Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - October 12 Edition

Disaster Assistance, California Fires

“California’s Wine Country is in a state of emergency as more than a dozen wildfires burn through large swaths of land in Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino, Lake, and Yuba counties. The fires have destroyed at least 1,500 structures, caused at least 10 fatalities, and forced an estimated 20,000 North Bay residents to evacuate, with that number expected to rise.

If you’re local, the Sonoma Valley Visitor’s Bureau has a list of hotels offering special rates for evacuees and the Sacramento Bee has a list of ways for local people to help.

If you’re far away from the fires and want to help, here are a few options:”

Child Marriage, Girls, India

"India's Supreme Court has struck down a legal clause that allowed men to engage in non-consensual marital sex with girls as young as 15.

Wednesday's landmark decision, which coincided with International Day of the Girl Child, also raised the age of consent for all women to 18.

"In our opinion sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years of age is rape regardless of whether she is married or not," read the ruling.

"The exception carved out in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) creates an unnecessary and artificial distinction between a married girl child and an unmarried girl child and has no rational nexus with any unclear objective sought to be achieved."

Jayna Kothari, who argued for Child Rights Group, an NGO that works to prevent child marriage, told CNN the ruling will create a "uniformity of laws"."

Innovators, Artists, Researchers, Inspiration

“It's not often you'll find these 24 names in the same place. They are historians and musicians, computer scientists and social activists, writers and architects. But whatever it may read on their business cards (if they've even got business cards), they now all have a single title in common: 2017 MacArthur Fellow.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced the winners of this year's fellowship — often better known as the "genius" grant — and the list includes a characteristically wide array of disciplines: There's painter Njideka Akunyili Crosby, for instance, and mathematician Emmanuel Cand├Ęs and immunologist Gabriel Victora, among many others.

(Note: The foundation is among NPR's financial supporters.)
Each of the recipients has been selected for having "shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction" — and each will receive a $625,000 award from the foundation "as an investment in their potential," paid out over five years with no strings attached.

You can find the full list of winners below (by clicking on the title above) — paired with the foundation's description of their work and, where possible, links to NPR's previous coverage to get to know them better.

Climate Change, Photography

“The UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015 was hailed as a historic landmark in the battle against climate change, but, says British environmental photographer Ashley Cooper, is it enough?

“I obviously applaud this momentous agreement,” he said, “but, having witnessed the scale of the destruction currently being wreaked around the world, this is too little too late.”

In his book, Images from a Warming Planet, Cooper hopes his photography will ‘wake people up’ to the reality of climate change as well as showcasing efforts to tackle the huge challenge. Photographs range from shots showing increasing rates of desertification, to images capturing the huge range of renewable energy projects across the globe.
The project began in 2004 with a trip to Alaska, which Cooper took after reading scientific journals and becoming increasingly aware of the potentially devastating consequences of climate change.

“I spent a week on Shishmaref, a tiny island in the Chukchi Sea,” he said. “It is home to a community of around 600 Inuit people, whose homes were being washed into the sea. It was here I first witnessed something I have seen many times since: that is, those least responsible for climate change are most impacted by it.

Exercise, Heart Health

From the America Heart Association:

“After a heart attack, more than 60 percent of patients decline participation in cardiac rehabilitation. Although the reasons include financial concerns and distance to a rehab center, many patients stay away because they perceive physical exercise as unpleasant, painful or impossible given their current physical condition.

This is the first study suggesting that Tai Chi may improve exercise behaviors in this high-risk population.

"We thought that Tai Chi might be a good option for these people because you can start very slowly and simply and, as their confidence increases, the pace and movements can be modified to increase intensity," said Elena Salmoirago-Blotcher, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and assistant professor of medicine at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University. "Tai Chi exercise can reach low-to-moderate intensity levels. The emphasis on breathing and relaxation can also help with stress reduction and psychological distress."”

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