The site's map enables users to record locations where they or someone they know was raped—becoming a real-time sexual crime tracker. The platform is notable since it gives victims and witnesses a means to anonymously report assaults with a simple tweet (#RapeInSyria), text, email, or comment on the site. Lauren Wolfe, director of Women Under Siege, hopes the map will point her team to the areas where survivor services are needed most. And once the security situation on the ground becomes more stable, she says, the group will work with researchers to verify the reports and build a database of evidence to hopefully pursue war crimes charges.
Still, there are kinks to be worked out. "The difficulty rests in people coming forward in the first place," says Wolfe. "There are so many reasons for them not to say anything." Her team is still building up multiple layers of precautions, like constructing a secure server and SMS number, so women don't have to fear shame or retribution.
The fragile wetlands of the Everglades have long been choked by pollution, especially phosphorus from fertilizers used in industrial agriculture. Sugar cane in particular makes up the largest share of the crop land that drains directly into the national park. But a new study shows that despite the fact that the preponderance of gunk feeding into the Everglades comes from agriculture, it is the taxpayers, not the industry, who fork over for clean up.
The study, which was commissioned by the Everglades Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to protect the complex ecosystem, finds that although the agricultural industry is responsible for 76 percent of phosphorus contamination in the Everglades (the rest being urban runoff and wastewater), it pays only 24 percent of the cost of dealing with it. Even though Florida's "polluter pays" amendment requires those who sully the wetlands to be "primarily responsible" for its cleanup, legislators have declined to enforce the law, sticking taxpayers with 66 percent of the bill.
Why this state of affairs? "It's a little secret that the sugar industry is one of the most generous political donors on every level of government," says Kirk Fordham, CEO of the Everglades Foundation. The US Sugar Corporation spent $907,000 to lobby the Florida legislature in 2011 alone, and its rival Florida Crystals wasn't far behind, doling out $570,000.
The sugar daddies quickly issued a statement calling the study "hocus pocus." Gov. Scott's office did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year the governor cut funds for Everglades water clean up, and the Sunshine State has been fighting a legal battle with the feds for years over its responsibility to pay for pollution abatement in federally-managed areas of the Glades. Gov. Scott is currently in negotiations with the Obama administration to draft a new version of a decade-old state and federal restoration project.
Could the study shift the balance of payments? Fordham thinks so. "Rick Scott ran on a platform of protecting the taxpayer, and there would be no better way to follow through on that commitment than to demand that polluters pay more than taxpayers."
The Israeli contemporary dance company Batsheva has enthralled audiences internationally with its visceral choreography and raw style of movement. Its director, Ohad Naharin, is one of the most renowned choreographers today, his works regularly commissioned by the fanciest opera ballets in the world.
But the company is facing a less-than-warm welcome in many of the stops on its current five-week North American tour on account of the fact that it's partially backed by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which funds a "Brand Israel" campaign to send artists overseas in order to "show Israel’s prettier face, so we are not thought of purely in the context of war." In response, protesters have been gearing up to picket outside theaters as the tour heads to the East Coast and Canada. Outside the show in San Francisco on Saturday night, a group of activists with signs and fliers waylaid fans heading inside. Contending that Batsheva was shilling for the Israeli government by whitewashing its cultural image, one protestor likened their campaign to the boycotting that ended apartheid in South Africa. Batsheva's communications department told me that "Batsheva's core is art and creation, and as such does not represent governmental policies."
I'm a big fan of Naharin. The first work I saw of his–Minus 16–blew my mind. His work careens between extremes, both physical and emotional, but he also plays with space and silence, both between bodies and within them. The movement vocabulary he created, called Gaga, is about "moving from sensation" rather than from received ideas of moves or shapes. His dancers, who collaborate actively in his choreography, improvise without mirrors, instead working from metaphors he suggests. This process creates a quality that is raw rather than showy:
The hour-long piece they are touring, Max, is more understated than many of his other works, which walk the knife edge between violence and rapture, but it is unmistakably Naharin. Lacking any defined narrative, the piece segues from scenes of struggle to silliness to pure movement compositions. The dancers, clothed simply in tank tops and briefs, perform endless series of schizophrenic but seamless movements, whether in silent unison, to a heavy beat, or on top of an eerie baritone. Torsos seem to melt from the inside as arms float and palms are sucked inwards to freeze at the waist. Dancers cut arcs with their legs, then crumple to the floor.