Fun Fact 458

According to the latest research by conservationists, 70% of the world’s remaining untouched wilderness can be found in just five countries, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Russia and the United States of America.  


Last winter, when Chung Soo-young saw a man rushing out of the women’s restroom at a chain coffee shop in downtown Seoul, the first thing she did was to scan all stalls in search of a hidden camera. Like many other South Korean women, Chung, 26, constantly worries that she could be secretly filmed in private moments. Her fear spiked, she says, when she saw the intruder and “realized I can actually be a victim.”

In South Korea, microcameras installed in public bathrooms for surreptitious filming are an everyday concern. Police data show that the number of “illegal filming” crimes sharply increased from 1,353 in 2011 to 6,470 in 2017.

The fear of digital peeping Toms has led women to stuff tiny balls of toilet paper into holes they find in public bathroom stalls or cover the holes with tape. Six months after her bathroom incident, Chung decided to act and put together her own “emergency kit” to thwart molka, or hidden cameras.

She started a crowdfunding project for the kit, and the response was greater than she had expected. More than 600 people bought the kit, which costs about $12 (14,000 Korean won) and includes a tube of silicone sealant to fill up holes, an ice pick to break tiny camera lenses and stickers to patch up holes.

Thinking of her kits as a “stopgap,” Chung also started building an archive of illicitly recorded videos and pictures she found online to demonstrate how serious the problem is. In September, during a search, she stumbled on a video of herself from that December day.

Once filmed, molka videos are quickly shared online. With the right search words in Korean, it is not difficult to find pictures and videos of women in bathrooms and changing rooms on file-sharing platforms and social networks such as Tumblr and Twitter. Thumbnails of such videos, tagged with an estimated age of the filmed women or the filming location, are posted with a messenger ID. Anyone can contact the seller, who is often the one who shot the film, and get gigabytes of voyeuristic videos for pennies.

South Korean Women Fight Back Against Spy Cams In Public Bathrooms

Photo credits in captions

Fun Fact 399

French and Japanese laws prohibit the media from publishing images of suspects in handcuffs as it implies guilt and undermines the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. Although not legally compelled, South Korean media companies similarly pixelate or blur handcuffs on suspects out of respect for the presumption of innocence. This is in contrast to the United States where the “perp walk” has historically been used to bolster public support for prosecutors.

How to fuck Bolsonaro and save the planet

“Unless you have already found a nice comfy cave up high in a mountain and stacked it up with canned food enough to last for decades, Jair Bolsonaro’s promised attacks on environment has to be stopped immediately!”

So it happened. Despite our crossed-fingers and before-bedtime prayers, world’s 5th largest country and 8th biggest economy is handed over to another misogynistic, homophobic, gun-loving arsehole. Jair Bolsonaro, rightfully nicked the Tropical Trump, won majority of the votes in the second round of the presidential elections in Brazil. It’s another dark day for us all.

Dear reader,

At this point, you might be saying “why the fuck should I care about Brazil’s new president”. You may not care about the women’s or LGBT rights in Brazil or let the relaxation of gun laws be Brazilians’ own problem (for all of which I might say, you`re completely wrong), but please know that on one important issue, Bolsonaro has promised to fuck not only Brazil, but the whole planet including your own pink arse: the environment.

With 450 million m3, Brazil is already the world`s 11th biggest CO2 emitter. On the plus side, Brazil is home to 3.3 km2 of Amazon rainforest, by far the biggest in the world. What Bolsonaro has been promising in his campaign was to go wild on the CO2 emissions, while wildly destroying the already threatened Amazons. Here’s a list of his campaign promises on environmental issues:

  • Withdrawal from the Paris agreement which has set targets for limitation of CO2 emissions to combat climate change
  • Shutting down the Ministry of Environment
  • Building a new motorway right through the Amazons
  • Opening up new areas on indigenous territories to mining
  • Relaxation of environmental law enforcement and licensing
  • Beefing up the alliance with the beef lobby which is already responsible for cutting down thousands of km2 of rainforest to open farmland.
  • Banning international environmental NGO’s like Greenpeace and WWF to operate in Brazil

In a time when scientists are already ringing the alarm bells at the highest level, actualization of even half of these campaign promises will be disastrous for all of us living on this planet. We can discuss for days the bad policies that has led Bolsonaro to power or write volumes on the rise of alt-right across the globe, but unless you have already found a nice comfy cave up high in a mountain and stacked it up with canned food enough to last for decades, Bolsonaro’s promised attacks on environment has to be stopped immediately, before they even start. Let’s discuss a few ways how.

We already know that, despite all the Jesus-praising, family-values-loving bullshit they talk non-stop about, guys like Bolsonaro care for and understand from one thing much more than anything else: Money

Brazilian economy is already very fragile, trying to recover from years of recession, making it the Achilles’ (or in this case, Bolsonaro’s) heel  If we can make this arsehole hear loud and clear that for any detrimental action he takes on the environment, we will strike back with our combined economic force, we can push him back to the hole he sneaked his miserable head out of. Below, I tried to list a few things you can easily do without losing your comfort too much. 

Don’t Go

Brazil receives more than 6.6 million international tourists each year, leaving a revenue of more than 7 billion dollars. So, unless you’re planning to go and stand in front of the bulldozers chopping down the rainforests, postpone that tropical visit to another time.  Or if you really want to see the rainforests and white sandy beaches that bad, try Costa Rica perhaps, where they are very close to becoming the first carbon neutral country in the world (and don’t forget to find ways to off-set your carbon footprint from that long intercontinental flight :)).

Eat Less Meat

I’m not saying go full-on vegan -not that it hurts- but eating less meat may be the most efficient way to hit back at Bolsonaro. Brazil’s biggest exports by far are animal agriculture related items (beef and poultry meat, soybeans and corn used as animal feed, etc.). By reducing the demand for Brazilian beef, chicken and soybeans, you will not only throw a punch at the Brazilian economy, but also take away the reasons for opening up more farmland in the Amazons.

Now, you might argue that you only eat local meat, not any of that Brazilian stuff, so this does not apply to you. Here’s a few counter arguments then: For starters, in many cases, cattle are transported live (in horrendous conditions, often from Brazil) and slaughtered locally, making its `country of origin` the land where the slaughterhouse is and not where the animals were raised. So, you often don’t really know whether that entrecôte you bought from the supermarket actually comes from Farmer Joe’s ranch or the Amazons.

Secondly, it is very likely that your country raises not enough chicken or cattle to meet the local demand, therefore even if you’re eating local meat, you are pushing others to eat imported stuff. By reducing the demand, you will force your local animal farmers be more competitive against Brazilian exporters. We all know that no politician wants to stand up against farmers, so goes up the tariffs against Brazilian beef and chicken.

And even if that is not the case and there is no Brazilian beef or chicken sold where you live, those animals were probably still fed on soybeans grown in Brazil. Soybeans alone account for more than 19 billion dollars (yes, billion with a ‘B’) of Brazilian exports. So, by just eating less meat, not only will you drop those cholesterol levels you’ve been worrying about, but also fuck Bolsonaro with a healthy smile :).

Use Less Fuel

Funny hey, what seems to be already good for the environment is bad for Bolsonaro. 5% of Brazil’s exports income comes from crude oil. Simply by cleaning up your old bike and pedalling to work, you  will both reduce your own carbon footprint and also help drop the global demand on oil. Lower demand means lower prices, which in return results in a stick up Bolsonaro’s arse (plus the Saudis’, double good :)).

Consume Less Sugar

Equally funny, what seems to be already good for your health is also bad for Bolsonaro. Raw sugar accounts for 5.7% of Brazil’s exports. Cutting down on those pop drinks as well as pedalling to work will do wonders on that belly of yours. Another fine strike at Bolsonaro (with an added bonus hit at Coca-Cola :)).

For any arguments about consuming locally produced sugar, see the counter arguments for meat. The same principals apply and those love handles have got to go :).

Quit Smoking

Did you know that Brazil is a major tobacco exporter? I won’t even bother to elaborate further :).

Drink Less umhh… Coffee

Okay, this one hurts me the most. I am not going to preach anything I cannot follow myself, but you can check out the country of origin mark on this one. Unlike meat and sugar, the `Product of Brazil` mark has an added economic value when it comes to coffee. Yes, you get good coffee from Brazil, but not all good coffee comes from Brazil. So, next time you reach for the black stuff, make sure they originate from a better place (and is fair-trade). Costa Rica? Hey, you can even start an online petition to Starbucks on this one.

The same principal applies to pretty much everything. Whatever you’re looking to buy, make sure it is not `Made in Brazil`. That private jet you want to buy so much for example, don’t buy it from Embraer - bikes are way cooler anyway :).

Contact the NGO’s

Call your local Greenpeace and WWF office -since they have been promised to be silenced by Bolsonaro- and ask what their plans are (and if they can’t answer back, ask why the fuck they cannot). Try to get involved in their efforts to combat the evil. This is a global problem that will require global cooperation. Be part of it.

Contact Your Politicians

If you, by any chance, live in a country where the politicians give a rat’s arse to what the voters think, contact them and explain your concerns. Ask them to take measures against the guy who promises to destroy the future of your kids. And if they don’t listen, vote them out in the next elections and bring in those who will.

Inform Others

There is a good chance that your media have not given the deserved attention to what is happening in Brazil and you have heard of it only by pure luck. For every person who is informed about the issue, there are hundreds of thousands who is not. Use every social and antisocial media you can find to tell them about the great danger and urge them to take action. We cannot solve this problem on our own. Group up and combat together.

Reach Out

Bolsonaro is Brazilian, but not all Brazilians are Bolsonaro – just like not all Americans are Trump, not all French are Le Pen, not all Dutch are Wilders. Half of the country voted against the bastard. And out of 210 million Brazilians in the world, there’s a chance that you might have befriended one or two. If so, reach out to them. Local knowledge is golden - ask how you can help them further to stop the devil reincarnate. Make them feel your support at these troubling times in their country because you will need their support when the same shit happens in yours.

So, shall we samba?

NASA’s Satellite Data Help Save Lives

For the first time, measurements from our Earth-observing satellites are being used to help combat a potential outbreak of life-threatening cholera. Humanitarian teams in Yemen are targeting areas identified by a NASA-supported project that precisely forecasts high-risk regions based on environmental conditions observed from space.

Cholera is caused by consuming food or water contaminated with a bacterium called Vibrio cholerae.

The disease affects millions of people every year and can be deadly. It remains a major threat to global health, especially in developing countries, such as Yemen, where access to clean water is limited.

To calculate the likelihood of an outbreak, scientists run a computer model that takes satellite observations of things like rain and temperatures and combines them with information on local sanitation and clean water infrastructure. In 2017, the model achieved 92 percent accuracy in predicting the regions where cholera was most likely to occur and spread in Yemen. An outbreak that year in Yemen was the world’s worst, with more than 1.1 million suspected cases and more than 2,300 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

International humanitarian organizations took notice. In January 2018, Fergus McBean, a humanitarian adviser with the U.K.’s Department for International Development, read about the NASA-funded team’s 2017 results and contacted them with an ambitious challenge: to create and implement a cholera forecasting system for Yemen, in only four months.

“It was a race against the start of rainy season,” McBean said.

The U.S. researchers began working with U.K. Aid, the U.K. Met Office, and UNICEF on the innovative approach to use the model to inform cholera risk reduction in Yemen.

In March, one month ahead of the rainy season, the U.K. international development office began using the model’s forecasts. Early results show the science team’s model predictions, coupled with Met Office weather forecasts, are helping UNICEF and other aid groups target their response to where support is needed most.

Photo Credit: UNICEF

“By joining up international expertise with those working on the ground, we have for the very first time used these sophisticated predictions to help save lives and prevent needless suffering,” said Charlotte Watts, chief scientist for United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.

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U.S. bans diplomatic visas for foreign same-sex domestic partners
Foreign diplomats and employees of the United Nations, World Bank, NATO and other international organizations must be married for their partners to get a visa.

The United States has announced that it will now be much harder for LGBTQ diplomats to get visas for their same-sex partners.  

Beginning this week, diplomats and workers for international organizations will only be able to get visa benefits for their partners if they are married. The problem is that marriage equality isn’t legal in a lot of UN countries – marriage equality is allowed in only 12% of member states, actually – and getting married at home for visa benefits could put a lot of people at risk.

Alfonso Nam, the president of U.N. Globe, a gay rights advocacy organization for United Nations employees, said the policy would raise concerns among future United Nations employees, particularly those from countries hostile to gay, lesbian and transgender people.

“For same-sex couples serving the U.N., the U.S. is usually a desired destination for work,” Mr. Nam said. “It’s a place where you are able to bring your legal partner and get a visa.”

“Whether that will continue to remain the same is to be seen,” he added.

This is the danger of thinking too narrowly about LGBTQ rights in the world (and of having Trump for a president, but you knew that already). This will affect at least 100 families right off the bat and could affect the way these folks pursue their careers and their lives in the future. Bad, bad call. 

Fun Fact 391

Chinese parents often time pregnancies according to the Chinese Zodiac calendar which has one of 12 different zodiac animals for every year. As the supposed traits of some zodiac signs are considered more favourable, parents will often wait until the right year comes along to get pregnant. This trend is reflected in changes in the fertility rate depending on the calendar year with the fertility rate falling dramatically in countries such as Taiwan during the year of the Tiger (which is seen as unfavourable) only to reach its highest point in a decade, two years later during the year of the dragon.