should have.

Celebrating Black History Month: Delta Alpha, first black chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi

On May 19, 1957, the Delta Alpha chapter of the National Honorary Band Fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi was installed at Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma.  It was the first black chapter of the fraternity to be installed.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Celebrating Black History Month: Michael Curry, first African-American bishop of Episcopal Church

In 2015, Michael Bruce Curry was elected Bishop of the entire Episcopal Church in the U.S.  He is the first  black man to hold this position.  Previously, he had been the Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina.  In October 2016, he traveled to Rome to meet the Holy Papa, Pope Francis.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

USDA purges all of its animal welfare records

After his inauguration, The Donald appointed Brian Klippenstein to his USDA transition team, a known opponent of animal rights groups.  Earlier this month, the USDA purged its database of all records pertaining to inspection reports on puppy mills, private research facilities, and zoos that constitute the public record of commercial animal abuse. The USDA hasn't  said why it purged its records but the timing is too close to be coincidental.

Klippenstein, like Pruitt and the EPA, has a history of opposing legislation to improve animal welfare.  For example, his organization Protect the Harvest campaigned against a Massachusetts bill that banned the sale of eggs and meat from animals kept in cramped cages, like those that keep chickens from spreading their wings. Smarter, saner  heads prevailed and despite Klippenstein's efforts, the bill passed by 77%.

Now, in response to public anger, the USDA has backtracked and reposted a miniscule amount of information, but nothing close to what was originally there.

Natasha Daly of National Geographic reports why these records are so important:

Records that make it possible for journalists to report on animal abuse—such as those underpinning Mother Jones’s reports on 20 years of alleged abuse toward animals at a roadside zoo and the abuse of elephants at Ringling Brothers circus—are still offline. Records that provided deep, background evidence for a New York Times investigation into abuses against farm animals at a USDA-run research facility are too. So are the inspection reports that enabled The Augusta Chronicle, the Harvard Crimson, the Boston Globe, and the Daily Beast to report on patterns of abuse at several private research facilities against dogs and primates.

Majel Barrett born 1932

Majel Barrett, born February 23, 1932, is one of the most endearing characters of the Star Trek franchise.  She appeared as Number One in The Cage, the pilot for the series, and then as Nurse Christine Chapel for the rest of the run.  She appeared as Lwaxana Troi in Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space 9.  She is the voice of the computers in all of the spin-offs.

Majel married Gene Roddenberry in 1969 and remained together until his death in 1991.  She  passed away in 2008 from leukemia.