Television and other media are often criticized for objectifying women, but a new study from a team of Australian and British researchers has found that women are more likely to compare their appearance to photos of other women in magazines and on Facebook, rather than women on TV.…
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin on Monday announced it wants to launch a space station that will house up to 10 people in the second half of the decade, as the race to commercialize the cosmos heats up.
"Orbital Reef," described in a press statement as a mixed-use business park in space that will support microgravity research and manufacturing, is a joint venture with commercial space company Sierra Space and has the support of Boeing and Arizona State University.
"For over sixty years, NASA and other space agencies have developed orbital space flight and space habitation, setting us up for commercial business to take off in this decade," said Blue Origin executive Brent Sherwood.
"We will expand access, lower the cost, and provide all the services and amenities needed to normalize space flight."
The private outpost is one of several planned in the coming years as NASA considers the future of the International Space Station after the 2020s.
The space agency holds a contract with a company called Axiom to develop a space station that will initially dock with the ISS and later become free-flying.
Last week, space services company Nanoracks, in collaboration with Voyager Space and Lockheed Martin, announced a planned space station that will be operational by 2027 and be known as Starlab.
According to a fact sheet released by Blue Origin, Orbital Reef will fly at an altitude of 500 kilometers (310 miles), slightly above the ISS, with inhabitants experiencing 32 sunrises and sunsets a day.
It will support 10 people in a volume of 830 cubic meters (30,000 cubic feet), which is slightly smaller than the ISS, in futuristic modules with huge windows.
The ISS was completed in 2011 and has long been a symbol of US-Russia space cooperation, though Moscow has recently equivocated on the future of the partnership.
It is currently rated as safe until 2028 and new administrator Bill Nelson has said he hopes it will last until 2030, by which time NASA wants the commercial sector to step up and replace it.
Blue Origin is currently only able to fly to suborbital space with its New Shepard rocket, which blasted Star Trek actor William Shatner beyond the atmosphere, earlier this month.
Its other planned projects include New Glenn, a rocket that can fly cargo and people into orbit, and a lunar lander -- though it lost the Moon contract to rival SpaceX, and is suing NASA to try to reverse that decision.
Bezos, the second richest man in the world thanks to e-commerce giant Amazon, founded Blue Origin in 2000, with the goal of one day building floating space colonies with artificial gravity where millions of people will work and live, freeing Earth from pollution.
These colonies would be based on a design by Gerard O'Neill, Bezos' physics professor at Princeton, and would consist of counter-rotating cylinders providing artificial gravity.
Jennifer Cashman and her family lost virtually everything when their house in Paradise, California was razed by a wildfire -- forcing them to join the growing ranks of climate migrants around the world.
They moved 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) to a new life in Vermont on the other side of the United States, far from the annual danger of fast-moving fires worsened by climate change.
"Our house and our business were completely gone. And it happened so fast, that we weren't able to really get anything out of the house except for ourselves," Cashman said.
"We had a suitcase each. That's all we had to our name."
The fire that tore through Paradise in 2018 killed 86 people and ruined nearly 19,000 buildings in just one day.
On the advice of a friend, the Cashman family went to visit Stowe, a small town in Vermont, and moved there with the help of insurance money in January 2019.
"We knew when the fire came that we were done; I could not live in California anymore," the 47-year-old said.
Repeated evacuations had left their scars.
"It was the fear of every time you smell smoke. Are we going to be OK? And having my son scared even if you lit a fire in the fireplace; he was afraid of it," said Cashman.
"You know, the whole family's in therapy right now to deal with the trauma. My daughter suffers from really bad nightmares."
Eight of the 10 largest fires ever recorded in California have occurred since 2017, as a punishing drought, sparked by human-caused global warming, leaves forests dry and flammable.
California, once a dream destination for millions and home to the world's fifth-largest economy, now faces climate migration -- a phenomenon previously only associated with poor, low-lying Pacific atolls threatened by rising seas or with arid areas in developing countries.
The heating planet is making refugees even in the world's wealthiest countries.
"Wildfires cause mass displacement, and because these wildfires are exacerbated by climate change, I think that we can start to think about these broad-scale movements as an aspect of climate migration," says Rebecca Miller, a researcher at the University of Southern California (USC) with the "West on Fire" project.
According to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Center, a Norwegian NGO, wildfires have forced an average of more than 200,000 people to leave their homes each year over the past decade.
Nearly three-quarters of them were in the United States, the vast majority in California.
Last year's record-breaking fires, which consumed more than 6,600 square miles (17,000 square kilometers) of forest, according to California fire officials, displaced 600,000 people for varying lengths of time.
'Raising kids in a disaster zone'
Another "climate refugee" from Paradise, Jessica Distefano, still cries when she thinks about the fire that burned her out of her home.
"I just felt like I was raising my kids in a disaster zone. Everything around us was burnt," she tells AFP from her new home near Boise, Idaho, three years after fleeing Paradise as it was almost wiped off the map by the ferocious blaze.
The decision to leave Paradise was less clear-cut for Maria Barbosa, who says she was at first determined to rebuild after the blaze destroyed her home.
"I'm in my 70s; I had planned on retiring to Paradise," she said.
"But as I researched and found out what it was going to take -- a woman by herself -- it just seemed overwhelming.
"It seems like a lot of my friends that are my age or older are opting to go elsewhere."
Barbosa, who now lives in a much lower-risk area of Idaho, around 1,000 miles from her old home, says she enjoys going back to visit Paradise, but she knows she could never live there again.
"You don't feel comfortable. Like it would be a constant threat to you every time. Every time there's a wind or a smell of smoke, it comes back."
Each story has its own unique heartbreak, but, says Nina Berlin, who researches human behavior in wildfires at Stanford University, they all have a common thread -- one that will become increasingly familiar as the planet gets hotter.
"Households are moving toward a tipping point where the factors that are rooting them in place, like their family, like their jobs, like their access to the outdoors, are outweighed by the impacts of wildfire and smoke," she said.
"We're looking at migration as one adaptation strategy among many that individuals might engage in, in order to ideally reduce the exposure to those risks."
Amazon warehouse workers in New York said Monday they had filed to create a union, hoping to be the first such body recognized by the e-commerce giant six months after a similar attempt failed elsewhere.
Their effort has been closely watched as it could pave the way for further unionization in the United States at one of the world's most powerful companies.
Amazon Labor Union (ALU), the organizing group in New York that submitted the formal papers to officials, said the company is fighting the effort.
"The world is watching," said ALU head Christian Smalls, an ex-Amazon employee who sued over his dismissal and pandemic conditions at their Staten Island facility.
"This is New York. This is a union town and we got to prove it," he added, as he left the Brooklyn office for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the federal agency in charge of labor law.
Smalls said more than 2,000 cards had been signed asking for a vote -- but for the election to go ahead, more than half of the New York facility's employees will need to agree.
ALU lawyer Eric Milner said the minimum number of signatures required -- 30 percent of laborers -- had been reached.
He said the NLRB had set a hearing for November 15 to discuss the unionization procedure. Until then, Amazon is required to inform warehouse employees the case has been accepted.
"We're skeptical that a sufficient number of legitimate employee signatures has been secured to warrant an election," said Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel.
But she added: "If there is an election, we want the voice of our employees to be heard and look forward to it."
The ALU said it is seeking "higher wages, job security, safer working conditions, more paid time off, better medical leave options, longer breaks and more."
The fresh push came after a US labor official in August recommended the results be nullified in an earlier failed effort at an Alabama warehouse, opening a possible path to a new election.
The union alleges that efforts to form the first union at a US-based Amazon facility were tainted by the company's interference.
The hearing officer recommendation is a key step towards potentially overturning the April ballot.
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