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Vox Sentences: Women’s soccer on offense

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Violence is hurting Ebola response efforts; the US women’s national soccer team files a gender discrimination lawsuit.


At the front lines of the Ebola fight


Alexis Huguet/AFPGetty Images

  • The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is second-largest yet, with nearly 600 reported deaths. The DRC’s northeastern regions are also currently conflict zones, and threats of violence have endangered response efforts. However, upping security for health responders has stirred fear and distrust. [NYT / Denise Grady]
  • Ebola treatment units have been attacked in Butembo, a dense area in the DRC where isolation of the disease is extremely important to treat the epidemic. Organizations like Doctors Without Borders have struggled to work with communities to reduce fear and feelings of helplessness, especially when a family member is isolated, people are forced into treatments, or vaccines are delivered en masse. [New England Journal of Medicine / Vinh-Kim Nguyen]
  • Violence against responders is also political. The DRC government prevented millions of people from infected regions from voting in the national election last year, prompting protesters to rob and burn an Ebola treatment facility in Beni. Security concerns have detracted from the treatment efforts, too. Forty percent of the dead have been found in their homes, not in isolation, according to the World Health Organization, heightening focus on concentrating the virus. [Nature / Amy Maxmen]
  • The most recent cases of violence happened last week: Two treatment centers were torched in Butembo and Katawa in the North Kivu province. The attack led Doctors Without Borders to suspend their resources in the area, even as diagnoses of the virus climb. Spokespeople for the country’s health ministry have said the containment and treatment efforts are “quite positive.” [Al Jazeera]
  • Zika, dengue, and yellow fever are also concerning health officials. Climate change and urbanization have led to spikes in mosquito populations that will carry these diseases throughout the US and Europe. [Vox / Kelsey Piper]

A key play on International Women’s Day

  • All 28 members of the US women’s national soccer team filed a lawsuit in the US District Court of Los Angeles against the United States Soccer Federation on Friday, citing gender discrimination. The suit represents current and former players on points that include players’ paychecks, quality of coaching, training, and team travel. [NYT / Andrew Das]
  • The suit is timely. The US team is headed to the Women’s World Cup in just three months — but the players aren’t threatening a boycott. They are asking for equitable pay and damages including back pay, citing that they’ve earned more championships and gained a larger following than the US men’s team. [WSJ / Rachel Bachman]
  • The suit, filed under the Equal Pay Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, is seeking class-action status. Players for the team since February 2015 are permitted to join the case. The mission behind this suit has been in the works since 2016, when five players registered a similar complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. [ESPN]
  • The US women’s team has won three World Cups, while the US men’s team failed to even qualify for the last World Cup. Yet the male players were reportedly paid about $262,320, while women apparently make an average sum of $99,000. [Washington Post / Will Hobson]
  • ”Every single day we sacrifice just as much as the men. We work just as much,” said player Alex Morgan. “We endure just as much physically and emotionally. Our fans really do appreciate us every day for that. We saw that with the high of [winning the World Cup in 2015]. We’re really asking, and demanding now, that our federation, and our employer really, step up and appreciate us as well.” [Bleacher Report / Tim Daniels]

Miscellaneous

  • Chelsea Manning was taken into federal custody on Friday after she refused to testify before a federal grand jury. Manning is a former US Army intelligence analyst who provided WikiLeaks with classified information in 2010. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013. [ABC News / Ali Dukakis]
  • March is Women’s History Month. Politico asked notable women, including 2020 Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, about the biggest issues facing women today. [Politico Magazine]
  • The February 2019 jobs report shows employers added 20,000 new jobs — the lowest number since September 2017. At the same time, the underemployment rate is the lowest since 2001, at 7.3 percent. [Bloomberg / Katia Dmitrieva and Carlyann Edwards]
  • A power outage beginning at rush hour swept across Venezuela on Thursday. President Nicolás Maduro blamed the United States for starting an “electricity war,” following President Trump’s support of interim President Juan Guaidó. The power loss follows a humanitarian failure after Maduro’s forces blocked aid deliveries at the border. Energy is nationalized in Venezuela, leaving citizens vulnerable to government control of vital resources. [NPR / Sasha Ingber]
  • Ireland on Friday became the 34th nation to ratify the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence, a.k.a. the Istanbul Convention. It took three years since signing the convention for Ireland to ratify the agreement, which addresses inequality, discrimination, and approaches for reducing gender-based violence. Some members of the Council of Europe, including the UK, have yet to ratify the convention. [Irish Times / Kitty Holland]

Verbatim

“CBP does not target journalists for inspection based on their occupation or their reporting. CBP has policies in place that prohibit discrimination against arriving travelers and has specific provisions regarding encounters with journalists.” [Customs and Border Protection spokesperson Andrew Meehan in response to reports that the agency was tracking journalists and activists who focus on immigration]


Watch this: How bicycles boosted the women’s rights movement

Susan B. Anthony said the bicycle did “more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.” [YouTube / Dean Peterson]


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20 People Share Secrets From Their Jobs and Now We Can’t Sleep Well

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Almost every job has its own secrets and nuances that very few people know. The people of different professions shared secrets from their jobs on Reddit and on Twitter and some of their stories may seriously change the way you see the world.

We at Bright Side, of course, don’t have any secrets like these, but as it turns out, not all other professions are as transparent as they seem to be.

  • Truck driver: 9 out of 10 truck drivers travel with a smartphone on their windshield watching a TV-series. Stay away from big trucks.
  • Disney World employee: There are secret tunnels underneath both Epcot and the Magic Kingdom (and probably other parks too) that enable the cast members to travel across the park pretty quickly and easily.

Comment from a park-goer: My father suffered a heart attack while visiting Epcot. I have never witnessed a faster medical response with professionals appearing from seemingly nowhere with just as fast transport through underground tunnels. It was a lifesaver. He was transported to a Disney hospital where he received great care after an emergency surgery and our stay was extended by 3 weeks.

  • IT support people: (help desks, computer repair shops, Geek Squad, etc.) are mostly just better at Googling than you are.
  • Employee at a flour factory: Wheat flour is not actually white. We use chlorine to make it look more attractive. This also increases the gluten level in flour, and this is why people are more gluten-sensitive today.
  • Rescue team member: When you are a young lifeguard, you always have a radio with you 24/7. And you always listen to what happens in the city. If you are going, for example, to a birthday party in your own car and then you hear there is a fire on a nearby street, you turn the car and drive there! (I have my own gear in the car). @Moscow_Spasatel
  • Olive oil factory employee: We had only one kind of oil but we put it in 27 different containers and sold it at different prices. Some of them were labeled as imported, some were called the highest quality oil. But it was the same oil in every single bottle.
  • IT-service engineer: When someone is fixing your computer, they also often look through the data on your hard drive searching for something funny or embarrassing. So, before you give your computer to an IT service, clear your browser history, and copy all the important data to an external drive.
  • Candle factory: Paraffin candles are dangerous and poisonous. Because I know what we added in there (even to the candles that say “100% paraffin”), I will never ever use candles again. If you need to use them for some reason, buy candles made of bee’s wax without any scents.
  • Sommelier: Wine isn’t vegan. It’s not even vegetarian in some cases. The filtering (refining) process uses egg whites, and sometimes isinglass (fish parts).

  • Movie theater: A large bag of popcorn that costs the customer $5.99 (at the time) cost the movie theatre 6 cents to produce, including the butter, the kernels, the bag, the power used by the popper and the time it took the concession employee to fill up the bag and give it to the customer.
  • Internet services: Most “subscription services” will raise their prices over time because they expect you to just live with it. This applies to phone bills, cable packages, internet service, insurance plans… Call up, politely complain about the price. Skip the canned “well the price has gone up because inflation/rising costs/age/end of promotion” and continue to politely say it’s too much, your budget can’t handle all your outgoings and you may need to drop the service. Either you are speaking to someone who can reduce the price, or they can put you through to a person authorized to reduce the price.
  • Mechanic: If you want to go on vacation and you don’t know where to leave your car, get it to a mechanic. Many people do this. It’s ridiculously cheap and you can be away for a month! It is much more expensive to use parking lots. @Neformatws
  • Pharmacist: I’ve worked at several factories that manufacture medications. And the rules were the same everywhere: if you dropped pills on the floor, just put them back into the bottle. So, maybe your medications are not as clean as you think.
  • Librarian: The amount of toilet paper, random items, and bills used as bookmarks that are left in returned library books is unbelievable!
  • Doctor: We spend so much time to be good at what we do, that we know almost nothing about other things.

Is there something about your job that is kept secret?

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The spring equinox is Wednesday, March 20: 7 things to know about the first day of spring.

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The vernal equinox is upon us: On Wednesday, March 20, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres will experience an equal amount of daylight. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it marks the beginning of spring, with daylight hours continuing to lengthen until the summer solstice in June. For those south of the equator, it’s the beginning of autumn.

Technically speaking, the equinox occurs when the sun is directly in line with the equator. This will happen at 5:58 pm Eastern time on Wednesday. (A few hours later, at 9:43 pm, you can look out for the “supermoon”, the last one until 2020.)

Below is a short scientific guide to the most equal night of the year.

1) Why do we have an equinox?

The equinox, the seasons, and the changing length of daylight hours throughout the year are all due to one fact: The Earth spins on a tilted axis.

The tilt — possibly caused by a massive object hitting Earth billions of years ago — means that for half the year, the North Pole is pointed toward the sun (as in the picture below). For the other half of the year, the South Pole gets more light. It’s what gives us seasons.


NASA

Here’s a time-lapse demonstration of the phenomenon shot over the course of a whole year from space. In the video, you can see how the line separating day from night swings back and forth from the poles during the year.



NASA/Meteosat/Robert Simmon

And here’s yet another cool way to visualize the seasons. In 2013, a resident of Alberta, Canada, took this pinhole camera photograph of the sun’s path throughout the year and shared it with the astronomy website EarthSky. You can see the dramatic change in the arc of the sun from December to June.

This is a 6 month pinhole photo taken from solstice to solstice, in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada. We are one of the sunniest cities in Canada, and this shows it nicely.

Posted by Ian Hennes on Saturday, December 21, 2013

(You can easily make a similar image at home. All you need is a can, photo paper, some tape, and a pin. Instructions here.)

2) How many hours of daylight will I get Wednesday?

Equinox literally means “equal night.” And during the equinox, most places on Earth will see approximately 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of night.

But not every place will experience the exact same amount of daylight. For instance, on Wednesday, Fairbanks, Alaska, will see 12 hours and 15 minutes of daylight. Key West, Florida, will see 12 hours and six minutes. The differences are due to how the sunlight gets refracted (bent) as it enters Earth’s atmosphere at different latitudes.

That daylight is longer than 12 hours on the equinox is also due to how we commonly measure the length of a day: from the first hint of the sun peeking over the horizon in the morning to the very last glimpse of it before it falls below the horizon in the evening. Because the sun takes some time to rise and set, it adds some extra daylight minutes.

Check out TimeAndDate.com to see how many hours of sunlight you’ll get during the equinox.

3) Over the course of the entire year, does every spot on Earth get an equal number of daylight hours?

In the summer months, the northernmost latitudes get a lot of daylight. Above the Arctic Circle, during the summer, there’s 24 hours of daylight. In the winter, the Arctic Circle is plunged into constant darkness.

So does this mean the number of daylight hours — in total, over the course of the year — equal out to places where the seasonal difference is less extreme?

The answer to this question is somewhat surprising: Roughly speaking, everywhere on Earth sees a similar number of daylight hours every year. But the equator actually gets slightly fewer daylight hours than the poles.

As astronomer Tony Flanders explained for Sky & Telescope magazine, sunlight at the poles gets refracted more than sunlight at the equator. That refracting results in the visible disc of the sun being slightly stretched out (think of when the full moon is near the horizon and looks huge — it’s being refracted too). And the refracted, stretched-out sun takes slightly longer to rise and set. Flanders estimated that the equator spends around 50.5 percent of its year in sunlight, while the poles spend between 51.5 and 53 percent of their years in sunlight.

And, of course, this is how much sunlight these areas could potentially receive if the weather were always perfectly clear; it’s not how much sunlight they actually see, nor the strength of the sunlight that hits their ground. “Where are the places on Earth that receive the largest amount of solar radiation?” is a slightly different question, the answer to which can be seen on the chart below.



US Energy Information Administration

4) Can I really only balance an egg on its tip during on the equinox?

Perhaps you were told as a child that on the equinox, it’s easier to balance an egg vertically on a flat surface than on other days of the year.

The practice originated in China as a tradition on the first day of spring in the Chinese lunar calendar in early February. According to the South China Morning Post, “The theory goes that at this time of year the moon and earth are in exactly the right alignment, the celestial bodies generating the perfect balance of forces needed to make it possible.”

This is a myth. The amount of sunlight we get during the day has no power over the gravitational pull of the Earth or our abilities to balance things upon it. You can balance an egg on its end any day of the year (if you’re good at balancing things).


This man is very good at balancing eggs.
AFP/Getty Images

5) Is there an ancient monument that does something cool during the equinox?

During the winter and summer solstices, crowds flock to Stonehenge in the United Kingdom. During the solstices, the sun either rises or sets in line with the layout of the 5,000-year-old-monument. And while some visit Stonehenge for the spring equinox too, the real place to be is in Mexico.

That’s because on the equinox, the pyramid at Chichen Itza on the Yucatan Peninsula puts on a wondrous show. Built by the Mayans around 1,000 years ago, the pyramid is designed to cast a shadow on the equinox outlining the body of Kukulkan, a feathered snake god. A serpent-head statue is located at the bottom of the pyramid, and as the sun sets on the day of the equinox, the sunlight and shadow show the body of the serpent joining with the head.

This is easier to see in a video. Check it out below.

6) Are there equinoxes on other planets?

Yes! All the planets in the solar system rotate on a tilted axis and therefore have seasons. Some of these tilts are minor (like Mercury, which is tilted at 2.11 degrees). But others are more like the Earth (tilted at 23.5 degrees) or are even more extreme (Uranus is tilted 98 degrees!).

Below, see a beautiful composite image of Saturn on its equinox captured by the Cassini spacecraft (RIP) in 2009. The gas giant is tilted 27 degrees relative to the sun, and equinoxes on the planet are less frequent than on Earth. Saturn only sees an equinox about once every 15 years (because it takes Saturn 29 years to complete one orbit around the sun).


Cassini Imaging Team/NASA

During Saturn’s equinox, its rings become unusually dark. That’s because these rings are only around 30 feet thick. And when light hits them head on, there’s not much surface area to reflect.

7) I clicked this article accidentally and really just want a mind-blowing picture of the sun


The sun blew out a coronal mass ejection along with part of a solar filament over a three-hour period (February 24, 2015). Some of the strands fell back into the sun.
Solar Dynamics Observatory/NASA

The image above was taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, a spacecraft launched in 2010 to better understand the sun.

This past summer, NASA launched the Parker Solar Probe, a spacecraft that will come within 4 million miles of the surface of the sun (much closer than any spacecraft has been before). The goal is to study the sun’s atmosphere, weather, and magnetism and figure out the mystery of why the sun’s corona (its atmosphere) is much hotter than its surface. Still, even several million miles away, the probe will have to withstand temperatures of 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

It’s essential to understand the sun: It’s nothing to mess with. Brad Plumer wrote for Vox about what happens when the sun erupts and sends space weather our way to wreak havoc on Earth.

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