Civil Rights, Human Rights Commemorated in Georgia
On October 16, the Georgia Historical Society and Georgia Department of Economic Development launched the Georgia Civil Rights Trail. It commemorates the civil rights movement in that state, by dedicating a historical marker recognizing the Atlanta Student Movement—a nonviolent campaign that began in 1960 when three students from Morehouse College rallied other students to “sit-ins” in downtown Atlanta. The movement led to the desegregation of restaurants, movie theaters, parks and other facilities.
The Georgia Civil Rights Trail project is cosponsored by the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, a museum in downtown Atlanta that highlights the achievements of both the civil rights movement in the United States and the broader human rights movement worldwide. Civil rights exhibits include a collection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s personal effects and interactive galleries that show examples of segregation and chronicle movement milestones. A permanent installation based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights includes an interactive display intended to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of human rights issues. The Story of Human Rights film produced by the nonprofit organization Youth for Human Rights International is also on display in the museum.
A Sea of Plastic, One Little Idea
It began as an idea for a school science project, sparked when the 16-year-old was diving in Greece. It has become a full-on crusade for Boyan Slat, now 20, of Delft, Netherlands. Slat is determined to clean up the millions of tons of plastic that have accumulated in the world’s oceans, concentrated in five areas of rotating currents, including what is known as the “Pacific Garbage Patch” between California and Hawaii. Slat’s idea? To harness the ocean currents and use an anchored network of floating platforms to collect the plastic, filter it and then store it for recycling. Slat’s ocean cleanup discussion on TedX went viral in March 2013, with thousands of people volunteering to help. By June 2014, Slat had produced a feasibility report authored by 70 scientists. By 2020, he hopes to make a platform in the North Atlantic a reality.
Peace Riders Ride On
The United in Peace movement, born in the streets of South Los Angeles in 2012, has grabbed the attention of law enforcement as well as concerned citizens and community groups. The grassroots group organizes peace rides and United in Peace Day Festivals, with the goal of reducing gang violence and bringing peace to the streets. Peace riders distribute copies of The Way to Happiness, a common-sense moral code, and the Million Man March pledge. Are they making a difference? According to the United in Peace website, statistics from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the LAPD show notable decreases in crime rates that coincide with the Peace Rides.
The Right to Education
Malala Yousafzai, 17, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October for education advocacy. Yousafzai’s blogs document the Taliban’s efforts to deny girls access to education in her hometown of Swat, Pakistan, which include literally the blowing up of schools. In October 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai in the head for speaking out, but she made a miraculous recovery and continues her good works. “It does not matter what’s the color of your skin, what language do you speak, what religion you believe in,” Yousafzai said in her acceptance speech. “It is that we should all consider each other as human beings and we should respect each other. And we should all fight for our rights, for the rights of children, for the rights of women, and for the rights of every human being.” The Nobel laureate was also recently awarded the World’s Children’s Prize.
On the Way to Tighter Rx Laws
Vanessa’s Law—a bill to amend the Canadian Food and Drugs Act to give Health Canada more sweeping powers to demand drug safety information from pharmaceutical companies, take dangerous drugs off the market, and improve reporting of serious adverse drug reactions—has passed the committee stage in the Canadian Senate. It is expected to receive Royal Assent, the final stage of legislation, in the next few months.
The number of Truth About Drugs booklets distributed during the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland and the Edinburg International Festival.
Calling for Calm but Braced for Chaos
With a grand jury decision predicted as soon as November 10, law enforcement in the racially divided town of Ferguson, Missouri, are preparing for another round of civil unrest surrounding the case of Officer Darren Wilson. Should a grand jury opt not to criminally indict Wilson for the August 8 fatal shooting of unarmed African-American teen Michael Brown—considered likely—officials fear an explosive reaction could engulf the St. Louis suburb in rioting. Brown’s death triggered massive, impassioned protests throughout the region in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and in the weeks and months that followed. Local members of the clergy have issued calls for calm no matter what the grand jury decides.
A case filed against backpage.com by three children victimized by child sex trafficking was heard by the Washington State Supreme Court on October 21. The case alleges that the backpage.com website (at the time owned by Village Voice Media) created an online marketplace where children were sold for sex. Backpage claimed it was immune and attempted to get the case dismissed. In September, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Washington Attorney General’s Office filed amicus briefs urging the court to allow the case to proceed. The justices have yet to rule on the case.
Ebola: Sound the Alarm—on Hysteria
In early October, the Ebola virus arrived stateside, sparking media hysteria: headlines screaming “Ebola in America!” countless radio specials, and incessant social media buzz. Should everybody panic? In a word, no.
MYTH: The Ebola virus is spreading in America and there is little we can do to stop it.
REALITY: As of this writing, there are just three confirmed Ebola cases in the United States. While it’s likely that other cases will crop up here, incidence of the disease in the U.S. is more of a fluke than an inevitability.
MYTH: Ebola can be transmitted through the air.
REALITY: There is no evidence that Ebola is airborne. Only those who have come into direct contact with infected human bodily fluids or secretions can catch the virus.
MYTH: Your chances of contracting and dying from Ebola are greater than contracting and dying from the flu.
REALITY: Not even close. The flu is airborne and everywhere, with influenza and pneumonia killing 53,826 Americans in 2010. As of this writing, Ebola had killed only one person in the United States in 2014.
MYTH: As soon as someone is exposed to Ebola, that person becomes a carrier and immediately contagious.
REALITY: Ebola symptoms don’t begin until at least 8 to 10 days after exposure. And a person is not contagious until he or she is symptomatic.
MYTH: The best thing you can do to avoid contracting the Ebola virus is to stop interacting with anyone exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
REALITY: The odds of someone who appears to have the flu but is actually exhibiting Ebola symptoms is so infinitesimally small it is not even measurable.