Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

The transgender community got yet another win yesterday after a judge directed principal registrar of persons to effect name changes in the national IDs of five of its members in 21 days.This means Maurene Muia, Alesandra Ogeta, Maria Mbugua, Audrey Mbugua and Dalziel Wafula will officially use their new names on their national identification documents to reflect their new identity. Muia, formerly Maurice Muia, Mbugua, formely Andrew Mbugua and the other three formally changed their names through deed poll paid for and processed at the AG’s office. However, it was never reflected on their IDs.High Court judge George Odunga yesterday gave the 21-day ultimatum or an order would be given against the registrar, declaring he failed in a constitutional mandate.Odunga said the case had been put off on several occasions despite the Attorney General givinghis legal opinion.“The AG has given the registrar a legal opinion, which should have settled the matter…it cannot be put off any further,” he said, adding that such “inaction” to carry out a statutory mandate is contrary to the Constitution.

Source: Names ruling win for transgender individuals | The Star, Kenya

Budget 2017: An economic or spiritual matter?

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made a strong call to conversion in his 2017 Budget Speech. Quoting Pope Francis he said, “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”. He went on to say, “We need to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation”.

There is no doubt that South Africa is sitting on a fast-ticking social time bomb. Crunching numbers and good fiscal control alone will no longer keep the wolves at bay.

Gordhan’s Budget Speech alluded many times to key themes in Catholic Social Teaching (CST): option for the poor, trust, solidarity, human dignity, the call to community, responsibility and accountability. The 2017 Budget pointed to a bigger problem which is not simply economic: at the heart of South Africa’s woes is a spiritual crisis. We must build a true community of kinship. This is our strongest antidote to the crisis.

Source: Jesuit Institute 

Slovenia allows same-sex marriage – POLITICO

Country’s first lesbian wedding takes place this weekend, but gay couples are not allowed to adopt.


Slovenia permitted same-sex marriage for the first time on Friday, with a law coming into effect that gives gay couples largely the same rights as heterosexuals, but bars them from jointly adopting children, Reuters reported.

At least one same-sex couple will get married in Slovenia on Saturday, the first day the ceremonies can be held, the news site Žurnal24 reported.

Source: – POLITICO

The 2017 Election Briefing – England – Britain Elects

A useful introduction from “Britain Elects” to the local council elections due in May.

This new series of briefings will cover the elections to be held across England, Scotland and Wales on 04 May, 2017.

There will be elections to much of the English shire authorities, the principal authorities of Scotland and Wales, the six mayoral contests in England and the Metropolitan Borough of Doncaster.

This part, of three, covers England.

Source:  – Britain Elects

Entrenched: Nasty chemicals abound in what was thought an untouched environment | The Economist

NOT far off the coast of Guam lies the deepest point on Earth’s surface, the Mariana trench. Its floor is 10,994 metres below sea level. If Mount Everest were flipped upside down into it, there would still be more than 2km of clear water between the mountain’s base and the top of the ocean.

Such isolation has led many to assume that it and similar seabed trenches will be among the few remaining pristine places on the planet. However, a study led by Alan Jamieson of Newcastle University, in England, has shown that nothing could be further from the truth. As Dr Jamieson and his colleagues report this week in Nature Ecology and Evolution, trenches are actually loaded with pollutants.

Despite the cold, the darkness and the high pressure, ocean trenches are home to ecosystems similar in many ways to those found on other parts of the planet. In one important respect, though, they are different. This is the source of the energy that powers them. In most ecosystems, sunlight fuels the growth of plants, which are then consumed by animals. In a few shallower parts of the ocean, hydrothermal vents provide energy-rich chemicals that form the basis of local food chains. No vents are known to exist below 5,000 metres, though, and no sunlight penetrates a trench. The organisms found in them thus depend entirely on dead organic material raining down upon them from far above.

Since these nutrients, having once flowed into a trench, never make their way out again, Dr Jamieson found the notion that trenches have somehow remained untouched by human activities questionable.

Source: The Economist

Study links same-sex marriage in the US with 7 percent drop in teen suicides · PinkNews

The results of a new study suggests that the legalisation of same-sex marriage in the US is linked to a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts by teenagers.

The study, from the JAMA paediatrics journal, looked at data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between the years of 1999 and 2015.

It notes that there was a 7 percent drop in suicide attempts, around 134,000 fewer teenage suicides each year, from the population overall.

Source:  · PinkNews

Liberation theology in today’s Catholic Church is focus of historic Ibero-American conference at Boston College

Through its ministry and evangelization, the Catholic Church must focus on economically excluded communities, eliminating inequality, and uplifting disadvantaged people throughout the world, according to Hispanic theologians from Latin America, Spain, and the U.S. who attended a historic conference at Boston College.

That message – in many ways distinctive of theological movements of Latin America – will be delivered to Pope Francis in a sign of support for reforms within the Church and throughout societies of the world, according to one of the organizers of the Ibero-American Conference of Theology, which concluded Friday, February 10.

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Visiting Associate Professors Rafael Luciani and Felix Palazzi
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professors Rafael Luciani and Felix Palazzi were co-organizers of the conference at Boston College. (Gary Wayne Gilbert)

The weeklong conference examined the role of liberation theology as Pope Francis and the Catholic Church respond to issues of globalization, migration and economic exclusion, said Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Visiting Associate Professor Rafael Luciani, a co-organizer of the conference with his Boston College colleague, visiting associate professor Felix Palazzi.

Source: Boston College Chronicle

How will leaving the European Union affect our food?| The Guardian

Food barely featured in the referendum, but years of jibes about Eurocrats controlling our food standards, and myths about bent bananas, left their mark. Food politics will now come to the fore in ways most consumers might not like.

This was predicted by the few studies which bothered to look at this vital area of UK life. The academic reports on Brexit unanimously anticipated not liberation but a period of turmoil and dislocation in the food system.

Farming was at the foundation of the common market in the late 1950s. The UK, then on its own, also set up a system of market support. The mechanisms differed but the goals were similar. Since the UK joined the EEC in 1973, decades of EU food law has been built, honed by crises – mad cow, food safety, trade deals, expansion.

Source:  The Guardian

There’s a powerful conservative case to be made for gay marriage

On January 1 this year, the tiny territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha in the Atlantic became the latest country to allow same-sex marriage. Its elected council voted for the reform after a consultation found that a majority of its 5600 residents supported the change. After all, isn’t that what’s meant to happen in a representative democracy?

One after another, countries across the world have legalised gay marriage, usually because that is what their people wanted.  Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK, the US and Uruguay have all taken this step.  Finland is about to follow.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

World cardinals back pope after anonymous attacks by conservatives | Reuters

Senior Roman Catholic cardinals from the around the world defended Pope Francis on Monday against a spate of recent attacks from conservatives challenging his authority.

In an unusual move, nine cardinals in a group advising Francis on Vatican economic and structural reforms issued a statement expressing “full support for the pope’s work” and guaranteeing “full backing for him and his teachings”.

The statement was unusual in that the cardinals – from Italy, Chile, Austria, India, Germany, Congo, the United States, Australia and Honduras – customarily issue statements only at the end of their meetings, which are held four times a year.

The statement said the cardinals expressed their solidarity with the pope “in light of recent events,” which Vatican sources said was a clear reference to the attacks.

Source: Reuters