70% of our planet is made of oceans and seas. 97% of that 70% is still uncharted territory. And we are destroying it, so much so that by the year 2048 all commercial fish species will be extinct.
We've only explored about 3% of what's out there in the ocean. Already we've found the world's highest mountains, the world's deepest valleys, underwater lakes, underwater waterfalls. There's still 97%, and either that 97% is empty or just full of surprises.
David Gallo: Underwater astonishments
(click for video)
In a place where we thought no life at all, we find more life, we think, and diversity and density than the tropical rainforest.
DESPITE TOUGHER LAWS, INDIA CAN'T SHAKE RAPE CULTURE.
NEW DELHI — Despite tougher laws against sexual violence, the grisly rape and murder of two teenage girls found hanging from a tree shows India has a long way to go to safeguard women in its male-dominated, socially stratified culture, critics say.
"Even though the laws are there, many people feel they can get away with anything, an attitude that some of our politicians have gone out their way to encourage," said Ranjana Kumari, a prominent women's rights activist and director of the Centre for Social Research in New Delhi.
The incident in Katra Sadatganj, an impoverished village in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, is just the latest in a string of attacks. At least two other rape cases were reported in the past two weeks in the same state, including one involving a woman who was found hanging from a tree Wednesday. The incidents are igniting debate about sexual violence against women and triggering outrage over lax attitudes about it, despite the strengthening of laws against rape last year.
The 14- and 15-year-old girls stepped out into a field at night on May 27 to relieve themselves — a common practice in India where more than a hundred villagers might share a single toilet — but never returned. After they were discovered suspended from the branches of a mango tree, Lal and other relatives refused to cut down their bodies for almost a day to ensure police conducted a proper investigation of the scene.
The case is evoking memories of the 2012 gang rape and killing of physiotherapy student Jyoti Singh, 23, on a bus. In January, a 51-year-old Danish tourist was gang raped in New Delhi. Last year, three men raped an American tourist hitchhiking in Himachal Pradesh, a mountainous northern region popular among tourists.
More than 240,000 sexual offenses against women were reported in 2012, according to Indian government statistics. But human rights experts believe that number is vastly underestimated because many women don't report the crimes.
India's government enacted measures last year to address concerns after nationwide protests seeking more security for women followed Singh's death. The new laws mandate strict guidelines for reporting rapes, shorter trials, less onerous hurdles for victims making accusations and requirements that female officers process victims.
However, high-profile rapes continue to occur, suggesting men's behaviour isn't changing and marring the country's image abroad with the U.K. and other countries issuing travel advisories. Last year, the number of female tourists dropped 10%, according to industry experts, in a country where tourism makes up 6% of GDP.
Meanwhile, politicians don't seem to be helping. In early June, Madhya Pradesh state Home Minister Babulal Gaur — who oversees the police — cast doubt on whether rape should always be considered a punishable offense.
"It is a social crime which depends on the man and the woman," said Gaur, who is a powerful member of new Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP. "It is sometimes right and sometimes wrong."
Party officials said his comments reflected his personal opinion, not an official party politician.
Gaur's comments come two months after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav — the state's governor — publicly opposed capital punishment for rape."Boys will be boys," he said. "Sometimes they make mistakes."
Such comments show how values enshrined in the new anti-rape laws have yet to permeate Indian society, Kumari said.
"There is a lack of political will to take sterner action against these cases," she said. "It is not a question of law and order but the culture of fear for women and impunity for men."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke out, saying politicians must work to protect women.
"We cannot politicize rape … or play with the dignity of women," he said, his first comments on the issue since taking office. "We must work together (to solve the problem)."
India's traditional hierarchy of social castes is a major factor in the people's resistance to changing their attitudes, Kumari said.
In Katra Sadatganj, the two girls were Dalits, or untouchables — the lowest of the low in India's caste system.
Police arrested three brothers in the case: Pappu Yadav, Awadesh Yadav and Urwesh Yadav, all belonging to the Yadav caste — higher on the scale than Dalits, and politically powerful.
"Members of the upper caste treat the state like their personal fiefdom, where most low-caste women are considered fair game," said Kumari.
Federal authorities also arrested two police officers in the case on allegations that they failed to properly register the complaint about the rape. The officers now face two years in prison.
"We have a zero tolerance when it comes to how the (police) force reacts to sexual crimes." said Rajan Bhagat, spokesperson for the police in the state of Delhi. "A woman can walk into a police station at any hour and find a female police officer who will promptly file her complaint."
There's been some progress, Kumari says. The government is enforcing its laws, at least in cases that garner public attention. People are more open to discussing the problem, too.
"A few years ago, a crime like this where the victims are Dalits in rural areas would never have been investigated, let alone reported in national and international media," Kumari said. "The fact that the accused from the powerful Yadav caste have been arrested and are sure to be punished is important."
In Calcutta, Suzette Jordan — a survivor of a brutal and widely reported gang rape in 2012 — revealed her identity, confronting a culture that often blames and punishes victims instead of the accused.
Jordan was gang raped in Calcutta's posh Park Street neighborhood, giving rise to her moniker in the media as the "Park Street victim."
"I wanted my life back," she said. "I didn't want to be known as the Park Street victim. I have a name. I refuse to be intimidated. We need more women to come forward, to report rape, to use the new laws to ensure the accused are punished."
In Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh, activists have taken matters into their own hands to change peoples' attitudes.
Usha Vishwakarma, 23, set up the Red Brigade, a women's group that physically attacks men who harass girls. Changes to the law haven't accomplished enough, she said. She plans to set up chapters of her controversial group in other cities.
"We saw sexual crimes dip by over 50% in our neighborhood ever since the group began," said Vishwakarma. "This is the only way to curb such crimes by taking on the men in a manner they understand: by using our fists or by publicly shaming them."
Source: USA Today
Blind Spot (click for video) is a documentary that establishes the inextricable link between the energy we use, the way we run our economy and the effect it has had on our environment.
Taking as a starting point the inevitable energy depletion scenario know as Peak Oil, it demonstrates that we are at a crossroad of two paths: if we continue to burn fossil fuels our ecology will collapse, but if we don't, our economy will.
Either path we choose will have a profound effect on our way.
The arrogance of entering a community on the other side of the world and not even think for one second that you can LEARN something.
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The arrogance of feeling so superior, so much so that you go and TEACH your way to people who, until now, have been perfectly capable to live their lives without your "help".
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To the women who choose not to have kids, I have one thing to say: thank you.
You probably don’t hear it enough. In fact, you probably don’t hear it at all. What you do hear is an array of pro-childbearing responses, such as, “You’ll change your mind someday,” or, “Doesn't your mother want grandkids?” or, “You’ll never find a husband if you never want to have kids.”
All things considered, “thank you” is probably on the opposite end of what you hear.
But seriously: thank you. Thank you for recognizing that children rearing isn't for you and being true to who you are. It doesn't mean you hate kids. It just means that raising one is not part of your path in life.
Thank you for not succumbing to the societal pressures. I've known far too many parents who had kids because that’s what was expected of them. Working in childcare, you see more of this type than you wish to see. The resentment is almost palpable. They love their children -at least, they have no choice but to love their children- but every single movement seems to scream, “I wasn't meant for this.” I've known too many people who grew up with at least one parent who harboured that resentment, who let that resentment dictate how they parented. I've seen how that influenced the way these former children are now as adults, or even as parents themselves.
Thank you for not trying to compromise who you are in an effort to keep a partner around. Thank you for being honest and open and refusing to apologize for who you are. Everyone has different values. Everyone wants something different in life. It takes a lot of guts and confidence to say, “This is what I want in life. It’s not the orthodox way, but it’s my way.”
Thank you for not trying to silence that feeling in your gut as a means to validate your life. There are too many people in this world who cannot figure out their path -or have stumbled while walking down said path- and decided that maybe having a child could provide that meaning and definition instead. You understand that down this path lies vicarious living and hurt emotions and you recognize that there are so many other ways to find love and meaning and joy in your life.
Raising children is a difficult, onerous, frustrating, and disappointing gig. It’s tough enough for those who want it. It is a rewarding and loving gig as well, but it’s not something one should go into while focusing only on reward and love and societal acceptance. In this day and age, with a booming population in almost every country, it makes no sense to pressure every person to have a baby. But we’re sticklers to tradition, ritualistic to a fault.
So thank you. It’s not easy to stand firm with your belief. Honestly, truly, and genuinely: thank you.
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