In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

This is a cool story about archaeologists having discovered remains of an ancient ancestor of the present-day elephant. Gomphotheres "were smaller than mammoths, similar to the size of the modern elephants" and "dominated the regions in North America." There's this little part of me that thinks, "Wow, it would be so cool to just see a gomphothere walking down the street," but there's a bigger part of me that's all, "I got enough drama with deer."

(Okay, I hope you all enjoyed that story and my little deer joke, because the tenor of the news is going to plummet precipitously from here.)

[Content Note: Rape culture; description of sexual assault] This is a really important piece about how a student named Anna at the Hobart and William Smith Colleges in central New York was repeatedly raped by football players and how the college took "just 12 days to investigate the rape report, hold a hearing and clear the football players. The football team went on to finish undefeated in its conference, while the woman was left, she said, to face the consequences—threats and harassment for accusing members of the most popular sports team on campus." This, right here, is why we don't shame victims who decide not to report their rapes. And this, right here, is why we need to defend people who advocate for taking rape seriously, and listen to people who question whether traditional models of "justice" are working for victims. This, right here, is why we support survivors.

[CN: War; violence] In Israel and Gaza: "The Israeli security cabinet had agreed to a 'de-escalation' of the conflict, to begin at 9am today, but Hamas rejected the proposal, saying it had not been consulted and its demands were not being met." Hamas continued to fire rockets, and so Israel resumed its bombing. In an official statement, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said: "Hamas's rejection of the ceasefire gives Israel full legitimacy to expand the operation to protect our people. No country would sit idly by while its civilian population is subjected to terrorist rocket fire. Israel is no exception."

[CN: War; violence] In Afghanistan: "Afghan defense ministry officials say a suicide car bomb has killed at least 89 people in eastern Afghanistan. Tuesday's attack took place in a region [the Waziristan territory] that borders Pakistan. Authorities in the Afghan province of Paktika say almost all the victims are civilians, and they fear the death toll may rise." The massive blast destroyed "around 50 shops on both sides of the road," and rescuers are still searching for survivors and dead. The Afghan Taliban has denied responsibility for the attack, and the Pakistan Taliban has not yet claimed or denied responsibility.

[CN: War; violence; terrorism; misogyny] In Iraq: "Gunmen slaughtered 25 [sex workers] in two Baghdad brothels, Iraqi police said. A nearby shop owner told NBC News that the attackers were wearing Iraqi security service uniforms. ...Baghdad police confirmed that 25 sex workers had been killed in Saturday's shootings, adding that the attackers left notes claiming the killings were punishment."

[CN: Accident; death; injury] At least nineteen people have been killed and as many as 120 injured in a serious train derailment in Moscow during morning rush hour. "Russia's investigative committee said it was looking into the causes of the accident. It said, however, there was no suspicion of a militant attack, the cause for scores of deaths in Moscow's underground in years past."

[CN: Extreme weather; food insecurity; death; photo of dying child at link] In South Sudan, where war and famine have created a major humanitarian crisis, the onset of the rainy season has further exacerbated the already dire situation: "The UN warns that up to four million people are at risk of food insecurity, with young children facing the highest risk of malnutrition. ...Child mortality in Bentiu's UN Protection of Civilians site [which houses approximately 45,000 internally displaced persons] has reached alarming levels, with approximately four children below the age of five dying per day. Aid workers fight an uphill battle against the deplorable water and sanitation conditions in the camp, which provide fertile ground for diseases."

[CN: Extreme weather] The Philippines is still recovering from Super Typhoon Haiyan and now they're facing another major storm: "Thousands of people fled their homes and ships sheltered from heavy seas in the Philippines on Tuesday as the first major storm of the rainy season strengthened into a typhoon. Typhoon Rammasun was set to strike the Bicol region in the east of the country at 6:00pm (1000 GMT), with Manila and other heavily populated areas also expected to be hit early Wednesday, the state weather service said. 'We are preparing for the worst it is critical now that we finish the evacuations,' said Rafaelito Alejandro, civil defence chief of Bicol, an impoverished farming and fishing region of 5.4 million people. About 6,000 residents had already moved to evacuation centres, with authorities aiming to have another 39,000 take shelter before the typhoon hits, he said."

[CN: Extreme weather] In California: "On Tuesday the State Water Resources Control Board in California is expected to institute statewide mandatory water restrictions for the first time. All of California is in some type of drought and reservoirs are precariously low in many places."

[CN: Extreme weather] Over Lake Michigan: "Waterspouts have been reported along with showers and thunderstorms over the southern portions of Lake Michigan, officials said. ...Scattered showers and thunderstorms are set to develop throughout the day Tuesday as unseasonably cold air spreads over the warm lake waters and across the Chicago area. The setup will keep the potential for additional waterspouts to develop throughout the day, mainly in the southeastern portions of Lake Michigan, according to a Marine Weather Statement issued by the National Weather Service Tuesday morning. The alert included portions of northwest Indiana." Harbor your boats!

War, war, war. Extreme weather, extreme weather, extreme weather. And right in the middle, a colossal humanitarian crisis that is the result of war and extreme weather acting in concert to devastate a population.

I didn't plan it that way. I only realized after I'd put it all together.

The international community is largely ignoring what's happening in South Sudan. Which is criminally indecent, and also a horrendous metaphor for how we refuse to look at our global future, if we don't get our shit together. If it isn't already too late.

I know I usually end on an up-note, but sometimes the news just calls for serious contemplation and no excuse to look away.

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