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Armed protesters threatened an Idaho health official and her child at their home

Oof, America. We have really got to get on the same freaking page here.

Protesting public health guidelines and mandates during a global pandemic is pretty ridiculous to begin with. But when public health officials find themselves getting threats and public servants' children are feeling scared in their own homes, we've gone way, way over the line.

Last night, an Idaho health department meeting to discuss and vote on COVID-19 mask mandates came to an abrupt end due to safety concerns over protesters raging in the parking lot of the health department building as well as at the homes of some of the officials in attendance.

According to Boise police, three of the officials at the meeting had protesters gathered outside of their homes during the meeting. One health board member, Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, interrupted the meeting after a phone call to inform her colleagues that she needed to leave.


"My 12-year-old son is home by himself right now and there are protesters banging outside the door," Lachiondo said, clearly shaken and in tears. "I'm going to go home and make sure he's OK."

The meeting was shut down after the mayor and chief of police requested they adjourn in the interest of public safety.

"I got a call from the mayor, and it sounds like the police, and she is requesting that we stop the meeting at this time because of the intense level of protesters in the parking lot and concern for police safety and staff safety as well as the protesters that are at some of our board members' homes right now," Central District Health Director Russ Duke said.

Some of the protesters appeared to be part of People's Rights, an activist group created by Ammon Bundy who gained national fame in 2016 for leading the occupation of a wildlife refuge in Oregon. Others came from an anti-vaccination group, Health Freedom Idaho, according to CBS News.

Lachiondo shared an update on Twitter this morning.

"During last night's Board of Health meeting, armed protestors once again assembled outside my home: yelling, banging, firing air horns, amplifying sound clips from Scarface, accusing me of tyranny and cowering inside," she wrote. "I wasn't actually inside the house: I was calling in from my office at the Ada County Courthouse. But my two young sons and my mother (who was out taking our dog on a short walk) were. And as many of you saw last night, my son called me in tears at the beginning of the meeting."

"I am sad. I am tired. I fear that, in my choosing to hold public office, my family has too-often paid the price. Though I was born and raised in Idaho, I increasingly don't recognize this place," she wrote. "There is an ugliness and cruelty in our national rhetoric that is reaching a fevered pitch here at home, and that should worry us all."

"And, above all," she added, "I am terrified about the virus's current trajectory."

And that right there highlights what makes this whole situation so tragic. This is a public servant whose primary concern is the safety and well-being of the public. Even as she's having to deal with the safety and well-being of her own family, she's focusing on trying to save the people she serves from the impact of an out-of-control pandemic. Idaho is surging, like much of the rest of the country, and regional hospitals have warned that critical care will soon be compromised. Officials like Lachiondo are trying to keep that from happening and are being demonized for it.

When public health officials are being threatened and harassed for doing their jobs, we've entered seriously problematic territory. When children are calling their parents from inside their own home because they don't feel safe, we've lost our way. When measures to help save American lives and well-being—in addition to the economy, since the economy depends on keeping the pandemic under control—are met with armed protests, we've crossed into cuckoo bananapants land.

Enough is enough.

A breastfeeding mother's experience at Vienna's Schoenbrunn Zoo is touching people's hearts—but not without a fair amount of controversy.

Gemma Copeland shared her story on Facebook, which was then picked up by the Facebook page Boobie Babies. Photos show the mom breastfeeding her baby next to the window of the zoo's orangutan habitat, with a female orangutan sitting close to the glass, gazing at them.

"Today I got feeding support from the most unlikely of places, the most surreal moment of my life that had me in tears," Copeland wrote.

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You could say Marine biologist, divemaster and National Geographic Explorer Dr. Erika Woolsey is a bit of a coral reef whisperer, one who brings her passion for ocean science to folks on dry land in a fresh, innovative and fun new way using virtual reality.

Images courtesy of Meta’s Community Voices film series

Her non-profit, The Hydrous, combines science, design, and technology to provide one-of-a-kind experiential education about marine life. In 2018, Hydrous produced “Immerse 360”, a virtual underwater journey through the coral reefs of Palau, with Dr. Woolsey as a guide.

Viewers got to swim with sharks, manta rays and sea turtles while exploring gorgeous aquatic landscapes and learning about the crucial role our oceans play—all from 360° and 3D footage captured by VRTUL 2 underwater storytelling VR cameras.


Hydrous then expanded on the idea to develop two more exciting augmented adventures using Meta Quest 2 technology: “Expedition Palau,” a live event where audiences can share a “synchronized immersive reality experience”, which includes live narration from Woolsey, and “Explore,” a “CGI experience” to enjoy the magic of the ocean at home.


www.youtube.com

“I’ve been extremely fortunate to explore and study coral reefs around the world,” Woolsey said, sharing that it was “heartbreaking” to see these important habitats decay so rapidly while the latest scientific reports did not clearly lead to widespread compassionate action.

“How do we care about something we never see or experience?” she reflected. As she discovered, virtual reality would be a powerful solution for eliciting empathy. “VR has the ability to generate presence and agency and make you feel like you’re there. It's that emotional connection that can bridge scientific discovery and public understanding”

The combination of virtual reality and the ocean’s natural breathtaking beauty is, as Woolsey puts it, a “match made in heaven” for getting people more engaged in ocean education. “When you’re floating you can look up and down and all around you…seeing a school of fish surrounding you and reefs in these cathedral-like structures. Rather than watching a video of a scientist, you get to become the scientist.”

Hydrous also has special kits to provide middle school students hands-on learning about ocean life. In addition to a journal, activity cards and a smartphone VR viewer, each kit includes lifelike 3D printed model pieces of a coral reef so that middle school students can try building their own.

These reef models even turn white when temperatures rise inside the aquarium, which mimics the real “bleaching” that corals endure when they die due to higher than normal ocean temperatures. Students really do become scientists as they figure out how to bring color back to their reef.

While it’s true that the health of our oceans affects us all, the growing threats our oceans face—pollution, overfishing, climate change—don’t always affect us on an empathetic level. Through the use of technology, Woolsey has created an innovative way to connect hearts and minds to one of the Earth’s most important resources, which can inspire real and lasting change.

“We can’t bring everybody to the ocean, but we’re finding scalable ways to bring the ocean to everyone.”

To learn more about Hydrous, click here.

via UNSW

This article originally appeared on 07.10.21


Dr. Daniel Mansfield and his team at the University of New South Wales in Australia have just made an incredible discovery. While studying a 3,700-year-old tablet from the ancient civilization of Babylon, they found evidence that the Babylonians were doing something astounding: trigonometry!

Most historians have credited the Greeks with creating the study of triangles' sides and angles, but this tablet presents indisputable evidence that the Babylonians were using the technique 1,500 years before the Greeks ever were.


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