Angelina Jolie slams ISIS' rape policy the world keeps ignoring.

Though she may be best known as a movie star, Angelina Jolie Pitt has long been committed to humanitarian causes.

Jolie Pitt has served as special envoy of the United Nations high commissioner for refugees since 2012. Before that, she was a UNHCR goodwill ambassador. And over the past few days, she's flexed her humanitarian muscles in a big way, tackling topics like ISIS in Syria and the refugee crisis.


Angelina Jolie Pitt on June 20, 2015, after visiting a refugee camp in Turkey. Photo from AFP/Getty Images.

Jolie Pitt dropped some hard truths about the refugee crisis in a recent op-ed.

Writing for The Times along with co-author, former refugee, and member of the U.K. House of Lords Arminka Helic, Jolie Pitt called on countries to take in refugees fleeing warring countries like Syria. She also urged world leaders to work toward a diplomatic solution for the region.

"We should see this for what it is — part of a wider crisis in global governance. Over the past ten years the number of forcibly displaced people in the world has doubled to 60 million. It is unsustainable and beyond what international humanitarian organisations can manage.

"It is driven by a systemic failure to resolve conflicts. Nothing tells us more about the state of the world than the movement of people across borders. It is time to look for long-term solutions and to recognise that governments, not refugees, have to provide the answer."


Syrian refugees in Budapest, Hungary, on Sept. 9. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Jolie Pitt also delivered a powerful speech accusing ISIS of using rape as a weapon to advance its agenda.

Speaking before a House of Lords committee, Jolie Pitt told the story of young girls sold into slavery for as little as $40 and repeatedly raped.

"I think the most important thing to understand is what it's not. It's not sexual, it is a violent, brutal terrorizing weapon," she said. "Unfortunately it is everywhere, in and out of conflict in every country basically. I can't think of one where there is not this issue."

She doubled down, adding that fighters are told: "'We ask you to rape.' They are saying, 'You should do this, this is the way to build a society.'"

Jolie Pitt reminds us that this crisis isn't something we can ignore any longer.

This is a global crisis that demands our attention, and her work shines a light on the true cost of global apathy. It's easy to remove yourself from a situation happening halfway across the world; it's harder to open your hearts to their pain.


Syrian children at a refugee camp. Photo by AFP/Getty Images.

How can you help? For starters, inform yourself about what's going on in Syria. Even better: Inform others, too.

"Knowledge is power" is a really cheesy saying, but it's true. Arm yourself with knowledge, and use it to help make a better world. Want to take action? Check out this list of five practical ways you can help.

We know that mammals feed their young with milk from their own bodies, and we know that whales are mammals. But the logistics of how some whales make breastfeeding happen has been a bit of a mystery for scientists. Such has been the case with sperm whales.

Sperm whales are uniquely shaped, with humongous, block-shaped heads that house the largest brains in the animal world. Like other cetaceans, sperm whale babies rely on their mother's milk for sustenance in their first year or two. And also like other cetaceans, a sperm whale mama's nipple is inverted—it doesn't stick out from her body like many mammals, but rather is hidden inside a mammary slit.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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