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SEPTEMBER 2014

 
 

LANIAKEA: MAPPING OUR HOME SUPERCLUSTER


Superclusters are regions of space that are densely packed with galaxies - are the biggest structures in the Universe. But scientists have struggled to define exactly where one supercluster ends and another begins. Now, a team based in Hawaii has come up with a new technique that maps the Universe according to the flow of galaxies across space. Redrawing the boundaries of the cosmic map, they redefine our home supercluster and name it Laniakea, which means 'immeasurable heaven' in Hawaiian. Watch Now

 

DRIVING AMERICAN POLITICS UNDERGROUND

Politics, if we take politics to mean the shaping and discussion of issues, concerns and laws that foster the common good, is no longer the business of our traditional political institutions. These institutions, including the two major political parties, the courts and the press, are not democratic. They are used to crush any vestiges of civic life that calls, as a Protesters block Atlanta’s Ponce de Leon Avenue outside a McDonald’s restaurant. They were demanding that fast food chains pay workers at least $15 an hour. AP/David Goldman

traditional democracy does, on its citizens to share among all its members the benefits, sacrifices and risks of a nation. They offer only the facade of politics, along with elaborate, choreographed spectacles filled with skillfully manufactured emotion and devoid of real political content. We have devolved into what Alexis de Tocqueville feared - "democratic despotism." The squabbles among the power elites, rampant militarism and the disease of imperialism, along with a mindless nationalism that characterizes all public debate, have turned officially sanctioned politics into a carnival act. Pundits and news celebrities on the airwaves engage in fevered speculation about whether the wife of a former president will run for office - and this after the mediocre son of another president spent eight years in the White House. This is not politics. It is gossip. Opinion polls, the staple of what serves as political reporting, are not politics. They are forms of social control. The use of billions of dollars to fund election campaigns and pay lobbyists to author legislation is not politics. It is legalized bribery. Read More

 

PRIVACY IS A RIGHT-REGARDLESS OF WHO YOU ARE

"Privacy is a privilege," Roxane Gay reminded us in her recent essay about the leak of naked photos of several young, famous women. "It is rarely enjoyed by women or transgender men and women, queer people or people of color. When you are an Other, you are always in danger of having your body or some other intimate part of yourself exposed in one way or another." It's not just celebrity women who aren't seen as having the right to bodily autonomy and privacy. While there is, rightly, outcry over last weekend's leak of celebrities' private photos onto the internet, defending the privacy of people who are out of the limelight is an ongoing challenge. It actually took a class-action lawsuit to figure out men should not be allowed to videotape women's strip searches in jail. That's right—just last week, a federal judge ruled that it is unconstitutional for male guards to videotape the strip searches. This is a description of how the strip searches took place in the Western Massachusetts Regional Women’s Correctional Center: “When women are moved to the Segregation Unit for mental health or disciplinary reasons, they are strip searched. With four or more officers present, the inmate must: take off all her clothes, lift her breasts and, if large, her stomach, turn around, bend over, spread her buttocks with her hands and cough, and stand up and face the wall. Read More

 

BIG TELECOM VS. THE WORLD

FCC chair Tom Wheeler recently proposed rules that would divide the Internet into fast lanes for wealthy corporations and slow lanes for the rest of us. These rules would be a massive handout to Big Telecom and the death of Net Neutrality. With a critical September 15 deadline for public input less than a week from today, we have to go all out to tell the FCC not to usher in a corporate takeover of the internet, and instead make the change we really need: Reclassifying the Internet as a public utility. CREDO is joining a huge global protest to defend a free and open Internet -- Big Telecom vs. The World. It's being organized by our allies at Open Media and includes people from pro-internet coaltitions around the world. Will you join us? If we don't speak out for the open Internet now, it will be hard to turn back. We need you to voice support for net neutrality and stop the Internet slow lane before it's too late. Click here to stand with users around the world and tell the FCC and global leaders to stop the corporate takeover.

 

PROP 45 WILL ALLOW CALIF. TO REJECT HEALTH INSURANCE RATE HIKES

For the next two months, Californians will to be subjected to a barrage of TV, radio and online ads, which, ironically, they unknowingly will be paying for with their health insurance premiums. The ads are a part of a multi-pronged, multimillion dollar campaign — developed by public relations, advertising firms and political consultants for the state's biggest insurers - to convince voters that an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot designed to protect them against unreasonable rate increases will actually cause their premiums to go up. As of last week, a small handful of health insurers had contributed tens of millions of dollars to an organization called Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs. If you think the companies' CEOs opened their personal checkbooks to finance that group’s work, think again. It is their customers that are paying for the propaganda campaign. Californians Against Higher Health Care Costs (CAHHCC) is not a grassroots, consumer-led organization as the name implies. If you check out its website, you'll read that it's a “coalition of doctors, nurses, hospitals, health plans, and California employers" who want the state's residents to vote against Proposition 45, which would give the state's insurance regulators the ability to reject health insurance rate increases they deem excessive. Read More

 

SEXIST HATERS WON'T STOP FEMINIST GAMERS

According to a widely circulated study from the Entertainment Software Association, women now outnumber teenage boys among the ranks of videogame players. That's despite the fact that many best-selling video games still notoriously rely on tired, hyper-masculine narratives with women as little more than a scantily-clad garnish on a hearty meal of combat scenes and weapon upgrades. Outside of mainstream game culture though, female game developers are at the forefront of challenging sexism in games, creating titles that include women as authentic characters and that center on personal narratives instead of predictable power fantasies. Indie games have actually become a incredibly exciting place to be a feminist in recent years, offering fresh perspectives on what games should be about and welcoming an explosion of new talent, particularly from women. Many have explored underrepresented topics like queer coming of age, reproductive rights and trans experiences. Contemporary journalism and critical writing about games are also full of feminist voices of all genders from blogs and zines to industry sites, game writers are shaping a robust critical dialogue around representation and diversity in games. Some days, it feels like we’re at a crossroads in games, that the power of thoughtful transformative work is pushing us forward. But then the death threats start up again and we’re reminded that the process of untangling gaming culture from toxic misogyny is still very much a work in progress. Read More

 

JOHN'S FACES GO PUBLIC

Are the faces of those prosecuted for purchasing humans for sex available online in YOUR community? If not, why not? Oakland, Richmond and Fresno, California decided recently to put perpetrators online, because public humiliation is known to help end sex trafficking. According to Oakland's website: "Sex trafficking – buying and selling human beings for sex – is illegal. One of the fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world, sex trafficking forces thousands of men, women, and children into a life of prostitution every year. This low-risk, high-profit crime affects victims from all walks of life. The United States is one of the top destinations for trafficking in persons, and California is a top destination state. The Oakland Police Department is committed to combating sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation. We are dedicated to identifying and rescuing victims of trafficking and locating and arresting perpetrators of this crime. We work closely with the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to hold the perpetrators of these serious crimes accountable; we also work with victim advocacy groups to provide support to the victims. The community also plays an important role in combating trafficking. An informed community is an empowered community. If you believe someone you know is a victim of trafficking, resources are available to assist you. There are several ways to report sex trafficking." Help & Resources to learn more.

 

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