Women’s rights victory in Chile

This video says about itself:

Chile court lifts total ban on abortion

22 August 2017

After years of debate, Chile’s Constitutional Court has approved a law to legalise abortion in some circumstances.

The development is seen as a major victory for women’s rights groups and President Michelle Bachelet, a former director of UN Women.

Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman reports from Santiago.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chile: Court upholds women’s right to a safe abortion

Wednesday 23rd August 2017

Judges finally overturn Pinochet dictatorship’s assault on the right to choose

CHILE’S Constitutional Tribunal has partially reinstated women’s right to a safe and legal abortion after the US-backed Pinochet military dictatorship removed it 28 years ago.

Parliamentarians approved a Bill earlier this month allowing a termination when the mother’s life is in danger, the foetus is unviable or the pregnancy is the result of rape.

Despite the majority vote in Congress and widespread public support for the Bill, right-wing MPs filed two requests for review before the tribunal, claiming the law would violate the constitutional guarantee of “protection of the unborn.”

Judges voted six to four on Monday to dismiss both requests and uphold the constitutionality of the new law, handing victory to President Michelle Bachelet, whose government championed the Bill.

“What has prevailed is tolerance and that every woman may make decisions based on her values, religion, principles or real options.

“Today I am proud to say we have fulfilled a fundamental commitment of our government to the women in our country.

“It has been a long battle, fought with the weapons of democracy and dialogue, overcoming barriers and prejudice that prevented hundreds of women in the past from alleviating their suffering.”

Abortion was allowed in some circumstances under Chile’s 1931 health code and hospitals interpreted the maternal harm provision liberally under President Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government to offer virtual termination on demand, but this was outlawed in 1989 under the Washington-installed dictatorship.

The dictatorship, backed by the Catholic Church, argued that abortion was no longer necessary because of advances in modern medicine.

Legislators have introduced over a dozen bills to partly legalise abortion since 1991, but all have been shelved or rejected.

Until now, Chile was one of four countries in the Americas that banned abortion under all circumstances.

This video. om how the situation was until this recent decision, says about itself:

Chile: where all abortion is illegal

14 August 2015

Special report from Chile on the young girls who are forced to go through with pregnancies even if it’s the result of incest or rape, or to buy illegal abortion pills on the black market. Guillermo Galdos reports from Chile – which has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world.

Chilean Pinochet secret policemen convicted for murders

This 2012 Chilean music video is a song about the Pinochet dictatorship murderer Major Alvaro Corbalan Castilla, now convicted.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Chile: 33 Pinochet agents jailed for communist deaths

Friday 24th March 2017

CHILE’S Supreme Court jailed 33 intelligence agents of the Augusto Pinochet dictatorship on Wednesday for the 1987 murder of five communist resistance fighters.

In the longest sentences handed down in a human rights case, former National Information Centre chief General Hugo Salas Wenzel and Major Alvaro Corbalan Castilla both received 15 years.

They were already serving time for other crimes.

Another 21 were sentenced to 10 years and the rest to a minimum of five years.

The five victims were members of the Manuel Rodriguez Patriotic Front, the military wing of the Communist Party.

They were abducted in revenge for the Front’s kidnapping of an army officer in 1987 and thrown into the sea from a helicopter.

The families of Julian Pena Maltes, Alejandro Pinochet Arenas, Manuel Sepulveda Sanchez, Gonzalo Fuenzalida Navarrete and Julio Munoz Otarola will also receive compensation equivalent to £460,000.

Chilean mural art history

This video says about itself:

18 March 2017

The Chilean murals of the Brigada Ramona Parra remind us of lessons past and of those who stood up to imperialism and demanded a better life for the Chilean people.

Wildfires kill Chilean wildlife

This video from Chile says about itself:

3 February 2017

Amidst the forest fires emergency and the usage of SuperTanker and Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft to fight against the phenomenon, the Chilean game company Glacial Games demonstrated “SuperTanker The Game”, a new smartphone game that features foreign aircraft and politicians. The game, which can be downloaded for free on IOS and Android smartphones, allows its players to fly planes, dodge obstacles and put out the flames that consume the forests.

Chilean President Michelle Bachelet and former President Sebastian Pinera, but also Russian President Vladimir Putin are the game’s characters the players can pick to pilot the planes with. By tapping on only two buttons, the players can collect the water and release it over the burning trees.

The profits from playing this game will go the victims of the wildfires in Chile. There are plans to add more foreign politicians’ characters to the game.

You can download the game for Android phones here.

This 2015 video is called Chile’s beautiful scenery and wildlife.

From BirdLife:

‘Worst ever’ forest fires ravage Chile’s wildlife

By Irene Lorenzo, 3 Feb 2017

As strong winds continue to fuel the forest fires that are battering central and southern Chile, wild animals are fleeing the forests towards inhabited areas in search of food and shelter. CODEFF (BirdLife in Chile) has mobilized volunteers to help them.

A series of wildfires with multiple focal points have been affecting the central and southern regions of Chile since mid-January, stoked by high temperatures, low humidity and strong winds. The extension of these fires has been described by the media as the worst forest fire in Chile’s history, affecting seven of the country’s 15 regions.

The fires have already had a terrible human cost; thousands of people have had to abandon their homes for their safety, and over 1,500 houses have been completely destroyed. Eleven people have been confirmed dead, many of them firefighters. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of both local emergency services and international aid from countries such as the United States, Mexico and Peru, the country’s people are getting the help they need.

But humans aren’t the only species affected by the wildfires. Those that live in safe areas have reported that wild animals have started fleeing into towns, leaving their habitats to look for food and shelter. Wildlife rehabilitation centres across the country are treating all manner of animals affected by the fires: various species of snakes, birds and even larger felines such as the colocolo Leopardus colocolo and the cougar Puma concolor.

The regions of central Chile are very rich in biodiversity and host a variety of endemic species such as the Chilean mouse opossum Thylamys elegans and the Kodkod Leopardus guigna. It’s difficult to estimate the real damage these fires are causing in these forests but we do know that over 511 thousand hectares have already been burned as of 31 January. Of these, more than 50% is land used for forestry, around 20% are prairies and bushes, another 20% are native forest and the rest is agricultural land.

From the beginning, CODEFF has been contributing to the tracking, rescue, care and recovery of wildlife affected by the fires. They are working with teams of veterinarians and have trained over 100 volunteers to offer help in the most affected areas.

CODEFF is running a campaign to collect medicines and medical supplies for the treatment of burned animals. Safety equipment is also welcome, as it is used for volunteers – this includes helmets, filter masks, leather gloves and safety shoes.

They are also coordinating with various government agencies and other NGOs to go to the most remote areas in search of injured animals.

One of the main concerns at the moment is that some of the areas affected by the wildfires have been assessed as being Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) by BirdLife International. The damage needs to be assessed and sadly CODEFF can only monitor the situation for now. Analyses are being carried out through remote sensing and once they have more information, they will deploy new teams to help the affected wildlife.

If you wish to help CODEFF’s work, an account has been made available to collect funds to cover the expenses of this emergency. Please contact finanza@codeff.cl for details.

If you live in Chile and own medical supplies and safety equipment you could donate, please get in touch with Mauricio.valiente@codeff.cl.

This 26 January 2017 video is about the wildfires in Chile.

Wildfires are major polluters. Their plumes are three times as dense with aerosol-forming fine particles as previously believed. For the first time, researchers have flown an orchestra of modern instruments through brutishly turbulent wildfire plumes to measure their emissions in real time. They have also exposed other never before measured toxins: here.

Researchers studying centuries-old trees in South America have found a tight correlation between wildfires and a warm weather fluctuation that has become more frequent in recent decades — and will continue to be more frequent as the climate warms: here.

‘Habitable’ planet discovery near solar system

This video says about itself:

Proxima b: an Earth-like planet on our cosmic doorstep

24 August 2016

We’ve found a planet orbiting in the habitable zone of our nearest star, Proxima Centauri, just 4.25 light years away. Here’s what we know about it so far.

From the European Southern Observatory:

Planet Found in Habitable Zone Around Nearest Star

Pale Red Dot campaign reveals Earth-mass world in orbit around Proxima Centauri

24 August 2016

Astronomers using ESO telescopes and other facilities have found clear evidence of a planet orbiting the closest star to Earth, Proxima Centauri. The long-sought world, designated Proxima b, orbits its cool red parent star every 11 days and has a temperature suitable for liquid water to exist on its surface. This rocky world is a little more massive than the Earth and is the closest exoplanet to us — and it may also be the closest possible abode for life outside the Solar System. A paper describing this milestone finding will be published in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016.

Just over four light-years from the Solar System lies a red dwarf star that has been named Proxima Centauri as it is the closest star to Earth apart from the Sun. This cool star in the constellation of Centaurus is too faint to be seen with the unaided eye and lies near to the much brighter pair of stars known as Alpha Centauri AB.

During the first half of 2016 Proxima Centauri was regularly observed with the HARPS spectrograph on the ESO 3.6-metre telescope at La Silla in Chile and simultaneously monitored by other telescopes around the world [1]. This was the Pale Red Dot campaign, in which a team of astronomers led by Guillem Anglada-Escudé, from Queen Mary University of London, was looking for the tiny back and forth wobble of the star that would be caused by the gravitational pull of a possible orbiting planet [2].

As this was a topic with very wide public interest, the progress of the campaign between mid-January and April 2016 was shared publicly as it happened on the Pale Red Dot website and via social media. The reports were accompanied by numerous outreach articles written by specialists around the world.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé explains the background to this unique search: “The first hints of a possible planet were spotted back in 2013, but the detection was not convincing. Since then we have worked hard to get further observations off the ground with help from ESO and others. The recent Pale Red Dot campaign has been about two years in the planning.”

The Pale Red Dot data, when combined with earlier observations made at ESO observatories and elsewhere, revealed the clear signal of a truly exciting result. At times Proxima Centauri is approaching Earth at about 5 kilometres per hour — normal human walking pace — and at times receding at the same speed. This regular pattern of changing radial velocities repeats with a period of 11.2 days. Careful analysis of the resulting tiny Doppler shifts showed that they indicated the presence of a planet with a mass at least 1.3 times that of the Earth, orbiting about 7 million kilometres from Proxima Centauri — only 5% of the Earth-Sun distance [3].

Guillem Anglada-Escudé comments on the excitement of the last few months: “I kept checking the consistency of the signal every single day during the 60 nights of the Pale Red Dot campaign. The first 10 were promising, the first 20 were consistent with expectations, and at 30 days the result was pretty much definitive, so we started drafting the paper!”

Red dwarfs like Proxima Centauri are active stars and can vary in ways that would mimic the presence of a planet. To exclude this possibility the team also monitored the changing brightness of the star very carefully during the campaign using the ASH2 telescope at the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations Observatory in Chile and the Las Cumbres Observatory telescope network. Radial velocity data taken when the star was flaring were excluded from the final analysis.

Although Proxima b orbits much closer to its star than Mercury does to the Sun in the Solar System, the star itself is far fainter than the Sun. As a result Proxima b lies well within the habitable zone around the star and has an estimated surface temperature that would allow the presence of liquid water. Despite the temperate orbit of Proxima b, the conditions on the surface may be strongly affected by the ultraviolet and X-ray flares from the star — far more intense than the Earth experiences from the Sun [4].

Two separate papers discuss the habitability of Proxima b and its climate. They find that the existence of liquid water on the planet today cannot be ruled out and, in such case, it may be present over the surface of the planet only in the sunniest regions, either in an area in the hemisphere of the planet facing the star (synchronous rotation) or in a tropical belt (3:2 resonance rotation). Proxima b’s rotation, the strong radiation from its star and the formation history of the planet makes its climate quite different from that of the Earth, and it is unlikely that Proxima b has seasons.

This discovery will be the beginning of extensive further observations, both with current instruments [5] and with the next generation of giant telescopes such as the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Proxima b will be a prime target for the hunt for evidence of life elsewhere in the Universe. Indeed, the Alpha Centauri system is also the target of humankind’s first attempt to travel to another star system, the StarShot project.

Guillem Anglada-Escudé concludes: “Many exoplanets have been found and many more will be found, but searching for the closest potential Earth-analogue and succeeding has been the experience of a lifetime for all of us. Many people’s stories and efforts have converged on this discovery. The result is also a tribute to all of them. The search for life on Proxima b comes next…”


[1] Besides data from the recent Pale Red Dot campaign, the paper incorporates contributions from scientists who have been observing Proxima Centauri for many years. These include members of the original UVES/ESO M-dwarf programme (Martin Kürster and Michael Endl), and exoplanet search pioneers such as R. Paul Butler. Public observations from the HARPS/Geneva team obtained over many years were also included.

[2] The name Pale Red Dot reflects Carl Sagan’s famous reference to the Earth as a pale blue dot. As Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf star it will bathe its orbiting planet in a pale red glow.

[3] The detection reported today has been technically possible for the last 10 years. In fact, signals with smaller amplitudes have been detected previously. However, stars are not smooth balls of gas and Proxima Centauri is an active star. The robust detection of Proxima b has only been possible after reaching a detailed understanding of how the star changes on timescales from minutes to a decade, and monitoring its brightness with photometric telescopes.

[4] The actual suitability of this kind of planet to support water and Earth-like life is a matter of intense but mostly theoretical debate. Major concerns that count against the presence of life are related to the closeness of the star. For example gravitational forces probably lock the same side of the planet in perpetual daylight, while the other side is in perpetual night. The planet’s atmosphere might also slowly be evaporating or have more complex chemistry than Earth’s due to stronger ultraviolet and X-ray radiation, especially during the first billion years of the star’s life. However, none of the arguments has been proven conclusively and they are unlikely to be settled without direct observational evidence and characterisation of the planet’s atmosphere. Similar factors apply to the planets recently found around TRAPPIST-1.

[5] Some methods to study a planet’s atmosphere depend on it passing in front of its star and the starlight passing through the atmosphere on its way to Earth. Currently there is no evidence that Proxima b transits across the disc of its parent star, and the chances of this happening seem small, but further observations to check this possibility are in progress.

More information

This research is presented in a paper entitled “A terrestrial planet candidate in a temperate orbit around Proxima Centauri”, by G. Anglada-Escudé et al., to appear in the journal Nature on 25 August 2016.

The team is composed of Guillem Anglada-Escudé (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK), Pedro J. Amado (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), John Barnes (Open University, Milton Keynes, UK), Zaira M. Berdiñas (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucia – CSIC, Granada, Spain), R. Paul Butler (Carnegie Institution of Washington, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Washington, USA), Gavin A. L. Coleman (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK), Ignacio de la Cueva (Astroimagen, Ibiza, Spain), Stefan Dreizler (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), Michael Endl (The University of Texas at Austin and McDonald Observatory, Austin, Texas, USA), Benjamin Giesers (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), Sandra V. Jeffers (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), James S. Jenkins (Universidad de Chile, Santiago, Chile), Hugh R. A. Jones (University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK), Marcin Kiraga (Warsaw University Observatory, Warsaw, Poland), Martin Kürster (Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie, Heidelberg, Germany), María J. López-González (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), Christopher J. Marvin (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), Nicolás Morales (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), Julien Morin (Laboratoire Univers et Particules de Montpellier, Université de Montpellier & CNRS, Montpellier, France), Richard P. Nelson (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK), José L. Ortiz (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), Aviv Ofir (Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel), Sijme-Jan Paardekooper (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK), Ansgar Reiners (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), Eloy Rodriguez (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), Cristina Rodriguez-Lopez (Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía – CSIC, Granada, Spain), Luis F. Sarmiento (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany), John P. Strachan (Queen Mary University of London, London, UK), Yiannis Tsapras (Astronomisches Rechen-Institut, Heidelberg, Germany), Mikko Tuomi (University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK) and Mathias Zechmeister (Institut für Astrophysik, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany).

ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.


An ambitious project is under way to send tiny spaceships via laser beam to a nearby star [Alpha Centauri]. Can it be done?

Signs of planet detected around sun’s nearest neighbor star. Proxima Centauri companion orbits in habitable zone: here.