Vox Sentences is your daily digest for what’s happening in the world. Sign up for the Vox Sentences newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox Monday through Friday, or view the Vox Sentences archive for past editions.
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
- 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]
- 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]
“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]
House Democrats just passed a slate of significant reforms to get money out of politics
Michael Jackson, R. Kelly, and the dangerous intimacy of fandom
Want less poverty in the world? Empower women.
A top Trump official may have just doomed US-North Korea talks
The history behind Captain Marvel’s super suit
What happens when a gothic lit expert moves into a haunted house
Welcome to Vox’s weekly book link roundup, a curated selection of the internet’s best writing on books and related subjects. Here’s the best the web has to offer for the week of May 19, 2019.
Another thing about that first workshop was that I heard something about myself that I had never heard before: that my story was protective and civilized and carefully managed. These to me seemed the primary virtues of fiction that I loved and that I wanted to write. There’s nothing I want more than peace and order. I had a difficult life. A strange life. And so in turning to fiction, I wanted to create for my characters a space where the urgent material of their lives would not contain the question of whether or not they would live or die. I wanted to write about people moving through the world who could count on more time, who didn’t have to confront the ugliness of violence and harm and malevolence. I wanted only to make for my characters a space where they could be. I left the workshop that night feeling like I had been struck by lightning. I was angry and ashamed.
Become a literary citizen of the world. Spend time in a foreign literary community by hatching an insane plot to launch a new Holy War against the infidels of Egypt, a plot so deeply deranged that when you finally manage to present your plan to Louis XIV, a king who enthusiastically led France into four major wars, he’s so appalled by the idea of a new crusade that he literally responds, “I have nothing to say.” Do all of this just to live in Paris for a bit.
“I don’t think the Times has ever seen this number of requests,” a veteran editor concurred, adding, “For department heads, it’s become almost impossible to manage.” The glut of big newsy projects that require essential beat reporters to take book leave is especially tricky. For one thing, there’s always concern among editors about balancing reporting that’s exclusive to books with reporting that can be published in the Times. More practically, as another Times journalist put it, “It’s kind of made the editors stand up and realize, holy shit, we have all these people writing books, and that’s an awful lot of man- and woman-power off the daily report in a pretty significant way.”
Books can be aesthetic signifiers, colorful set pieces of sorts, their spines telegraphing a certain gravitas — or a certain playfulness, depending on how they’re arranged. “I like to compare physical books to candles,” Mr. Blackwell said. “Light bulbs do the job, but there’s a strong aesthetic of a candle that puts soul into a room. Books do that, too. They create theater and drama.”
It is lined with red, marbled paper. On the inside cover, two skeletons hold a banner reading: “Statutum est hominibus semel mori,” or “All people are destined to die once.” It’s Hebrews 9:27, and it wouldn’t be nearly as ominous if it wasn’t next to 10 little drawers labeled with names of poisonous plants, and a mirrored shelf holding several little glass bottles.
The compartments bear the German names for hemlock, wolfsbane, foxglove, and more—all lethal, properly administered—and the suggestion seems to be that the little vials are there for a would-be poisoner to mix up their own deadly cocktails.
Stories give shape to experience, sometimes by accommodating traditional literary forms, sometimes by turning them upside down, sometimes by reorganizing them. Stories draw readers into their web, and engage them by putting them to work, body and soul, so that they can transform the black thread of writing into people, ideas, feelings, actions, cities, worlds, humanity, life. Storytelling, in other words, gives us the power to bring order to the chaos of the real under our own sign, and in this it isn’t very far from political power.
Of course, bookstores sell books, but these shops often serve other purposes as well. Leftist bookstores in particular commonly act as multipurpose spaces for local activists as well as stops for progressive and leftist authors’ book tours. In some smaller towns, these bookshops can be neighborhood or even city strongholds for locals who may not have many other places to safely and comfortably organize, or even just hang out. Bookshops that are not expressly political in their mission still frequently host authors whose work is political, and thus when these authors are targeted, often bookshops are as well.
This is the problem with white people, as Eddie Murphy assesses it in his 1983 standup comedy special Delirious: we stay in haunted houses, like idiots. We don’t heed the warnings; we don’t read the signs. In pursuit of the American dream of homeownership—the middle-class domestic ideal, the manicured lawn, the 30-year mortgage and its promise of equity and upward mobility—we colonize spaces, nominally vacant and hauntingly occupied, as if we belong there. As if it is our right.
Here’s a rundown of the past week in books at Vox:
As always, you can keep up with Vox’s book coverage by visiting vox.com/books. Happy reading!
Introducing the Exclusive ELLE Beauty Advent Calendar
Meet the brand new ELLE Beauty Advent Calendar. Wrapped up in an exclusive print from designer of the moment and ELLE friend Richard Quinn, and housing no less than 24 luxury beauty products worth £340, the ELLE Beauty Advent Calendar is the only Christmas present you need this year. Buy yours now: https://bit.ly/2Rhdg2b
View at DailyMotion
Whales dying from plastic bags: The alarming trend, explained
Another dead whale has washed ashore with a belly full of plastic.
This week, the carcass of the young sperm whale, estimated to have been 7 years old, was found on a beach in Cefalù, Italy. Investigators aren’t certain whether the plastic killed the whale. But it’s part of a gruesome pattern that’s become impossible to ignore.
In April, a pregnant sperm whale washed up on a beach in Sardinia with nearly 50 pounds’ worth of plastic bags, containers, and tubing in her stomach. Biologists in Florida last month euthanized a baby rough-toothed dolphin with two plastic bags and a shredded balloon in its stomach.
“The dolphin was very young and emaciated,” said Michelle Kerr, a spokesperson for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, in an email. “Due to a poor prognosis, the decision was made to humanely euthanize the animal on scene.”
In March, a 1,100-pound Cuvier’s beaked whale was recovered in the Philippines filled with 88 pounds of plastic bags, fishing line, and rice sacks. A beached sperm whale was found in Indonesia last year with more than 1,000 pieces of plastic inside.
As the quantity of plastic humans dump in the ocean has reached obscene proportions, we’re seeing more and more sea life — including birds, otters, sea turtles, and fish — choking on it.
But the impact on whales is particularly alarming. After centuries of whaling and overfishing, the survival of many whale species is already precarious. Now, just as their numbers are starting to recover, whales are consuming our toxic waste. And their deaths aren’t just about biodiversity loss: Whales play a critical role in marine ecosystems, which provide 3 billion people with their primary sources of protein.
To find out more about why whales are so vulnerable to plastic waste, I talked to Lars Bejder, director of the Marine Mammal Research Program at the University of Hawaii Manoa. He said there are multiple mechanisms at work here and that dying isn’t the only plastic hazard for whales, and explained why the problem will only get worse.
There’s a gargantuan amount of plastic in the ocean
The root cause of these stranded, plastic-filled whales is that plastic is cheap and easy to produce but almost impossible for nature to destroy. Chunks of plastic linger for decades, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. This waste then churns in the ocean in massive gyres.
Roughly 8 million metric tons of plastic — a mass greater than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza — enters the ocean each year.
Meanwhile, we’re still trying to figure out how much plastic waste has already accumulated in the ocean. A study published this week in the journal Scientific Reports estimated that 414 million bits of garbage weighing 238 tons have been deposited on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands 1,300 miles off the coast of Australia. It’s a sign that even the most remote regions of the world are now contaminated with the detritus of civilization.
“Sadly, the situation on the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is not unique, with significant quantities of debris documented on islands and coastal areas from the Arctic to the Antarctic,” researchers wrote. “[G]lobal debris surveys, the majority of which are focused solely on surface debris, have drastically underestimated the scale of debris accumulation.”
And the amount of plastic waste in the ocean is surging. Our current trajectory puts us on track to have more plastic in the ocean than fish by weight by 2050, according to the World Economic Forum.
So for the largest, hungriest animals in the ocean, plastic is becoming an unwelcome part of their diets.
Different whales face different risks from plastic
Whales are among the more intelligent creatures in the ocean, so why aren’t they smart enough to avoid eating plastic?
Well, one reason is that often plastic is in their food.
Small crustaceans like krill and tiny fish like anchovies often end up inadvertently consuming microplastics. Whales, the largest animals ever known to have existed, have a voracious appetite for these critters. A blue whale eats between 2 and 4 tons of krill per day.
Whales like the blue whale have baleen plates in their mouths that act as filters, trapping their small prey as well as small bits of plastic. This means they are less likely to ingest larger plastic waste items like bottles and containers, but the small plastic bits they consume quickly pile up.
“These baleen whales filter hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of water per day,” Bejder said. “You can imagine all these microplastics they encounter through this filtration process that then become bioaccumulated.”
Microplastics are unlikely to obstruct the digestive tract of a baleen whale, but as they build up inside an animal’s tissues, they can leach toxic chemicals like endocrine disruptors that make the creature sick. This problem can affect all ocean filter feeders, including manta rays and whale sharks.
That means there could be large whales dying of plastic poisoning without obvious culprits like flip-flops and food containers in their stomachs, according to Bejder.
A study published this week in Royal Society Open Science also reported that plastic pollution is more dangerous to baleen whales than oil spills. “Particle capture studies suggest potentially greater danger to [baleen whales] from plastic pollution than oil,” the authors wrote.
Toothed whales like sperm whales and dolphins normally catch bigger prey, like squid. But since they can swallow larger animals, they are vulnerable to larger chunks of plastic, like bags and nets.
“They might be seeking those out because they’re thinking they might be prey,” Bejder said. A plastic container in murky waters could resemble a fish to a toothed whale, or a sperm whale may inadvertently swallow plastic garbage as it hunts for a meal.
Once ingested, the plastic piles up in the whale’s stomach. It can then obstruct bowels, preventing whales from digesting food and leading them to starve to death. It can also give a whale a false sense of being full, leading the whale to eat less and get weaker. That leaves it vulnerable to predators and disease.
We’re only seeing a tiny fraction of the whales being harmed by plastic
Part of the reason we pay so much attention to whales killed by plastic is because the whales themselves are very big and the plastic culprits are startlingly obvious. Large animals decay slowly, giving people plenty of time to figure out the cause of death, whereas smaller fish and crustaceans dying from plastic decompose quickly and are rarely investigated. Even for casual observers, a dead whale blocking a beach vacation photo is pretty hard to ignore.
Still, we’re missing a big part of the picture.
“The ones that land on the beach that are killed through ingestion, they’re just the tip of the iceberg. They’re just the ones that we see,” Bejder said. “I’m sure that many, many marine mammals have some levels of plastic bags and plastic items in their stomachs.”
Many more whales could be dying from plastic poisoning without our knowledge. Around the Gulf of Mexico for example, 2 to 6 percent of whale carcasses end up on a shoreline. That means the vast majority sink to the ocean floor. This is likely the case for most of the world’s waters.
And the fact that whales are suffering shows that our marine ecosystems in general are in peril. “Whales, baleen whales, these larger dolphins species are pretty much at the top of the food chain,” Bejder said. “They are sentinels of ocean health for sure.”
But with more plastic waste pouring into the ocean, the prognosis for the most mega of megafauna is grim.
Viral News3 months ago
Marvel’s Avengers: Endgame hits theaters April 2019
Viral News5 months ago
Tony Robbins: HOW TO START OVER – 2019
Viral News4 weeks ago
This Is the Right Order to Watch the Marvel Movies to Get Ready for “Avengers: Endgame”
Viral News2 months ago
How to Answer Uncomfortable Questions So That People Don’t Ask Them Again
Viral News4 months ago
Top 5 Viral Plays of the Year // 2018
Viral News6 months ago
16 Game of Thrones Actors You Wouldn’t Recognize Without Makeup
Viral News1 month ago
What Hail Satan? director Penny Lane learned from her doc on Satanists
topNews1 month ago
Rights group condemns U.S. ‘vigilante’ treatment of migrants on border