Just because I omitted political news in this report doesn’t mean all the news is upbeat. We still have drought, crime, conspiracy, death, and misogyny—but there’s also cultural diversity, art, and music. Plus one eye-spinning question about R Kelly. Here’s an eclectic assortment of stories to carry us into the weekend.

Flying colours: Photo Basel 2021 gets vibrant – in pictures — The Guardian

Switzerland’s first and only art fair dedicated to photography is back with vivid images of fairytales, fabrics and firepower”

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Vanja Bučan, Oasis, 2019
In the series Sequences of Truth and Deception (2015–2019), Bučan explores our ambivalent relationship to nature characterised by domination, exploration and, paradoxically, its idealisation. In these anonymous portraits and still lifes, Bučan strives to create a complex, deconstructed vision of nature; playful sketches of our conditional and ‘exotic’ love of nature – in contrast to the incessant pollution inflicted on our planet by the contemporary way of life.  Photograph: Courtesy Galerija Fotografija, Ljubjana

Don’t mess with Australia— Merkel was bitten by these rainbow lorikeets 

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Latinos own and disown ‘Hispanic’ in journey to harness identity — NBC News

As Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off, Latinos grapple with the decades long debate on whether or not the pan-ethnic terms that exist to identify their communities truly represent their lived experiences. […]

The term Hispanic first emerged in the 1960s when Puerto Rican civil rights groups and others such as the National Council of La Raza, now called UnidosUS, advocated for a way to count people who could trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries in Latin America, the Caribbean or Spain in order to identify specific needs and fight for policies that could improve their livelihoods. […]

Alternate terms for Hispanic have become crucial for Latinos such as Alfredo Corona, who wanted to shy away from the original term. Corona, 26, said he does “not really like to use terms like Hispanic and Latino too much,” which implicitly anchor the ethnic identity to Latin America’s colonial period when mixing occurred among Indigenous people, white Europeans, Black slaves from Africa, and Asians. Instead, he prefers to identify as Chicano, a term popularized by people of Mexican descent born in the U.S. during the 1960s, since it adds value to his indigenous roots while also acknowledging his American upbringing.

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Ahem – I could cite usernames that wouldn’t be unknown here

It’s shocking to see so many leftwingers lured to the far right by conspiracy theories — The Guardian

It’s an uncomfortable thing to admit, but in the countercultural movements where my sympathies lie, people are dropping like flies. Every few days I hear of another acquaintance who has become seriously ill with Covid, after proudly proclaiming the benefits of “natural immunity”, denouncing vaccines and refusing to take the precautions that apply to lesser mortals. Some have been hospitalised. Within these circles, which have for so long sought to cultivate a good society, there are people actively threatening the lives of others.

It’s not just anti-vax beliefs that have been spreading through these movements. On an almost daily basis I see conspiracy theories travelling smoothly from right to left. I hear right-on people mouthing the claims of white supremacists, apparently in total ignorance of their origins. I encounter hippies who once sought to build communities sharing the memes of extreme individualism. Something has gone badly wrong in parts of the alternative scene.

Melvin Van Peebles, Influential Director, Actor and Writer, Dies at 89 — Variety

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Taking the ‘Shame Part’ Out of Female Anatomy — NY Times ($)

one day she looked up the pudendal nerve, which provides sensation to the vagina and vulva, or outer female genitalia. The term derived from the Latin verb pudere: to be ashamed. The shame nerve, Ms. Draper noted: “I was like, What? Excuse me?”

It grew worse. When her teacher handed her a copy of the “Terminologia Anatomica,” the international dictionary of anatomical terms, she learned that the Latin term for the vulva — including the inner and outer labia, the clitoris and the pubic mound — was pudendum. Translation: the part to be ashamed of. There was no equivalent word for male genitals.

That’s when she really got fired up.

The city that cars leave us — an illustration by Karl Jilg

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A new category of bad behavior is one result of the pandemic

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Eye roll so strong I almost fell over backwards

”R Kelly’s lawyer has compared him to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr in the closing argument of the singer’s sex-trafficking trial. Deveraux Cannick said both men held the government to account and he urged jurors to be courageous.”

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As California’s drought deepens, water use drops only 1.8% — Cal Matters

Californians reduced their water use at home by a meager 1.8% statewide in July compared to last year, even after Gov. Gavin Newsom urged residents to conserve 15% and drought continues to spread across the state.

Officials today warned water providers south of the Delta who rely on state water allocations — already slashed to 5% this year — to brace for the possibility of zero supply next year. […]

The biggest drops in household water use were along the hard-hit North Coast, with a nearly 17% reduction in July 2021 compared with July 2020. The Sonoma County city of Healdsburg led the state by cutting its water use by more than half, and Cloverdale, which reduced its use by 37%. Both cities enacted mandatory water use restrictions.

Water use in the South Coast region, which includes Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego and Ventura counties, was roughly even with last summer, down 0.1%. However, about 40% of water suppliers in the area actually used more water.

WOW WHO

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That Comment Someone Left on Facebook? It Can Get You Sued. — NY Times ($)

Australia’s top court has said media companies can be held liable for replies to their posts, prompting some to step back from the platform. […]

Facebook has added a feature that allows a page administrator to entirely turn off comments on a post. But Mr. Earley said the platform had been reluctant to offer more finely tuned options for moderation because comments drive engagement — a key to Facebook’s business model. […]

The ruling extends liability for user comments to anyone with a public Facebook page, not just news outlets. For example, the administrator of a Facebook community could be sued for comments left under a post, even if the administrator was unaware of them.

Yesterday

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