In the News

Here is some stuff in the news today...

In news that will surprise no one around here, I expect: "Political correctness," i.e. giving people in mixed-gender groups the tools to communicate respectfully and an expectation that they'll do it, works. "In creativity exercises involving mixed-gender groups, Jack Goncalo and his colleagues found that people instructed to be politically correct generated a greater quantity of novel ideas than those instructed merely to be polite, or given no instructions at all. ...The received wisdom is that 'political correctness' refers to something stifling and oppressive, while 'true creativity requires a kind of anarchy in which people are permitted to speak their minds, whatever the consequence,' Goncalo was quoted as saying. Yet when groups included men and women, the reverse proved true: in a creativity exercise, which involved coming up with new ideas for a business to occupy an empty building, the PC group did better."

[Content Note: Police brutality] The overall murder rate in the US is down, but police killings are at a two-decade high: "A count of 'justifiable homicides' in the FBI's Uniform Crime Report found that 461 people were shot and killed by police in 2013. What that figure tells us, more than anything, is that 461 is the bare minimum number of people who were shot by police last year. And it is almost certainly a dramatic under-estimation. Departments are not required to submit data for this count; it is voluntary. ...What's more, the figure is only a count of 'justifiable homicides,' which means those that are considered legally defensible. This means jurisdictions are least likely to include those shootings that are subject to criminal scrutiny in their reports."

Sultan Kösen, the world's tallest known man, and Chandra Bahadur Dangi, the world's shortest known man, met at a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Guinness Book of World Records, and this totally got me all choked up: "Even though he is short and I am tall, we have had similar struggles throughout our lives, and when I look into Chandra's eyes, I can see he's a good man," said Kösen. It takes some effort to look into someone else's eyes when you're seven feet apart in height. We should all make such an effort to see each other.

[CN: Sexual assault in the military; victim-blaming] This is incredible: "Here's What Happened During One Victim's Military Sexual Harassment Investigation: Katie Rapp, a soldier who reported sexual harassment while she was deployed in Afghanistan in 2011-2012, recorded her four-hour interview with a sexual assault investigator and provided it exclusively to BuzzFeed News." Everything about this story is fucking terrible, but what really sticks out to me is how Rapp's only real ally was her male squad leader, and both "said they have repeatedly been forced to defend their friendship to the National Guard," who repeatedly accused them of having an affair. Sure. Because there's no other reason a man would stand up for a woman being harassed. Fuck.

[CN: Harassment; racism; sexual policing; self-harm] This is not surprising but it is nonetheless appalling: "What an Uncensored Letter to M.L.K. Reveals."

[CN: Class warfare] This is one of the major reasons that I (and lots of other people) object to building healthcare reform through for-profit insurance companies: "Many Americans may believe that private insurance can keep major medical bills at bay. But a new survey finds that one-fifth of people with private plans still spend at least 5 percent of their income on out-of-pocket health care costs. ...The survey also shows that 'people who have insurance but have high health care costs relative to their income are as likely to skip getting the care they need as those with no insurance at all,' Commonwealth Fund President Dr. David Blumenthal said in the news release." Insurance doesn't make healthcare free, and politicians need to stop pretending that it does.

If you ever wondered what giant otters were talking about, now you know! (I didn't even know there were giant otters, previous to reading this article!)

And finally! Get the tissues: The APSCA's 2014 Humane Awards Cat, Kid, and Dog of the Year. ♥

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