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Poland is Empowering Women with Free, Nationwide Self Defense Classes

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Poland’s Defense Ministry is opening free self-defense classes across the nation for women in order to cultivate their self-defense skills. Classes based in Aikido and Jiujitsu will teach women how to defend themselves against strangulation, and even a weapons assault.

The free trainings will be offered through June at 30 military bases across Poland starting November 19, 2016. Anyone woman who is in good health and above the age of 18 can attend.

Though Poland’s officials have been accused of using the free classes as a method of political persuasion and propaganda, Poland’s defense minister Antoni Macierewicz, claims the goal is to teach women “basic fighting techniques” and improve their overall physical fitness, adding that women will learn, “how to react in a dangerous situation.”

By gender, 45% of women in the world say that they do not feel safe walking alone at night, and that ‘street-harassment’ is a common occurrence for them.

How does Poland compare to other countries where women might feel threatened, too?

Poland: Hollaback! Poland conducted an informal online survey of 818 people (mostly women) in 2012. They found that 85% of female respondents had experienced street harassment in public spaces in Poland, as had 44% of men.

Afghanistan: The Women and Children Legal Research Foundation conducted research in October 2015 with 364 women and girls about sexual harassment in public spaces, workplaces, and educational institutions in seven provinces of Afghanistan. 93% said they were harassed in public spaces, 87% said workplaces, and 89% said educational institutions. Additionally, 90% had observed sexual harassment in public places, 79% in educational settings, and 72% in workplaces.

Australia: Research by The Australia Institute in 2015 of 1426 females found that 87% were verbally or physically attacked while walking down the street. 40% of women feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods at night. In addition to verbal harassment, physical street harassment was also a relatively commonplace occurrence, with 65% of women experiencing physically threatening harassment.

Bangladesh: The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics and United Nations Population Fund surveyed 12,600 women across the country in 2014 and most said they regularly face sexual harassment in their daily lives. About 43% said public spaces were the spot where they experienced it the most.

Brazil: Think Olga commissioned a survey conducted by journalist Karin Hueck as part of their anti-street harassment campaign Fiu Fiu Enough. There were 7,762 participants for the opt-in survey and 99.6 % of them said they had been harassed.

Canada: Using a national sample of 12,300 Canadian women ages 18 and older from 1994, sociology professors Ross Macmillan, Annette Nierobisz, and Sandy Welsh studied the impact of street harassment on women’s perceived sense of safety in 2000. During their research, they found that over 80 percent of the women surveyed had experienced male stranger harassment in public and that those experiences had a large and detrimental impact on their perceived safety in public.

Beijing, China: A 2002 survey of 200 citizens in Beijing, China, showed that 70 percent had been subjected to a form of sexual harassment. Most people said it occurred on public transportation, including 58 percent who said it occurred on the bus.

Croatia: Hollaback! Croatia informally surveyed 500 people (mostly women) online about street harassment in 2012. They found that 99 percent of women experienced some form of street harassment in their lifetime, and 50 percent experienced it by age 18.

Ecuador: A UN scoping study in 2011 found that 68% of women experienced some form of sexual harassment and sexual violence in public spaces during the previous year.

Egypt: The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women published a report in 2013 showing that 99.3% of Egyptian women have experienced some form of sexual harassment. The study indicates that “96.5% of women in their survey said that sexual harassment came in the form of touching, which was the most common manifestation of sexual harassment. Verbal sexual harassment had the second-highest rate experienced by women with 95.5% of women reporting cases.”

Mumbai, India: We the People Foundation’s 2012 study found that 80% of women in Mumbai had been street harassed, primarily in crowded areas like trains and railway platforms.

United Kingdom: End Violence Against Women Coalition commissioned YouGov to conduct the first national poll on street harassment in 2016. 64% of women of all ages have experienced unwanted sexual harassment in public places. Additionally, 35% of women had experienced unwanted sexual touching. 85% of women ages 18-24 had faced sexual harassment in public spaces and 45% had experienced unwanted sexual touching.

USA: Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates conducted a nationally representative telephone survey of 612 adult women between June 17 and June 19, 2000. From this survey, they found that almost all women had experienced street harassment: 87 percent of American women between the ages of 18-64 had been harassed by a male stranger; and over one half of them experienced “extreme” harassment including being touched, grabbed, rubbed, brushed or followed by a strange man on the street or other public place. Shattering the myth that street harassment is an urban problem, the survey found that women in all areas experienced it: 90 percent in rural areas, 88 percent in suburban areas, and 87 percent in urban areas. Sadly, 84 percent of women “consider changing their behavior to avoid street harassment.”

It looks like Poland’s idea to empower women against unwanted attention isn’t such a bad idea for many countries.

Featured image: Polish Defence Ministry

Animals

Police Rescue Dogs Trapped In Car on Sizzling Hot Day, Owners Complain About Broken Window

Elias Marat

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Police in the UK acted quickly to save a two dogs locked inside a car in sizzling hot temperatures by smashing open a window, upsetting the car’s owner over the damage.

Officers responded Sunday to reports that a beagle and another dog were trapped in a car parked in the seaside British city of Brighton on a day of boiling heat.

In video captured of the incident, an officer can be seen jamming his baton through a rear window before finally shattering it to free the pooches.

This prompts the car alarm to go off as the car’s owners can be seen rushing toward it, upset over the police intervention.

A woman, standing with her shocked family, says: “You broke my window out!”

One of the officer responded: “It’s a hot day. You shouldn’t be leaving the dog in the car in this weather.”

The incident happened on a day when people across the region flock to the seaside resort city to dip into the beaches amid surging hot temperatures.

The onlooker who filmed the incident noted that the owners seemed unaware of the dangers posed to their pets by weather conditions.

“Where they had parked there is just no shade,” they told The Sun. “It’s directly on the seafront in 25°C (77°F) weather outside – I’ve got no idea what it was inside the car.”

The family was indignant over what they claim was an overreaction by the police.

“At first it was ‘what the f*** are you doing, why did you break my car window? I was only gone for 10 minutes,’” another witness explained.

“The bloke obviously thought he was completely in the right,” they added. “He didn’t really seem to have much empathy.”

According to UK animal welfare group RSPCA, outside temperatures of 22°C (71°F) can reach a brutal 47°C (116.6°F) inside a car within an hour.

“Police officers attended and tried to get a contact number for the owners of the car but were unable,” a Sussex Police spokesperson said. “Officers had no choice but to smash the side window to gain access and a kind member of the public donated a bottle of water.”

Authorities added that the officers let the pet owners off with a stern warning, without ticketing the family or separating their dogs from them.

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Scientists Prove What Causes Aurora Borealis for the First Time

Elias Marat

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Since the dawn of time, humans have been mystified by what causes the aurora borealis or northern lights. However, a group of scientists have finally uncovered what causes the dazzling lightshow that has captivated people for so long.

Researchers at the University of Iowa have proven that the shimmering auroras are the result of powerful electromagnetic waves during geomagnetic storms, according to a newly published study.

According to the study, phenomena known as Alfven waves propel electrons toward Earth and cause the particles to produce the brilliant display of northern lights seen in the higher latitudes of our planet,

“Measurements revealed this small population of electrons undergoes ‘resonant acceleration’ by the Alfven wave’s electric field, similar to a surfer catching a wave and being continually accelerated as the surfer moves along with the wave,” Prof. Greg Howes, a co-author of the study, told CNN.

Scientists have long understood that the aurora was the likely result of electrons surfing across the electric field, at least since the theory was introduced in 1946 by Soviet scientist Lev Landau.

However, the University of Iowa professors were able to finally put the theory to the test through a simulation at a lab at the Large Plasma Device (LPD) in the Basic Plasma Science Facility of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Using a 20-meter-long chamber to simulate the magnetic field of the Earth through state-of-the-art magnetic field coils, scientists were able to generate plasma similar to that which exists in spac.

“Using a specially designed antenna, we launched Alfven waves down the machine, much like shaking a garden hose up and down quickly, and watching the wave travel along the hose,” said Howes.

While this didn’t result in the type of auroras we might see in the sky, “our measurements in the laboratory clearly agreed with predictions from computer simulations and mathematical calculations, proving that electrons surfing on Alfven waves can accelerate the electrons (up to speeds of 45 million mph) that cause the aurora,” Howes noted.

Scientists across the country were elated by the results of the experiment.

“I was tremendously excited! It is a very rare thing to see a laboratory experiment that validates a theory or model concerning the space environment,” said Patrick Koehn, a scientist in the Heliophysics Division of NASA.

“Space is simply too big to easily simulate in the lab,” he added.

Researchers are hopeful that a greater understanding will allow forecasters to better understand weather conditions in space.

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Arizona Restores Gas Chamber Where ‘Nazi-Era’ Gas Will be Used for Executions

Elias Marat

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Arizona has restored an old gas chamber retired during the 20th century in a bid to continue executing its inmates on death row, renewing criticisms about capital punishment and a method of execution the United States once rejected for being excessively cruel and unusual.

The gas chamber, which hasn’t been operated since it executed its last inmate 1999, has been refurbished to ensure that it can properly function as an option for death row prisoners to choose, reports Associated Press.

The move comes after the Grand Canyon State made a large purchase of ingredients to manufacture its own hydrogen cyanide gas.

The same chemicals Arizona plans on using were also used by the Nazis during the holocaust under the brand name Zyklon B. News articles about Arizona’s plans have provoked outrage among survivors of Nazi death camps in Germany and Israel.

“Whether or not one supports the death penalty as a general matter, there is general agreement in American society that a gas devised as a pesticide, and used to eliminate Jews, has no place in the administration of criminal justice,” wrote the American Jewish Committee said in a statement. 

The federal government has also used the gas in past executions of prisoners.

Arizona’s revival of the old execution method comes as prison authorities across the country continue to grapple with problems over another form of execution decried by critics as brutal, namely the use of lethal injection.

Once depicted as a more humane and painless form of killing prisoners, lethal injection has often led to slow, torturous and excruciating deaths. Additionally, many of the chemicals used in lethal injection drugs are impossible to attain due to the refusal of drug makers to continue manufacturing them – effectively cutting off the “choices” given to death row inmates about their preferred method of death.

In South Carolina, a recently-passed law would see inmates being forced to choose between firing squad and an electric chair, reports NPR.

In the waning days of the Trump administration, the outgoing president also vigorously pushed to fast-track the use of death by firing squad and death by electrocution.

At the time, former federal prosecutor Miriam Krinsky, who also heads the Fair and Just Prosecution advocacy group, said:

“As we find itself in the midst of a national reckoning with racism and our history of racial violence, ending the death penalty must be part of our transformation … Abolishing the death penalty would be a signal that the Biden-Harris administration is committed to fairness, equity, and evidence-based justice — and the time for this definitive move is long overdue.”

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