Fortnightly News Roundup 28th October – 11th November 2018
Being well informed isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be time consuming. In this feature, The Yorker is bringing you a fortnightly roundup of politics free national and international news. From the stories you’ve seen to some you might not have, this is everything you need to know from the past two weeks.
Young women are crowdfunding Kyrgyzstan’s space programme
Kyrgyzstan’s isn’t one of the 72 countries with an official space programme. However, around a dozen young women aged from 17 to 25 decided to start their own space programme: Kyrgyz Space Program. They came together after journalist Bektour Iskender, head of Kloop Media, one of the top media agencies in the country, had a chance meeting with Alexander MacDonald, a program executive for NASA’s Emerging Space initiative. MacDonald told Bektour about a relatively inexpensive satellite known as a CubeSat that can cost as little as $150,000 to produce. Kloop already had a journalism school, and an aspect of that was coding and robotics, so they decided to begin a space programme. As Iskender explained in an interview with Ted Ideas, “A satellite-building school for girls only — what a strong message it would be for our patriarchal society, to have Kyrgyzstan’s first satellite built by a group of young women!”.
In a country described last year by Reuters as “a nation rife with domestic violence, child marriage and bride kidnappings,” Aidana Aidarbekova, a 19-year-old student participating in the project, said, “There are a lot of people who don’t believe that girls are capable of doing anything else but cleaning and cooking and giving birth to children.” As MacDonald told the Thomson Reuters Foundation “[Building a satellite] can serve as a powerful social and political signal.” The project’s hope is that it will inspire women and girls not only in Kyrgyzstan, but also around the world. The Patreon page has recently reached its $1,000 per month goal to allow the team to build and test a prototype on the ground, but they have quite a way to go before they will be able to send it to the International Space Station. They won’t have to do this themselves though, NASA for example has an initiative that sends CubeSats into space.
13-year-old girl criticised for playing a ‘boy’s sport’
Darcie, 13, from Cwmbran in Torfaen, wants to play football professionally. She is a central midfielder for a local football team. But, as she told the BBC, “I ask my PE teachers if I can play football, can I do that as a recommended sport and they say no because it is a boy’s sport.” She was also told, “Girls’ sport is hockey, netball, dance and all that and the boys’ is basketball, rugby or football.” Darcie says she has not only faced abuse from boys at her school, calling her “a man or a lesbian”, but also from parents shouting things like “don’t let a girl tackle you” at games. Sally Holland, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, told the BBC that it was “depressing” to hear of this gender stereotyping, but also said it was reflective of wider societal attitudes. A spokesperson for the Welsh Government said “There is nothing that directs schools to follow particular sports for girls and boys and many are already looking at ways in which they can tackle gender stereotyping.”
Several once-paralysed men have been able to walk again with a spinal implant
According to new research published in Nature, three men who were once paralysed have been able to regain control of their legs and take a few, albeit awkward, unsupported steps. The implant itself acts on an as-needed basis and roughly mimics the body’s own signalling mechanism. The men did already have some feeling in their legs, and required months of extensive physical therapy. Researchers have cautioned that the study was small, and that we are still far off curing all spinal injuries. Chet Moritz, a brain scientist at the University of Washington, who was not involved in the study said,“the exciting thing about these findings is that they hold out the promise that spinal cord injuries can be cured, to an extent that restores walking, and that many movements persist even when stimulation is turned off.” But this isn’t the first study that has allowed paralysed patients to walk again. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed epidural stimulation helped patients regain control of their legs, and some were able to walk unaided.
What else do you need to know?
The death toll from Typhoon Yutu, known locally as Rosita, reached 15, after the typhoon triggered landslides. Dozens more are still missing.