Here is some stuff in the news today...
[Content Note: Video autoplays at link; misogynoir] In case you haven't yet seen Beyoncé's extraordinary new video for her single "Formation," here it is, if you can view video. The lyrics are here, and, in the video, they are set against a backdrop of images of black oppression in the US over centuries. One of many thoughts I had as I watched the video was recalling Whitney Houston, whose blackness was treated as something to be concealed and who was packaged as the "prom queen of soul" to make her palatable to white audiences, telling Rolling Stone in an interview in the '90s: "I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody's angel. I can get down-and-dirty. I can get raunchy." Beyoncé is communicating a lot of things in this video, and one of them is the explicit rejection of the expectation that black female artists wrench their blackness from their personhood.
Twitter "is planning to introduce an algorithmic timeline as soon as next week, BuzzFeed News has learned. The timeline will reorder tweets based on what Twitter's algorithm thinks people most want to see, a departure from the current feed's reverse chronological order. It is unclear whether Twitter will force users to use the algorithmic feed, or it will merely be an option." I've never seen a company so determined to destroy its own product. (Imagine if Twitter put half as much energy into meaningfully addressing harassment on its platform as it did into destroying its platform.) The thing is: Presumably, the algorithm is based on user interactions. And one of the best things about Twitter is the ability it gives privileged people to listen to and learn from marginalized people by following conversations without inserting ourselves. An algorithm dependent on interaction will fundamentally change how many of us use Twitter, in one of the best ways it can be used. Also? I don't just want to see things I "want" to see. I also want to see things I need to see.
[CN: War; death; torture] Fucking hell: "Detainees held by the Syrian government are dying on a massive scale amounting to a state policy of extermination of the civilian population, a crime against humanity, United Nations investigators have said. The UN commission of inquiry called on the security council to impose sanctions against Syrian officials in the civilian and military hierarchy responsible for or complicit in deaths, torture, and disappearances in custody, but stopped short of naming individuals. In their report released on Monday, the independent experts said they had also documented mass killings and torture of prisoners by two jihadi groups, al-Nusra Front and Islamic State, constituting war crimes."
[CN: Climate change; drought] "A new study finds that the semi-arid U.S. Southwest has begun to enter the 'drier climate state' that had been long-predicted from climate models. These findings match ones from September documenting an expansion of the entire world's dry and semi-arid climate regions in recent decades because of human-caused climate change. The new study from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) concludes that 'The weather patterns that typically bring moisture to the southwestern United States are becoming more rare, an indication that the region is sliding into the drier climate state predicted by global models.'"
[CN: Drought; death] Meanwhile, an ongoing drought in Somalia has left more than 50,000 children on the brink of death. "A stark warning issued by the UN's humanitarian office, Ocha, said the malnutrition situation is 'alarming.' It added that nearly one million Somalis, one in 12 of the population, 'struggle... to meet their food needs.' The drought in Somalia has been partly caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon which has affected east and southern Africa." Which has been exacerbated by climate change.
President Obama will reportedly "ask the US Congress for $1.8bn (£1.25bn) in emergency funding to combat the Zika virus. The virus, which is transmitted primarily through mosquitoes, has spread rapidly through the Americas. ...The money will go to mosquito control efforts and vaccine research programmes among other initiatives."
Today, the BBC "will air a documentary about the life of Misty Copeland, the first Black principal ballerina in the American Ballet Theater. ...These past few years Copeland has become the role model that young Black ballerinas have deserved."
[CN: Video autoplays at link] If you would like to watch UCLA gymnast Sophina DeJesus' 9.925 floor routine, here it is! And it is terrific!
[CN: Disablist language] James Cordon does some Carpool Karaoke with Elton John!
And finally! A man in India "is so dedicated to animals that he's spent the last 10 years saving up enough money to buy an ambulance, which he will use to save stray animals in need of urgent medical care. He's no veterinarian, but Balu has learned what he needs to handle a life or death situation, and now he and his wife have already saved the lives of a number of ill and injured dogs." Blub.