Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/6GaSy
Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/6GaSy
Actor Kevin Sorbo recently made a powerful rally cry on behalf of the pro-life community in an op-ed for CNS News co-written with his wife, Sam.
While many Hollywood A-listers are known for their liberal pro-abortion agendas, Sorbo takes quite the opposite stance on the sanctity of human life.
“We dress it up with ‘my body, my choice,’” says Sorbo, “but it is still a life inside of a woman’s womb, and that life is still extinguished by the brutal procedure of abortion.
In an effort to expose that lie that so many women cling to when deciding to abort, he begins by telling the story of his friends “Mike” and “Kate”:
“Years ago, a friend – we’ll call him ‘Mike’ – received a phone call from an old girlfriend – we’ll call her ‘Kate’ – who asked him to accompany her to the abortion clinic. She was in a bad way, fearing the worst from the life that was growing inside her womb. She was single, and otherwise responsible, but somehow her birth control had failed her. Now she found herself with child. She had a job, friends, a whole life ahead of her to think about, and a baby being thrust into that mix was inconceivable to her.”
Totally terrified and seeing her future crumble before her very eyes, Kate did the only thing she thought sensible at the time: schedule an abortion.
However, as the day of the appointment drew nearer, Kate became more and more frightened of the surgical procedure that would end the life inside her.
Hoping to get the support of a friend who wouldn’t judge her decision, Kate reached out to Mike and pleaded with him to come to the abortion clinic and hold her hand.
“How could Mike refuse?” wrote Sorbo. “The culture instructed him that he was just a man, with absolutely no say in decisions of which lives are worthy, and which might be discarded like yesterday’s pasta dinner, especially because he wasn’t the father. But even the father is effectively and tragically cut out of the conversation, typically because ‘my body, my choice’ is the lie our culture has purchased.”
But Mike’s response was not what Kate expected. After taking a deep breath, he asked, “Can we talk? I mean, honestly talk, for a moment?”
Feeling lost and alone, Kate readily agreed to hear out what Mike had to say.
But after anticipating a simple line or two of guidance and encouragement from her friend, Kate was totally taken aback when she heard what was really on Mike’s heart:
“This child inside your womb is the greatest love story of your life, Kate,” he said. “Killing it will not solve your problem; it will create an even bigger one. I understand you feel a great burden. Bringing a life into the world can be just that, but in removing that life from your body, you will be destroying an opportunity to know love like you have never imagined. So, I beg you not to do this thing. Change your point of view, instead, and see this as the greatest of love stories, one that will be yours for the rest of your life.”
Mike’s words weighed heavily on Kate as she processed his plea through a stream of tears and agreed to think about it.
And praise God she did… because it was exactly that message from Mike that saved her baby boy, who is now “grown, married and a father to Kate’s grandchildren,” says Sorbo.
After detailing Mike and Kate’s powerful story, Sorbo continued to drive home his point that “nothing good can come from a lie”—specifically the lie that says ‘It’s my body; I can do what I want with it.’
“Secular humanists have made the word abortion sound like a woman’s right, synonymous with health care, female empowerment, standing for women’s issues, a choice, a solution; anything but the truth,” writes Sorbo. “The truth is, however, abortion is the termination of life. It is just a euphemism for murder because the only reason to get an abortion is to avoid the potential of birth – a human birth.”
The Hercules actor further elaborated on the hypocrisy of our nation’s stance on abortion by pointing out the extreme laws protecting animals’ lives:
“In some cases, disturbing the nest of a sea turtle and stealing its eggs is a crime punishable by years in prison and tremendous fines, but we have an entire industry in this nation devoted to the murder of unborn human beings. This is the new civil rights cause for our country.”
And Sorbo doesn’t stop calling out the double standard there…
“Barely a century after our grave and costly war against slavery, against depriving some human beings of their dignity and based solely on their skin color, we codified into law the right of the citizen to kill her progeny, based solely on its size and location, while unwittingly depriving herself of love that is pure and enduring.”
“This is the definition of evil, pure and simple,” he writes in closing.
In a culture that continues to normalize the murder of unborn babies, I’m thankful for men like Kevin Sorbo who use their celebrity platform to speak out for those who do not yet have a voice…in hopes that one day, they will.
To learn more about how you can help women choose life for their babies, visit SaveTheStorks.com. If you or someone you know is considering abortion, visit www.focusonthefamily.com now, or call 1-855-771-HELP (4357) to speak with a licensed Christian counselor today.
If you’re having trouble staying active (uh, who isn’t??), here’s something that might actually motivate you to get your butt off the couch: This new app helps users track how far they’ve fallen every time they tumble down a flight of stairs.
Finally, a way to figure out how many steps you really fell down on your way to work this morning, without any of the guesswork!
Here’s how it works: The app is called StairTracker, and after you download it and make a StairTracker profile specifying your height and weight, it will automatically log how many vertical feet you drop and how many stair steps you bypass every time you careen headfirst down a flight of stairs. According to StairTracker developers, the app uses the accelerometer on your phone to track your flailing body’s journey as it skids down a staircase—but users who are committed to making tracking their tumbles a part of their lifestyle can also buy a StairTracker watch that syncs with the smartphone app automatically.
Plus, StairTracker lets you set goals for distance fallen, and alerts you with a notification when you’ve hit your “plummet goal” for the day. The app’s developers also made sure to include a social element, so you can add friends to your profile and react to the falls they post with a “nice spill” sticker.
So the next time you find yourself sitting there at the bottom of a staircase, wondering how far you’ve fallen, why not give StairTracker a try? It could be just what you need for the new year.
Every person receiving Personal Independence Payments (PIP) will have their claim reviewed, the Department for Work and Pensions has said.
A total of 1.6 million of the main disability benefit claims will be reviewed, with around 220,000 people expected to receive more money.
It comes after the DWP decided not to challenge a court ruling that said changes to PIP were unfair to people with mental health conditions.
The review could cost £3.7bn by 2023.
The minister for disabled people, Sarah Newton, said the DWP was embarking on a “complex exercise and of considerable scale”.
She added: “Whilst we will be working at pace to complete this exercise it is important that we get it right.”
Ministers made changes to PIP in 2017 which limited the amount of support people with mental health conditions could receive.
As a result, people who were unable to travel independently on the grounds of psychological distress – as opposed to other conditions – were not entitled to the enhanced mobility rate of the benefit.
The government pressed ahead with the proposals, despite criticism from an independent tribunal in 2016.
An independent review of PIP in 2017 was critical of the assessment system, after revealing 65% of those who appealed against rejected claims saw the decision overturned by judges.
And in December, a High Court judge ruled the alterations “blatantly discriminate” against people with psychiatric problems and were a breach of their human rights.
Last week, new Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey announced the government would not appeal against the judgement, despite not agreeing with certain aspects of it.
The government’s announcement to review all claims for PIP is not, as it may seem at first glance, a complete overhaul of the system.
This judgement won’t affect people with physical disabilities, but the DWP will be going through everyone currently in receipt of PIP to narrow the 1.6 million claims down to approximately 220,000 people it thinks will be affected.
The DWP has told me it will prioritise claimants who were disallowed PIP over those already in receipt of the award.
Shadow work and pensions secretary Debbie Abrahams said it was “shocking” that so many claims were having to be reviewed and expressed concern that a timetable for action was yet to be put forward.
“The government was wrong to cut PIP benefits in the first place, wrong to bring in the PIP regulations last year and it was wrong to repeatedly ignore the views of the courts,” she said.
Mark Atkinson, chief executive at disability charity Scope, said more had to be done to address all the issues.
“While it’s crucial that the government urgently identifies and pays the vast numbers of disabled people who lost out on this vital support, this will not address the root of the problem,” he said.
“The fundamentally flawed PIP assessment needs a radical overhaul so it accurately identifies the extra costs disabled people face.”
Philip Connolly, policy manager at Disability Rights UK, welcomed the review but expressed regret at “persistent failures” of the assessment process.
“Huge amounts of taxpayers’ money is being wasted on poor quality assessments which deny disabled people benefits that they qualify for.”
Keith Thompson, who lives with bipolar disorder, had his PIP reduced from £420 to £220 because he did not score enough points on his assessment.
The 49-year-old was moved from the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to PIP in October 2017.
He told the BBC: “I got a letter saying my payments would stop and I would be reviewed by assessment for PIP.
“The lady there wasn’t a psychiatrist. She asked if I could walk, none of the questions related to any of my mental health problems.”
He said that he “felt totally discriminated”, and that the “whole process was totally disgusting”.
He was initially told he would receive no PIP payment, but that was later reviewed and he was informed he would receive a minor PIP, rather than the full amount.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. What if it gets reviewed and I end up with nothing?”
Kelly Bailey lives with borderline personality disorder, and says she had her PIP removed when she informed the DWP her condition had worsened.
“They sent me for a consultation, we spoke for a little while, and then they sent a letter saying thanks for letting us look at your claim again.
“I got the letter in January. The letter said that my needs have changed so now they’re stopping my payments.”
Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-42862904
Why did this cow cross the road? We’ll give you a hint: it wasn’t to get to the udder side.
This domesticated cow escaped her pen and has been spotted roaming Poland’s countryside with a 50-head herd of wild bison.
Some speculate she was searching for freedom.
Others say she’s just living her best life.
The reddish-brown Limousin was first reported last fall by Polish news portal TVN24. She was just a wee calf then and the ornithologist who spotted her assumed she would eventually make a return home. Then last week biologist Rafal Kowalczyk (coincidence?) saw the healthy cow again with the bison roaming the Bialowieza Forest in eastern Poland.
The bison expert says she appears to be in good health, indicating she is able to find food.
“Thick fur common to her breed and the mild winter in eastern Poland so far this year have also helped her,” Kowalczyk told the Associated Press.
While it is an exceptional sight, Kowalczyk says it could also be a dangerous one.
Weighing in at 800 kilograms (over 1,750 pounds), the European buffalo is Europe’s largest mammal. If the cow mates with a bison and gets pregnant, the hybrid calf could be bigger than a normal cow calf and kill her.
If the cow is able to successfully bring a baby to term, any offspring would contaminate the gene pool of the already endangered bison population.
The European buffalo was driven nearly to extinction at the beginning of the 20th century when German soldiers and locals hunted them during the First World War. Through careful breeding, the herd has since been restored.
A “beefalo” baby might hinder progress made to protect the endemic species as well as the survival of Europe’s 8,000-year-old primeval forest.
It wouldn’t be the first time a cow-buffalo hybrid has wreaked havoc on an ecosystem. Beefalo first intentionally came into existence in the 1960s, when bison were cross-bred with domestic cattle in the southwest US. It was an effort to get the best of both the hardy, delicious bison and the fertile, easily-domesticated cow.
As with most ideas, it seemed like a good one at the time.
After escaping their pens, officials and tribal authorities have reported the beefalo – also called cattalo – is wreaking havoc on the region’s grassland ecosystem, drinking already limited water supplies, and destroying ancient stone ruins (buffalo have a tendency to rub themselves against standing structures).
At last count, an estimated 600 beefalo were still roaming the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.
“While it certainly is not normal for a bison to accept a calf of a different species – we have some members who graze both beef and bison in the same pasture – it’s not unprecedented,” said Jim Matheson, assistant director of the National Bison Association. However, the National Bison Association includes in its code of ethics absolutely no crossbreeding of bison with any other species.
Both bison and domesticated cattle are part of the cloven-hooved Bovidae family, along with yak, antelopes, sheep, goats, and muskoxen.
Nonetheless, Kowalczyk says scientists will try to remove the cow from the herd by summer.
Don Lanes widow says he was afraid of getting fined if he did not ensure his round was covered
The future belongs to those who can afford it. This may be virtually true in today’s world, where surviving retirement can feel impossible, but it’s also the literal premise of Altered Carbon, Netflix’s new prestige sci-fi series. Based on Richard K. Morgan’s novel of same name, the neo-noir is set several hundred years in the future, when human consciousness has been digitized into microchip-like “stacks” constantly being swapped into and out of various bodies, or “sleeves.”
This technology, along with innovations like human cloning and artificial intelligence, has given society a quantum leap, but it’s also sent socioeconomic stratification into overdrive, creating dire new realities for the poor and incarcerated while simultaneously producing an elite upper-class. Called “Mets”—short for “Methuselahs”—the members of Altered Carbon’s 0.001 percent have achieved virtual immortality thanks to vaults of their own cloned sleeves and cloud backups full of their stacks. It’s either dystopia or utopia, depending on one’s bank account.
Whatever your views on the show’s plot, in which a former rebel supersoldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), on ice in a stack prison, is revived and hired by a Met to solve the murder of his last sleeve, Altered Carbon’s best quality is its worldbuilding. In the 25th century, transhumanism—the belief that human beings are destined to transcend their mortal flesh through technology—has reached its full potential, and some of its end results are not pretty, at all.
But Altered Carbon is only the latest bit of transhumanism to hit TV recently. From Black Mirror’s cookies and Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams’ mind-invading telepaths and alien bodysnatchers to Star Trek: Discovery’s surgical espionage and Travelers’ time-jumping consciousness, the classic tropes of body-hopping, body-swapping, and otherwise commandeering has exploded in an era on the brink, one in which longevity technology is accelerating more rapidly than ever, all while most people still trying to survive regular threats to basic corporeal health and safety.
These tropes have enjoyed a healthy existence in sci-fi and horror for decades, but now more than ever transhumanism is ubiquitous in pop culture, asking us to consider the ethical, personal, political, and economic implications of an ideology with a goal—implementing technology in the human body to prolong and improve life—that is already beginning to take shape.
A crucial fact to remember about transhumanism and the philosophies it inspired, including the ones modeled by Altered Carbon’s Mets, is that its conception was heavily rooted in eugenics. Though earlier thinkers had already produced work one could call transhumanist today, the term wasn’t coined until 1951, by Julian Huxley, a noted evolutionary biologist (and brother to Brave New World author Aldous Huxley). Julian Huxley believed strongly in the fundamentally exclusionary theory that society would improve immensely if only its “best” members were allowed to procreate. In the speech in which he first used the word “transhumanism,” he claimed that in order for humans to “transcend the tentative fumblings of our ancestors,” society ought to enact “a concerted policy … to prevent the present flood of population-increase from wrecking all our hopes for a better world.”
While he didn’t necessarily believe the criteria for what constituted “best” should be drawn along racial or economic lines, the ideology Huxley promoted was inherently elitist. It also allowed for virtually as many interpretations as there are people, and plenty of those people, particularly those in power—especially in Huxley’s time, but also in the fictional future of Altered Carbon—did and do believe “best” means “white, straight, financially successful, and at least nominally Christian.” As a result, the concept he named ended up being primarily conceptualized in its infancy by white men of privilege.
This, of course, didn’t remain the main interpretation of transhumanism for long. In the years following Huxley’s coinage, humans made profound leaps in technological innovation, first in computers and then in AI, which allowed more people to envision the possibilities of one day being able to transcend their organic limitations. The basic concept was easily repurposed by those whose oppression has always been tied to physical violence—notably people of color, LGBTQ people, and women.
By the early 1980s, scholars like Natasha Vita-More and Donna Haraway had revamped the concept with manifestos that argued transhumanism ought to be about “diversity” and “multiplicity,” about breaking down constructs like gender, race, and ability in favor of a more fluid, “chimeric” alternative in which each person can be many seemingly contradictory things at once—including human and machine. (As WIRED’s Julie Muncy explains in her review of the first season, Altered Carbon touches upon but never really takes a stance on this dimension of a post-corporeal world.)
As Silicon Valley boomed, so did transhumanism. Millionaire investors have poured endless cash into anti-aging research, machine intelligence companies, and virtual reality; meanwhile, the possibility of extended or superhuman life has veered even further into becoming the exclusive purview of the extremely rich (and, more often than not, extremely white and extremely male). In 1993, mathematician and science-fiction writer Vernor Vinge pegged the arrival of the singularity—the moment at which technology, particularly AI, supersedes human intelligence and either eliminates humanity or fuses with it, allowing people to finally become “post-human”—at around 2030; by 2005 futurist Ray Kurzweil was agreeing with Vinge in his now-seminal book The Singularity is Near. (The Verge has a solid timeline of transhumanist thought here.)
Today, working organs are being 3D-printed. Nanites, while a few years off, are definitely on the horizon. And the technologies that fuel nightmare fodder like Black Mirror are becoming realities almost daily, which gives the overwhelming impression to laypeople that the Singularity, while perhaps still technically far off, is imminent.
Add privatized healthcare, police brutality, immigration, sexual assault, and plenty more extremely real threats to people’s physical bodies—not to mention the exponential growth of the TV industry itself—and you’ve got the perfect cocktail for a flood of transhumanist sci-fi shows that give form to anxieties viewers have about both wanting to escape the physical confines of their blood-bag existences and being absolutely, justifiably terrified of what could go wrong when they actually do.
But however uncomfortable it may be, that dilemma is not accidental. It has become necessary to understanding and surviving our current techno-political moment. Whether enjoying the ecstasy of possibility in Altered Carbon’s disembodied immortality or writhing in the agony of imagining eternity as a digital copy of one’s own consciousness, the roller coaster of emotions these shows elicit ought to be a major signal to audiences that now is the time to be thinking about the cost of pursuing technological immortality. If stacks and sleeves are indeed our inevitable future, the moral quandary won’t lie in the body-swapping itself—it’ll be reckoning with who gets to do it and why.
The robot revolution we’re in the midst of is way more interesting and way less murder-y than science fiction. Call it the multiplicity.
Make room on your to-be-read list. On Thursday, PEN America announced its lists of finalists for the 2018 PEN Literary Awards.
Each year, the PEN Literary Awards honors great new literature in fiction and a wide array of non-fiction, including sports writing, science writing, essays, and more. Past winners have included Matthew Desmond’s deep dive into eviction practices in the U.S. Evicted and Helen Oyeyemi’s fable-inspired short story collection What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours (which was also a MashReads favorite).
This year’s finalists are just as rich and compelling. Finalists for the 2018 PEN Literary Awards include the late Ursula Le Guin‘s essay collection No Time To Spare, Carmen Maria Machado’s acclaimed short story collection Her Body and Other Parties, which was also a finalist in the 2017 National Book Awards, as well as Ta-Nehisi Coates’ essay collection We Were Eight Years In Power. If Coates wins, it will mark his second PEN Literary Award, after he won the PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay for his book Between The World And Me in 2015.
These breakout books aren’t the only titles that make the 2018 PEN Literary Awards exceptional. This year’s finalist list also shines a spotlight on exceptional, diverse authors. In addition to the PEN’s annual Open Book Award, which honors books written by authors of color, two other categories are composed entirely of minority authors: for the first time ever the finalist list for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction is composed of all women and the finalist list for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is composed entirely of authors of color.
“It is fitting that our Literary Awards this year spotlight five new women’s voices in fiction as well as a dazzling diversity of writers for our flagship Stein prize and in other categories,” said PEN America Executive Director Suzanne Nossel in a press release. “PEN America’s Literary Awards celebrate some of the greatest fruits of free expression—stories that inspire, spark empathy, and change minds. At a time when the fabric of our discourse is being torn by polarization, technological change, and political upheaval, literature has the power to help us see past impasse and imagine a different future.”
Check out the finalist list below, and stay tuned for the winners to be revealed on Feb. 20.
Hannah Lillith Assadi
Black Jesus and Other Superheroes: Stories
Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Carmen Maria Machado
History of Wolves
A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa
My Soul Looks Back: A Memoir
Jessica B. Harris
Ordinary Beast: Poems
Lessons on Expulsion: Poems
Erika L. Sánchez
The Butchering Art: Joseph Lister’s Quest to Transform the Grisly World of Victorian Medicine
American Eclipse: A Nation’s Epic Race to Catch the Shadow of the Moon and Win the Glory of the World
Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life
No One Cares About Crazy People: The Chaos and Heartbreak of Mental Health in America
Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
Richard Nixon: The Life
Lenin: The Man, the Dictator, and the Master of Terror
Chester B. Himes: A Biography
Lawrence P. Jackson
You Say to Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn
The Arena: Inside the Tailgating, Ticket-Scalping, Mascot-Racing, Dubiously Funded, and Possibly Haunted Monuments of American Sport
Sting Like a Bee: Muhammad Ali vs. the United States of America, 1966–1971
City of Dreams: Dodger Stadium and the Birth of Modern Los Angeles
Bones: Brothers, Horses, Cartels, and the Borderland Dream
Ali: A Life
You Play the Girl: On Playboy Bunnies, Stepford Wives, Train Wrecks & Other Mixed Messages
Flâneuse: Women Walk the City in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Venice, and London
Alpine Apprentice: A Memoir
No Time To Spare
Ursula K. Le Guin
Because It Is So Beautiful: Unraveling the Mystique of the American West
PEN Translation Prize
A Horse Walks into a Bar
Out in the Open
The Impossible Fairy Tale
PEN/ Jean Stein Book Award
We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy
Layli Long Soldier
Bunk: The Rise of Hoaxes, Humbug, Plagiarists
Father of South African jazz, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78
(CNN)Once a world-renowned sports physician treating America’s foremost Olympic women gymnasts, Larry Nassar now will spend the rest of his life behind bars.