from the world's big
Rachel Sterne Retraces Her Steps
Question: Where did you get the idea for GroundReport?
Rachel Sterne: It was inspired over a long period of time first by my work as a political intern at the US mission to the United Nations which I'd initially wanted to work directly for the UN but instead got an internship with the state department which ultimately was probably more access than I ever could have dreamed of in any role because of the incredible sort of influence of the US and so I was reporting daily on security council sessions which are confidential or close sessions basically, all the top ambassadors of the 10 members of the security council and watching first hand as foreign policy was made and basically the biggest issues in the world were debated and decided, here's what we are going to do. The Security Council is really the decision making arm of the UN, the only one that really carries weight and is able to carry out their actions. The issues at the time, some of the issues that I was covering was Haiti, the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri and the Darfur crisis was really at its peak. It was really getting really bad.
There was one day when then a secretary general Kofi Annan came into the council and addressed the council and basically, and basically sort of begged all members to do something, he said it is completely out of control and it really struck me and the thing that really bothered me it was the fact that even though the U.S. had been one of the first to call it out as genocide, the Darfur crisis, we didn't really pledge anything beyond saying that. We didn't pledge any concrete action which if we had, knowing the dynamics of the security council, our allies probably would have responded 10 or a hundred-fold in supporting us and that was something that really troubled me.
One of the quotes that Kofi Annan used at the time was that the role of the UN is not to bring humanity up into heaven but prevent it from descending into hell and that was what is happening there.
So I ended the internship at the term when it was done and it was a fantastic experience but I said, I need to be in the space where there is more innovation where things are more dynamic because there is just so much bureaucracy, sort of holding back that kind of innovation and I went to work for Limewire which is a file-sharing platform which is totally different, but what was interesting to me was there I was helping them re-launch their websites and learning all about these really cheap but very powerful publishing tools and I realize, we could start to address this problem that had really plagued me at the UN which is that we can allow people to really know what's going on in the world because if the public is more informed, they can put more pressure on their governments to make responsible policy decisions and I feel very strongly about that.
I do believe that and so the idea I had was instead of having this dry wire reports, why don't we let people who are actually there experiencing these things, this terrible atrocities or these wonderful events to in their own voice report the news or take a photo or publish a video and we'll aggregate it all together and we'll vet it with our editors and we'll make sure that it's, that we're giving everyone a chance to share their voice and reach this global audience and that was how the idea for GroundReport was born.
The funny thing is that, I had always wanted to do a job where I can do both international relations and technology and web stuff and so I'm sort of like a geek on one end but I majored in history on the other end and three or four years ago, none of these jobs existed and now of course all this projects are exploding all over the internet and GroundReport was just in its infancy when this happens. So I basically made it up because it didn't exist.
Recorded on: June 12, 2009
GroundReport came out of the founder’s time at the U.S. mission to the U.N.
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Gender and sexual minority populations are experiencing rising anxiety and depression rates during the pandemic.
- Anxiety and depression rates are spiking in the LGBTQ+ community, and especially in individuals who hadn't struggled with those issues in the past.
- Overall, depression increased by an average PHQ-9 score of 1.21 and anxiety increased by an average GAD-7 score of 3.11.
- The researchers recommended that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.
Study findings<p>For the study, <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11606-020-05970-4" target="_blank">published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine</a><em>, </em>Flentje and her team evaluated survey responses from nearly 2,300 individuals who identified as being in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) community. Most of the participants were white, while nearly 19 percent identified as a racial or ethnic minority. Multiple genders were represented with cisgender women (27.2 percent) and men (24.6 percent) making up a majority of the participants. Sixty-three percent had been assigned female at birth. For the most part, participants identified their sexual orientations as queer (40.3 percent), gay (36.5 percent), and bisexual (30.3 percent).</p><p>The JGIM study participants were recruited from the 18,000-participant <a href="https://pridestudy.org/" target="_blank">PRIDE Study</a> (Population Research in Identity and Disparities for Equality), which is the first large-scale, long-term national study focusing on American adults who identify as LGBTQ+. It conducts annual questionnaires to understand factors related to health and disease in this population. </p><p>Participants filled out an annual questionnaire (starting in June 2019) and a COVID-19 impact survey this past spring. Flentje noted that on an individual level, some people may not have experienced a big change in anxiety or depression levels, but for others there was. Overall, depression increased by a <a href="https://patient.info/doctor/patient-health-questionnaire-phq-9" target="_blank">PHQ-9 score</a> of 1.21, putting it at 8.31 on average. Anxiety went up by a <a href="https://www.mdcalc.com/gad-7-general-anxiety-disorder-7" target="_blank">GAD-7</a> score of 3.11 to an average of 8.89. Interestingly, the average PHQ-9 scores for those who screened positive for depression at the first 2019 survey decreased by 1.08. Those who screened negative for depression saw their PHQ-9 scores increase by 2.17 on average. As for anxiety, researchers detected no GAD-7 change among the study participants who screened positive for anxiety in the first survey, but did see an overall increase of 3.93 among those who had initially been evaluated as negative for the disorder. </p>
Risks among gender and sexual minorities<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fc3fd1ae68b77bbbf58a6995638d6d65"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/EnUqDjCqg0A?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The LGBTQ+ community is a vulnerable population to mental health concerns because of their fear of stigmatization and previous discriminatory experiences.</p> <p>Previous research by the Human Rights Campaign has found "that LGBTQ Americans are more likely than the <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/general+population/" target="_blank">general population</a> to live in poverty and lack access to adequate medical care, paid <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/medical+leave/" target="_blank">medical leave</a>, and basic necessities during the pandemic," said researcher Tari Hanneman, director of the health and aging program at the campaign.</p> <p>"Therefore, it is not surprising to see this increase in anxiety and depression among this population," Hanneman said in the release. "This study highlights the need for <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/health+care+professionals/" target="_blank">health care professionals</a> to support, affirm and provide <a href="https://medicalxpress.com/tags/critical+care/" target="_blank">critical care</a> for the LGBTQ community to manage and maintain their mental health, as well as their physical health, during this pandemic."</p>
What should health care providers do?<p>The authors of the study recommend that health care providers check in with LGBTQ+ patients about stress and screen for mood and anxiety disorders in members of that community—even among those with no prior history of anxiety or depression.</p><p>As cases of COVID-19 continue to mount, the sustained social distancing, potential isolation, economic precariousness, and personal illness, grief, and loss are bound to have increased and varied impacts on mental health. Effective treatments may include individual therapy and medications as well as more large-scale coronavirus support programs like peer-led groups and mindfulness practices. </p><p>"It will be important to find out what happens over time and to identify who is most at risk, so we can be sure to roll out public health interventions to support the mental health of our communities in the best and most effective ways," said Flentje.</p>
What we know about black holes is both fascinating and scary.
- When it comes to black holes, science simultaneously knows so much and so little, which is why they are so fascinating. Focusing on what we do know, this group of astronomers, educators, and physicists share some of the most incredible facts about the powerful and mysterious objects.
- A black hole is so massive that light (and anything else it swallows) can't escape, says Bill Nye. You can't see a black hole, theoretical physicists Michio Kaku and Christophe Galfard explain, because it is too dark. What you can see, however, is the distortion of light around it caused by its extreme gravity.
- Explaining one unsettling concept from astrophysics called spaghettification, astronomer Michelle Thaller says that "If you got close to a black hole there would be tides over your body that small that would rip you apart into basically a strand of spaghetti that would fall down the black hole."
The team caught a glimpse of a process that takes 18,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years.
- In Italy, a team of scientists is using a highly sophisticated detector to hunt for dark matter.
- The team observed an ultra-rare particle interaction that reveals the half-life of a xenon-124 atom to be 18 sextillion years.
- The half-life of a process is how long it takes for half of the radioactive nuclei present in a sample to decay.
A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".