How US gun control compares to the rest of the world

211/365: beware of 9mm.
The Charleston murders have renewed the sporadic debates over whether gun control might have prevented this latest of tragedies.

To quote President Obama the day after the shooting in the AME Church,

“At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this kind of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency. It is in our power to do something about it.”

So far, however, the US has not done “something about it.”

The National Rifle Association (NRA), it seems, has so much power over politicians that even when 90% of Americans (including a majority of NRA members) wanted universal background checks to be adopted following the Newtown killings of 2012, no federal action ensued. Certainly, it’s unlikely that any useful legislation will emerge in South Carolina.

The NRA stranglehold on appropriate anti-crime measures is only part of the problem, though.… Read the rest

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Where Feminism Left Me

Nelly
From 2011, David Ker Thomson writing at CounterPunch:

I’ve been with feminism for two decades.  Where does it leave me?

Friends, employers, family, and so on, seem to have gathered enough information about me to have decided, to their satisfaction, that I am of a certain race, class, age, and gender.  Am I not, after all, white, middle, middle, and male?

Of course at the literal level I put no stock in any of this.  I’m pale this time of year, but every August my pelt is the same color as that of the “leader” my friends have chosen to conduct the latest wars in the wrack of the dune planet Arakkis.  I suppose for comparison purposes we would both need to unveil our torsos at the same time (mine rich in vitamin D, his in history).

“Middle,” for its part, does not seem to describe my most significant relationship to bankers and the world of men, since at eighty-two years of age I will be past any sort of middle when I will have finished paying off the mortgage that I and my wifeif she is my wifehave contracted in whatever fit of nesting exuberance governed our actions at the point of contract. 

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California Prisoners’ Strike a Win Against Solitary Confinement

Inmate Javier Zubiate, formerly a lieutenant of the gang Nuestra Familia, is a convicted killer who served time in the Secure Housing Unit at California's Pelican Bay State Prison. (Image: via Inmate Aid)

Inmate Javier Zubiate, formerly a lieutenant of the gang Nuestra Familia, is a convicted killer who served time in the Secure Housing Unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. (Image: via Inmate Aid)

Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan write at Common Dreams:

Thousands of prisoners will be moved out of solitary confinement in California, thanks to a landmark legal settlement announced this week. Grass-roots organizing can be tough, but when done by prisoners locked up in solitary confinement, some of them for decades, it is astounding. The settlement grew out of a federal class-action lawsuit alleging violations of the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.

They call themselves the Pelican Bay SHU Short Corridor Collective. This group of men has been subjected to long-term solitary confinement, some for more than 20 years, in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, located in the far northern corner of the state. From within their small, windowless cells, they began talking, organizing.

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A New Approach for Medical Cannabis

From the Indie Bohemians:

Randy Alexander has a very severe form of Cerebral palsy. Most people with Cerebral palsy as severe as his are usually unable to talk. Randy, however, can talk, and has done remarkable things with his life. He is now involved with Safe Access Tennessee, an organization dedicated to bringing Medical Cannabis to the state. Randy and Ron Placone discuss his life story, the benefits of Medical Cannabis, and the best ways of communicating those ideas especially to those that are more resistant.

Ron talks about how he is jealous of people that enjoy bright lights, Krish Mohan checks in with a FFON and Angie Dorin rocks a Monkey Minute.

If the player doesn’t work, go here.

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Mobile Phones May Increase Skin Cancer Risk

Anyone who’s seen the alarming documentary Mobilize knows that cell phones are associated with cancer risks – but skin cancer is a new one, per Reuters via Yahoo News, and it applies to all kinds of mobile devices including iPads and laptops:

Devices like tablets, smartphones and laptops can reflect ultraviolet light from the sun and may indirectly increase users’ exposure to the cancer-causing wavelengths, according to a new study.

Using mobile phones in Haiti after the earthquake

“These devices are generally used for communication or entertainment, so it can be easy to overlook their reflective properties unless you happen to catch the glare off a screen,” said Mary E. Logue of the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, who coauthored the research with Dr. Barrett J. Zlotoff.

They wondered whether, like those old-fashioned tanning reflectors, personal electronics could also pose skin health risks, Logue told Reuters Health by email.

In a small observational study conducted on a grassy field in Albuquerque, the researchers set up a mannequin head wearing a UVA/B light meter and faced it toward a standard musician’s sheet stand.

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Goofy Internet Rumor Alert: Halloween Falls on Friday the 13th This Year

The repository of all that is brain-numbing — Facebook — is rife with one of the weirdest and dumbest rumors I have heard in many a moon. Halloween will fall on Friday the 13th for the first time in, yes, you guessed it, 666 years because Spookiness. And it’s not the first time that this brainfart of a prank has made the social media rounds.

Trigger Warning: Migraine Inducing Stupidity

Trigger Warning: Migraine Inducing Stupidity

Snopes unspools this nonsense:

Although we’re ordinarily loath to trample the life out of simple jokes by dissecting the basis of their humor, the number of “Is this true?” inquiries we’ve received about this particular item compels us to address it.

For those who are pondering whether it’s really been 666 years since Halloween last fell on a Friday the 13th, we would point out that themid-autumnal celebration we know as Halloween does not date back nearly that far (i.e., to the year 1348 or earlier).

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Is the Age of Reason Dead?

In the wake of challenges to enlightenment values like ISIS and Charlie Hebdo, is the age of reason dead?
Enlightenment’s Wake

Many assume Enlightenment values will triumph over violence and prejudice. But in the wake of ISIS and Charlie Hebdo, victory seems less inevitable and the age of reason less secure. Might history not be on our side after all? Do we need more passion to combat zealotry’s allure or will reason alone win in the end?

The Panel

Philospher and theologian Christopher Hamilton, author of Contesting the Saudi State and visiting professor at LSE Madawi al-Rasheed, and editor of Spiked Online Brendan O’Neill push reason to the extreme.

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The Arab World’s Wealthiest Nations are Doing Next to Nothing for Syria’s Refugees

European countries are bowing to pressure to accept more refugees; why aren’t the mega-wealthy Arab nations like Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia? The Washington Post does a great job shaming them, but will they care?

The world has been transfixed in recent weeks by the unfolding refugee crisis in Europe, an influx of migrants unprecedented since World War II. Their plight was chillingly highlighted on Wednesday in the image of a drowned Syrian toddler, his lifeless body lying alone on a Turkish beach.

refugees

A fair amount of attention has fallen on the failure of many Western governments to adequately address the burden on Syria’s neighboring countries, which are struggling to host the brunt of the roughly 4 million Syrians forced out of the country by its civil war.

Some European countries have been criticized for offering sanctuary only to a small number of refugees, or for discriminating between Muslims and Christians.

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Satirical Illustrations of How World Leaders Perceive Justice

Gunduz Aghayev is a painter who creates satirical illustrations ranging from pop culture to religion and human rights around the globe.

This time he is taking on the concept of Justice seen through the filter of different nations revolving around the allegorical Roman goddess of justice, Justitia.

Let’s get to it, folks!

We're #1!!!

We’re #1!!!

Rule, Brittania

Rule, Brittania

Made in China? Enslaved in China.

Made in China? Enslaved in China.

And Iran, Iran so far away...

And Iran, Iran so far away…

Last, but certainly (under pain of death) not least.

Last, but certainly (under pain of death) not least.

You can see more of this series HERE. Be sure to check out some of his older series, Holy Selfie, Just Dictators and Global Police.

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Magnetic ‘wormhole’ connecting two regions of space created for the first time

Wormhole - Experimental Photograph

Autonomous University of Barcelona via ScienceDaily:

“Wormholes” are cosmic tunnels that can connect two distant regions of the universe, and have been popularized by the dissemination of theoretical physics and by works of science fiction like Stargate, Star Trek or, more recently, Interstellar. Using present-day technology it would be impossible to create a gravitational wormhole, as the field would have to be manipulated with huge amounts of gravitational energy, which no one yet knows how to generate. In electromagnetism, however, advances in metamaterials and invisibility have allowed researchers to put forward several designs to achieve this.

Scientists in the Department of Physics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona have designed and created in the laboratory the first experimental ‘wormhole’ that can connect two regions of space magnetically. This consists of a tunnel that transfers the magnetic field from one point to the other while keeping it undetectable — invisible — all the way.

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