Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - August 9 Edition

Feminism, Syria, War

"Even in the relative normality of life before the war, it was clear that women were suffering from discrimination. In November 2011 a UNFPA report (pdf) found that one in three women in Syria experienced domestic violence. Several Syrian laws clearly disadvantage women; the penalty for “honour” killing is softer than for other murders, and there is no legislation that specifically prohibits gender discrimination. The Syrian family code limits a woman’s financial rights within marriage if she works outside the home without her husband’s consent. The Syrian regime has at times been cynical about its engagement with women’s rights, presenting itself as a safe option compared to the rank misogyny of extremist groups. This has often been hollow, for instance, using women as spokespeople while keeping them out of roles of real influence, and failing to take any action on discriminatory laws. And Yazbek points out that in areas of Syria held by Isis and other religious factions, the situation for women has drastically worsened. “We were already fighting against patriarchy and dictatorship before the war. Now we have to fight not only that, but also religious extremism.”

Women Now runs seven centres – two in Lebanon and five within Syria. Starting as a small support group for a few families in rebel-held territory in Syria, it has expanded to become a major women’s network. In addition to providing psychosocial support, skills training (in English and IT among others), and economic empowerment, it has a clear political goal: getting women’s voices heard – from the family setting to international peace talks. “We try to educate women about their rights, and spread awareness,” says Ola El-Jindi, a programme manager at the NGO. “This is the chance the war gave us – to empower women. If we didn’t use it well, it would be another disaster of war. We must use this opportunity to do better things.”"

Elections, Voting

"Denver, Colorado, has spent the last eight years modernizing its elections, offering a model for how a city and county successfully maintains voter rolls.

The city began taking steps in 2009 to make it easier for voters to cast ballots, officials to count them, and administrators to maintain accurate, clean voter rolls. In the process, they’ve increased voter turnout and saved taxpayers money.

In the 2016 general election, turnout was at 72 percent — up six points from the city’s 2008’s turnout, and ten points higher than the national average in 2016, according to the city's data. The effort has driven election costs down, from $6.51 per voter to $4.15 per voter.

“In Denver, we’ve said, ‘What do we want our voter experience to be?’ and worked backwards from there," Amber McReynolds, director of the Denver Elections Division, told NBC News." 

Travel, Solo

“Listen in for tips on how to temper the awkwardness that sinks in around, say, 8 p.m., when locals and tourists alike are sitting down to loud, boozy dinners, while you’re staring into the abyss of the empty seat in front of you (hint: make best friends with the barman), and why maybe, just maybe, Airbnbs are the right call if you’ve planned a solo trip by choice.

One theme that we always return to, though, is the idea that travel—no matter the circumstance—should always test your comfort zone. Solo travel is the ultimate extension of that mantra, and though it may not always rock your world for the better, it can help you to grow just a little bit.”

Economy, Foreign Aid

“Zambia recently ran a bold experiment: Instead of giving poor people traditional aid — seeds, or a cow or job training — officials handed out cash, with no strings attached.

What was the outcome? Click on the title above and listen for the answer.

Exercise, Health

"To see just how little you can get away with when it comes to interval training for health purposes, the researchers brought in 25 less-than-in-shape young men (future studies will focus on women). They tested their levels of aerobic fitness and their ability to use insulin in the right way to control blood sugar, and biopsied their muscles to see how well they functioned on a cellular level.
Then they split them into a control group, a moderate-intensity-exercise group, and a sprint interval training (SIT) group.

The control group did nothing differently at all.

The moderate-intensity group did a typical I'm-at-the-gym routine of a two-minute warm-up, 45 minutes on the stationary bike, and a three-minute cool down, three times a week.

The SIT group did the shortest interval training ever recorded thus far by science. Participants warmed up for two minutes on a stationary bike, then sprinted full-out for 20 seconds, then rode for two minutes very slowly. They repeated this twice (for a total of three sets). The whole workout took 10 minutes, with only one minute being high-intensity.

All of the groups kept at it for 12 weeks, or about twice as long as most previous studies.

The results?"

No comments: