500+ Women Are Running for Office in 2018

US Capitol Building (City Segway Tours)

Are you a woman running for office this year? If so, you’re in good and widespread company. Initial estimates made by the Associated Press indicate that that a record number of women are running for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives during this year’s midterm elections.

Overall, 526 women have been counted as running. As of last week, 309 women from both parties had registered to run. The previous record was set in 2012, when 298 women registered to run for office.

First Female President of South Korea Impeached

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye (NovoRossia)

South Korean President Park Guen-hye made history in 2012 by becoming the first woman elected to the country’s highest office. Now, she’s made history for a more ignominious reason: Park is the first female president of South Korea to be impeached.

Park is battling various charges of corruption. The South Korean National Assembly voted to impeach her 234 to 56. The vote now will move to the Constitutional Court, which could take up to six months.

And if the Constitutional Court is in favor?

Park will be formally removed from office if six of the court’s nine justices support her impeachment, and the country would then hold a presidential election within 60 days.

According to a recent poll from Gallup Korea, Park’s current approval rating sits at a measly 5%. Incredibly, this is an improvement from her 4% approval rating. Poll respondents supported her impeachment at a rate of 81%.

 

 

Tinder Usage Up 129% Among Athletes at the Rio Summer Olympics

Rio Olympics 2016 (Indian Express)

Rio Olympics 2016 (Indian Express)

By now, it’s common knowledge that Olympic athletes hook up during their time in the Olympic Village. And naturally, one way to facilitate this is via dating apps. Specifically, Tinder has proved to be the number one choice for Olympic athletes looking to get laid.

Over the first weekend of this year’s Olympics, Tinder usage spiked a whopping 129% amongst the athletes. Impressive, right? But the data is incomplete.

This is the second Olympics where Tinder has made a splash. During the Sochi Olympics in 2014, it was reported that mobile dating usage surged, and that Tinder was the app of choice. However, since this is solely anecdotal evidence, no numbers have been reported so that we can’t gauge the size of said surge. And we cannot make any year-over-year comparisons of the growth.

Another issue is that, yes, Tinder usage is up 129% among athletes, but to what are we comparing the activity? Are we comparing to the usage data to the previous Summer Olympics (which would be London in 2012) or the most recent Olympics (the aforementioned Sochi)?

Though the number raises a few questions, it’s pretty entertaining to realize that elite athletes are just like the rest of us.

#ThrowbackThursday: John Ashcroft Covers the Spirit of Justice Statue’s Nudity, 2002

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Spirit of Justice statue, 2002 (Medieval POC Tumblr)

U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and Spirit of Justice statue, 2002 (Medieval POC Tumblr)

So this became weirdly relevant again: In 2002, Attorney General John Ashcroft put up drapes (that cost $8,000) on the Spirit of Justice statue housed in the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Why? Ostensibly to make a better backdrop for television. What Ashcroft didn’t mention was that his head was generally centered in between Lady Justice’s nude breasts. Better backdrop, my ass.

Just yesterday, Rome’s Capitoline Museum covered up classical nude statues before a press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani occurred. There seems to be some confusion as to who and why this happened: Though the Iranian embassy asked that the statues be covered, neither Italy’s Culture Minister Dario Franceschini nor Prime Minister Matteo Renzi had been aware of the request.

An investigation into the matter is currently underway.

 

China Ends Its Famous One-Child Policy

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Chinese One-Child Policy poster (The Galloping Beaver)

Whoa. Here’s something I didn’t expect to happen within my lifetime: Last week, China officially ended its one-child-per-family policy. Now, married couples are allowed to have up to two children. Crazy! (Though I kind of doubt that many couples will get crazy, and have more than two.)

The one-child policy was informally adopted (i.e. “strongly encouraged”) in 1975, made into law by the country’s Communist Party four years later. The law followed China’s population exceeding 800M+ people in 1970, with leaders realizing that the then-current growth rate was unsustainable.

However, the law has been relaxed for exceptions. In 1984, parents were allowed to have two children if one parent was an only. In 2013, this became alright if only one parent was an only child.

It’s estimated that the policy has prevented 400M+ births.

But why was the policy abolished, and why now? There are a few reasons. One is that the male-to-female sex ratio is becoming unbearably skewed, which tends to happen when preference for one sex greatly outweighs the other. (In this case, the Chinese preferred boys to girls, even going so far as to commit infanticide if a child was born a girl.) The birth rate is also declining, and the mortality rate is on track to outpace it. Per “The New York Times:”

China’s working-age population, those 15 to 64, grew by at least 100 million people from 1990 until a couple of years ago. But that expansion is petering out, and more people are living longer, leaving a greater burden on a shrinking work force. Now, about 10 percent of the population is 65 or older, and according to earlier estimates, that proportion is likely to reach 15 percent by 2027 and 20 percent by 2035.

China’s population is now 1.3B+, with 30% being over 50. It’s estimated that the decision will affect 100M+ couples.

 

Two Suicides Linked to Ashley Madison Hack

Ashley Madison homepage (Ashley Madison)

Ashley Madison homepage (Ashley Madison)

We’re beginning to see some fallout from the Ashley Madison hack from earlier this month: Police in Toronto, Canada, have reported two suicides related to the hack, and are undertaking further investigation of the cases.

Reports of the number of Ashley Madison’s users range from 30M+ to 37M+. With those numbers in mind, these two suicides constitute between .00000006% and .000000054% of the site’s total registered users whose data was leaked in the security breach.

I’m curious to see how the hack continues to affect its outed users and those close to them.

 

Transgender People May Soon Serve in the Military

Soldiers (US Army)

Soldiers (US Army)

According to reports, the Pentagon is very close to lifting a ban on transgender people serving in the military. U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter is in the midst of creating a task force that will examine how allowing transgender people to serve their country will affect every aspect of the service. The task force will take about six months to completely analyze what changes are needed.

Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like Ash would ever decide to keep the ban in place: He’s already denounced the policy as “outdated” and “caus[es] uncertainty that distracts commanders from their core missions.” Sounds to me like he’s already made up his mind to do so (yay!); he just needs a roadmap to implement the necessary changes.

From the Department of Defense’s press release, Ash seems like a guy who gets it:

At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite. Moreover, we have transgender soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines – real, patriotic Americans – who I know are being hurt by an outdated, confusing, inconsistent approach that’s contrary to our value of service and individual merit.

I’m looking forward to seeing how accommodating the military is willing towards transmen and transwomen interested in serving their country to be in the near future.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ Female Viagra Closer to Becoming Publicly Available

The experimental drug flibanserin, made by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, is at the center of a regulatory controversy.

The experimental drug flibanserin, made by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, is at the center of a regulatory controversy.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals has developed what they’re calling the Viagra for women. The new drug, named Flibanserin, purports to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder (low sex drive, in other words) in pre-menopausal women. So far, $50M has been raised in preparation for the drug’s launch, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has approved its benefits/risk profile.

The drug, now known as ADDYI, has had a long road thus far:  The drug was first rejected in 2010, when it was determined that the risks outweighed the dubious (at the time) benefits. Sprout began working on the drug in 2011, after being sold by the drug’s initial developer Boehringer Ingelheim. In December 2013, the FDA had rejected the drug for the second time.

In February 2014, the FDA wanted to see more tests done, specifically how the drug behaved when used with other medications. (Almost 10% of women taking the pill reported sleepiness during the trial.) The company resubmitted New Drug Application (NDA) this past February. The “little pink pill” was approved by an FDA advisory committee (done one step before final FDA approval), provided that more safety restrictions were added.

So far, Flibanserin/ADDYI has been tested on 11K+ women, and claims to be the “one of the most studied women’s health products in history.” Here’s what Sprout found after some recent trials:

In three 24-week randomized Phase 3, six-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group North American studies of premenopausal women with a mean age of 36 years, ADDYI consistently demonstrated a highly statistically significant difference over placebo on three key endpoints, including increase in sexual desire, decrease in distress from the loss of sexual desire and increase in the frequency of satisfying sex. Women treated with ADDYI showed significant improvements at every point of measurement in all pivotal clinical trials, with benefits seen as early as four weeks and sustained over the 24-week treatment period.

It’s too early to know when the drug will hit the public market. But it’ll be interesting to see how it performs (haha).

Lucy and Maria Aylmer: How Many Twins Look Racially Different?

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

Twin sisters Lucy and Maria Aylmer (BoredPanda)

This week, the Internet has been fascinated by a set of English fraternal twins Lucy and Maria Aylmer. But there’s something special about them: Lucy has pale skin and red hair, while Maria has brown skin and brown curly hair.

In other words, one twin looks white, and the other twin looks black.

Their parents have a mixed racial background: their mother is half Jamaican, and their father is white.

Occasionally, stories like theirs pop up every now and again. In 2009, another British mixed-race couple produced not one, but two, sets of identical twins who each looked very racially different from their sibling.

But how common is this?

Unfortunately, there are no statistics that track this. From “The Associated Press:”

The phenomenon is so uncommon that there are no statistics to illustrate its probability, although it is thought likely to become more common because of the growing number of mixed-race couples.

To give you an idea on exactly how uncommon this is (using numbers!), Dr. Sarah Jarvis of Britain’s Royal College of General Pracitioners, said in 2009 (though it still applies today):

“Even non-identical twins aren’t that common. Non-identical twins from mixed parents, of different races, less common still. To have two eggs fertilized and come out different colors, less common still. So, to have it happen twice must be one in millions.”

But that’s just a guess, though the BBC reported chances closer to 1 in 500 in 2011. We won’t know until we actually start tracking the numbers.

Michelle Bachelet Proposes Lifting Chile’s Total Abortion Ban

Chilean President Michele Bachelet (Slate)

Chilean President Michele Bachelet (Slate)

Late last month, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet proposed lifting her country’s total abortion ban.

Chile is one of seven Latin American countries to completely ban abortion. Bachelet’s bill allows for the measure in case of rape, or if the mother and/or baby are at risk of dying during the pregnancy. The procedure would be allowed up until the 12th week (3rd month) of pregnancy, or until the 18th week for girls younger than 14 years of age. Girls ages 14 to 17 would need their parents’ permission for the procedure.

Abortion has been outlawed in Chile since 1989, imposed under former dictator Augusto Pinochet during his rule. Anyone breaking this law faces up to five years in jail. (Before the ban, abortions were allowed in extenuating circumstances.) Twelve bills decriminalizing the procedure have been proposed since 1991, but none (so far) have passed through the country’s Congress.

The measure would cut down the number of women taking chances on risky, “back-street” abortions detrimental to their health. A “Reuters” estimate puts the number of illegal abortions between 15K and 160K. (Since the numbers would have to be self-reported in this case, it’s difficult to get an accurate count.)

According to an interview in Spanish newspaper “El Pais,” Bachelet was originally planning on proposing the bill in late 2014.

Bachelet faces opposition from anti-abortion activists, and from UDI, the opposing political party. Culturally, the country is also very socially conservative, owing to a large Catholic stronghold. But despite this, recent public polls found that 70% of Chileans support the bill.

This isn’t the first time Bachelet has worked to reform family planning: In her first term as president (2006-2010), she made the morning-after pill free in government hospitals available to women ages 14 and older, with parental consent unneeded.

This is one time where I think having a politician make laws about women’s bodies could work: In addition to being a woman, Bachelet is also a registered pediatrician. #FemaleLeadersKnowBest