Founder of the highly controversial Sci-Hub, Alexandra Elbakyan, has recently pulled access to the research pirate site in Russia. After criticism from Russian scientists, Elbakayan finally pulled the plug on Russia’s access to Sci-Hub after researchers named a new parasitic insect after her.

The so-called “Pirate Bay of science” made its mark in 2011 when Kazakhstan hacked into hundreds of scholarly journals, leaking million documents and illegally allowing the public to freely access scientific papers.

Previously, Elbakyan referred to the internet as a “global brain,” stating that paywalls should not exist in order to provide a free flow of content that can help build society. Now, she has described recent attacks on her as an “extreme injustice,” saying: “If you analyze the situation with scientific publications, the real parasites are scientific publishers, and Sci-Hub, on the contrary, fights for equal access to scientific information.”

This is not the first to Sci-Hub has come under attack. In June 2017, publishing giant Elsevier won a legal judgement against sites like Sci-Hub, awarding the publisher $15 million in damages for copyright infringement. The site is also facing legal action from the American Chemical Society.

(more…)

Improving Access to Clean Water

Access to clean drinking water is something many take for granted. Crises like that of Flint, MI illuminate the fragility of our water infrastructure and how quickly access can be taken away. Even now, hundreds of millions of people around the world still lack access to adequate water.

Gaining access

But it’s not all negative. In the past 25 years, 2.6 billion people worldwide gained access to clean drinking water. This initiative stemmed from part of the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations in 1990, attempting to cut the number of global citizens without access to clean drinking water in half. While this goal was achieved in 2010, there are still about 663 million without proper water and sanitation.

(MORE: Check out powerful images from the Water Front project.)

The divide

So who doesn’t have clean drinking water? Overall, urban areas tend to have greater access due to improved water infrastructure systems set in place. Access in rural areas has improved over the years, but people in these areas are still hit the hardest.

The major divide is most visible when analyzing the numbers by regions. Africa, China, and India are among the hardest hit, making up the majority of the 663 million citizens without access to water.

(more…)