The U.S. got a human rights report card from the rest of the world. They think we can do better.

Every four years, each one of the 134 member countries in the United Nations gets a human rights review. The U.S. just had its turn.

At a hearing held May 11, 2015, 117 of the member nations spoke up. Each representative got only 65 seconds to speak, but it still added up to about three and a half hours of statements.

The United States did not get a glowing review.

Nations repeatedly called out the U.S. for police violence and especially systemic racial discrimination by the police. Many of them also identified the continued use of the death penalty as a human rights concern as well as the ongoing operations at Guantánamo Bay. (In its previous review in 2010, the U.S. committed to “find a solution for all persons detained at Guantánamo Bay" — yet as of January 2015, 122 men are still kept at the facility.)

The nation of Greenland is now the 21st country in the world to have legalized marriage equality! 

Greenland’s Parliament unanimously voted to pass marriage equality earlier this week, including adoption rights for same-sex couples. 

The autonomous nation, located within the Kingdom of Denmark, first adopted a civil union law in 1996, in accordance with Danish law at the time, reports Gay Star News. But Greenland decided to hold onto the civil union law, even as Denmark embraced marriage equality in 2012.

The addition of Greenland — with a population of fewer than 60,000 people spread across an ice-capped land mass more than three times the size of Texas — means there are now there are 21 countries in which same-sex couples can get legally marry.

Woohoo! Go Greenland! 

it’s hardly ‘new’ news, but more than one study has found that Fox viewers are not only less well informed about issues in the news that those of other channels, but also less well informed than those who don’t watch any news at all. Full credit to Fox for achieving the seemingly impossible .. (more)


Visual artist Nakeya Brown‘s series on the politics of black women’s hair has been getting much attention lately as the photos make their way from New York to Michigan to D.C. and beyond. 

Her first series, “Refutation of Good Hair,” was born out of a personal journey to let her own hair grow into its natural state of curls — void of any chemical processing to make it straight — at the same time she was becoming a mother. 

“It was an opportunity to reflect upon how I understood myself and of how my daughter would be understood and defined,” she said.


The Unclaimed Country of Bir Tawil,

An 800 square mile piece of land located between Egypt and Sudan, Bir Tawil is special in that it is one of the rare place on earth considered terra nullus, land owned by no one.  The Egyptian-Sudanese border was first created in 1898 when the British defined the border as being along the 22nd parallel.  However in 1920 a section of the border called Hala'ib Triangle was redrawn to accurately reflect land use by the tribes living in the area.  As a result of some discrepancies in the border agreements, the small section of Bir Tawil was left unclaimed by both Egypt or Sudan.  Today, the land still remains unclaimed, and neither Egypt or Sudan seem to be interested in resolving this oddity of geography.  The reason neither country seems to be interested in the region is simply because there is nothing there.  There are no people and no resources to develop, not even water.  It is a remote, harsh, and barren piece of land which is difficult to travel to with little more than rocks and sun scorched sand as a reward for making such a journey.  In essence, Bir Tawil lies unclaimed because it is worthless.

While no nations claim Bir Tawil, there are several unofficial claims to the land, almost all of which are by internet mircronations who use the opportunity to peddle novelty passports and citizenship papers.  Throughout history the only way to claim an new land was to travel to the area and plant your flag, thus asserting ownership over it.  None of these internet micronations have done so, so in reality their claims hold little weight.  Only one, an American named Jeremiah Heaton has done so, journeying to the region in 2014 and planting his flag for the “Kingdom of North Sudan”.  Interestingly, Heaton did this so that his seven year old daughter could be a real princess.  Unfortunately no nation, or the UN recognizes his claim.