The Media’s Distortion of Beauty

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French breast implant firm link to second company

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/30/french-breast-implant-second-company

Jean-Claude Mas, head of firm at centre of implant scandal, was employed by a new prosthetics company set up by his children

in Paris
guardian.co.uk
, Friday 30 December 2011

The French head of the company at the centre of the international breast implant scare was employed by a second firm making medical prosthetics set up by two of his children.

Jean-Claude Mas, the founder of Poly Implant Protheses (PIP), the firm accused of using cheaper industrial silicone rather than approved medical material in its implants, is listed as a “technical and commercial consultant” to the new company, set up eight months after his own firm was closed down.

According to confidential documents leaked to the French newspaper Nice-Matin, the second company, France Implant Technologie (FIT), was registered in June to Nicolas Lucciardi, 27, and his 24-year-old sister Peggy and registered at the address of their mother, Dominique Lucciardi, Mas’s former partner.

Official company records lodged with the local authorities describe FIT as a “company making medical-surgical and dental material”, but Nice-Matin says the leaked documents it has show the firm’s “business plan” was to make breast implants.

The plan described Mas, 72, as a “creative genius” and says its collaborators have “30 years of experience in the field of quality, research and development, production and commercialisation of breast implants”.

It stated its aim was to produce 400 silicone gel implants every day at the former PIP production site in the south-east of France, to be sold to “the European, South American and Chinese market”. The manufacture of breast implants was due to start in June next year and reach a turnover of €6m (£5m) a year, according to the reports.

Continue reading at:    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/30/french-breast-implant-second-company

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Should the World of Toys Be Gender-Free?

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/opinion/does-stripping-gender-from-toys-really-make-sense.html?_r=1

By PEGGY ORENSTEIN
Published: December 29, 2011

Berkeley, Calif.

NOW that the wrapping paper and the infernal clamshell packaging have been relegated to the curb and the paying off of holiday bills has begun, the toy industry is gearing up — for Christmas 2012. And its early offerings have ignited a new debate over nature, nurture, toys and sex.

Hamleys, which is London’s 251-year-old version of F.A.O. Schwarz, recently dismantled its pink “girls” and blue “boys” sections in favor of a gender-neutral store with red-and-white signage. Rather than floors dedicated to Barbie dolls and action figures, merchandise is now organized by types (Soft Toys) and interests (Outdoor).

That free-to-be gesture was offset by Lego, whose Friends collection, aimed at girls, will hit stores this month with the goal of becoming a holiday must-have by the fall. Set in fictive Heartlake City (and supported by a $40 million marketing campaign), the line features new, pastel-colored, blocks that allow a budding Kardashian, among other things, to build herself a cafe or a beauty salon. Its tasty-sounding “ladyfig” characters are also taller and curvier than the typical Legoland denizen.

So who has it right? Should gender be systematically expunged from playthings? Or is Lego merely being realistic, earnestly meeting girls halfway in an attempt to stoke their interest in engineering?

Among the “10 characteristics for Lego” described in 1963 by a son of the founder was that it was “for girls and for boys,” as Bloomberg Businessweek reported. But the new Friends collection, Lego says, was based on months of anthropological research revealing that — gasp! — the sexes play differently.

While as toddlers they interact similarly with the company’s Duplo blocks, by preschool girls prefer playthings that are pretty, exude “harmony” and allow them to tell a story. They may enjoy building, but they favor role play. So it’s bye-bye Bionicles, hello princesses. In order to be gender-fair, today’s executives insist, they have to be gender-specific.

As any developmental psychologist will tell you, those observations are, to a degree, correct. Toy choice among young children is the Big Kahuna of sex differences, one of the largest across the life span. It transcends not only culture but species: in two separate studies of primates, in 2002 and 2008, researchers found that males gravitated toward stereotypically masculine toys (like cars and balls) while females went ape for dolls. Both sexes, incidentally, appreciated stuffed animals and books.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/30/opinion/does-stripping-gender-from-toys-really-make-sense.html?_r=1

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Norman Lear on fighting the good fight

From The Los Angeles Times:   http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lear-occupy-the-new-year-20111230,0,4956520.story

The Occupy Wall Street movement has unleashed patriotic outrage. If you don’t want to camp out or protest in the street, find another way to let your voice be heard in the new year.

By Norman LearDecember 30, 2011

I was recently shown a picture from one of the Occupy protests taking place across the country. It featured a young woman surrounded by police. She was the only protester in the picture, but she didn’t seem intimidated. All by herself, up against the police barricade, she held a handwritten sign saying simply “I am a born again American.”

I’ve never met this woman, but I think I know exactly what she’s feeling.

I had my first “born again American” moment 30 years ago, when I was moved to outrage and action by a group of hate-preaching televangelists who were trying to claim sole ownership of patriotism, faith and flag for the far right. One of them asked his viewing congregation to pray for the removal of a Supreme Court justice.

I did what I knew how to do and produced a 60-second TV spot. It featured a factory worker whose family members, all Christians, held an array of political beliefs. He didn’t believe that anyone, not even a minister, had a right to judge whether people were good or bad Christians based on their political views. “That’s not the American way,” he wound up saying. I ran it on local TV, and it was picked up by the networks. People For the American Way grew out of the overwhelming response to that ad.

One of the most encouraging things to happen in 2011 was the birth of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is giving the entire country the chance for a “born again American” moment. In calling attention to the country’s widening chasm between rich and poor, the Occupiers have unleashed decades of pent-up patriotic outrage against the systematic violation of our nation’s core principles by the “say good-bye to the middle class” alliance of the neocons, theocons and corporate America.

Continue reading at:   http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-lear-occupy-the-new-year-20111230,0,4956520.story

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Utah Doctors Join “Occupy” Movement

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/27-3

by Brian Moench
Published on Tuesday, December 27, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Taking inspiration from the Occupy Movement, last week a group of doctors and environmental groups in Salt Lake City, Utah announced a law suit against the third largest mining corporation in the world, Rio Tinto, for violating the Clean Air Act in Utah. This is likely the first time ever that physicians have sued industry for harming public health.

Air pollution causes between 1,000 and 2,000 premature deaths every year in Utah. Moreover, medical research in the last ten years has firmly established that air pollution causes the same broad array of diseases well known to result from first and second hand cigarette smoke–strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, virtually every kind of lung disease, neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, loss of intelligence, chromosomal damage, higher rates of diabetes, obesity, adverse birth outcomes and various cancers such as lung cancer, breast cancer and leukemia.

Most of Utah’s cities are in violation of many of the EPA’s national air quality standards, and for several days during a typical winter Utah is plagued by the worst air pollution in the country. The American Lung Association routinely gives Utah’s largest cities an “F” for our air quality. Last February, Forbes magazine, hardly a cheerleader for excessive environmental protection, rated Salt Lake City as the nineth most toxic city in the country, and the biggest contributor to that ranking was the mining and smelting operations at the Bingham Canyon mine, run by London-based mining conglomerate Rio Tinto/Kennecott (RTK).

This mine is the world’s largest man made excavation and has created the largest mining related water pollution problem in the world. The mine is located on the western doorstep of Salt Lake City, home to well over one million people. There is no comparable juxtaposition of an enormous mining operation this close to such a large urban center. RTK’s mine and smelter operations account for 30% of the particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere over Salt Lake County, making it by far the largest source of industrial pollution in the urban areas of Utah.

Continue reading at:    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/27-3

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Obama, Hillary ‘Most Admired’ Of 2011

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Major Ron Paul Supporter Favors Death Penalty for Gays

From Alternet:   http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/153607/major_ron_paul_supporter_favors_death_penalty_for_gays/

Paul’s endorsement from a pastor who wants the death penalty for gays exposes his links to radical Christian Reconstructionists.

By Adele M. Stan
December 29, 2011

At first it seemed like the moment of triumph for the Ron Paul for President campaign. The Texas congressman had won the endorsement of Rev. Phillip G. Kayser, a prominent right-wing Nebraska pastor, just as momentum built toward a possible big win for Paul in next week’s GOP caucuses in neighboring Iowa, where evangelicals comprise a majority of voters.

The campaign issued a press release on Wednesday, lauding Kayser and trumpeting his endorsement, citing “the enlightening statements he makes on how Ron Paul’s approach to government is consistent with Christian beliefs.” Then came word of Kayser’s “Christian belief” in applying the death penalty for gay male sex, and the Paulites got busy scrubbing their press release from the campaign Web site. (The text of the release and a screen shot can be seen on the Web site Outside the Beltway.)

What reporters Pema Levy and Benjy Sarlin of TPM uncovered when they scrolled through Kayser’s writings on his Web site, Biblical Blueprints, were not simply the rantings of a random fringe preacher, but a “blueprint” for the philosophy of Christian Reconstructionism, which seeks to make manifest biblical law as the law of the land. That would include the death penalty not only for the practice of sex between men, but also for adultery and insubordination by children.

Coming on the heels of recent revelations by a former aide that Ron Paul would not use the bathroom in a gay man’s home or shake the hand of a gay supporter, and the homophobic and racist utterances attributed to him in a series of newsletters published under his name in the 1980s and ’90s, news of Kayser’s death-to-the-gays theology was hardly a boon to the campaign.

In one of the many pamphlets authored by Kayser, the TPM reporters unearthed this from a tract on the biblical validity of the death penalty:

It is not just the sinfulness of homosexuality that is known, but also the justice of the death penalty for homosexuality. In verse 32 Paul says, “Who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

The mere threat of the death penalty for the sin of gay sex, Kayser wrote elsewhere, can be “restorative” to those so threatened. When questioned by reporters Sarlin and Levy, Kayser confirmed his beliefs.

Continue reading at:     http://www.alternet.org/teaparty/153607/major_ron_paul_supporter_favors_death_penalty_for_gays/

Perry Pledges To Openly Defy A Supreme Court Decision Striking Down An Anti-Choice ‘Personhood’ Law

From Think Progress:    http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/12/28/395595/perry-pledges-to-openly-defy-a-supreme-court-decision-striking-down-an-anti-choice-personhood-law/

By Ian Millhiser
Dec 28, 2011

At a radio forum sponsored by the anti-abortion and anti-birth control group Personhood USA, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that he would refuse to obey a Supreme Court decisionstriking down the group’s signature anti-choice proposal:

QUESTION: You have agreed to “endorse legislation making clear that Fourteenth Amendment protections apply to unborn children” . . . . What happens if the U.S. Supreme Court attempts to strike down this legislation, and replace it with one of its own edict denying the inalienable right to life for all persons born or unborn? Would you enforce the inalienable right to life or the Court’s opinion as the law?

PERRY: Well, obviously you enforce the right to life opinion.

Perry’s promise to openly defy the Supreme Court is disturbing, but it is also far from original. Fellow candidates Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich have also pledged to treat binding Supreme Court opinions as if they were merely optional, and Gingrich even supports legitimizing his radical view of the Constitution through a campaign of intimidation against judges who disagree with him.

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2011/12/28/395595/perry-pledges-to-openly-defy-a-supreme-court-decision-striking-down-an-anti-choice-personhood-law/

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Chimpanzees seem to know what’s on other chimps’ minds

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/dec/29/chimpanzee-chimps-minds

Humans may not be alone in having insight into the minds of others, a chimpanzee study suggests

, science correspondent
guardian.co.uk
, Thursday 29 December 2011

Chimpanzees moving through the forest take into account other chimps’ ignorance or knowledge of a threat when they raise the alarm.

The apes were more likely to make warning calls when they spotted a venomous snake if others in their troop had not seen the danger, researchers found. As chimps in the know arrived at the scene, they passed the warning on to others who lagged behind but were still within earshot.

Video footage of wild chimps foraging in Uganda’s Budongo forest show apes at the front of their groups jumping with surprise on spotting a model snake lying camouflaged in the undergrowth.

When the chimps regained their composure, they called out with repeated “hoos” to alert those behind them that a threat lay ahead. They made calls less often when other chimps already knew of the danger.

The behaviour suggests the animals knew what their fellow apes knew and made decisions over what warnings to give based on the information.

“Lots of animals give alarm calls and are more likely to do so if there’s an audience, but these chimps are more likely to call if the audience doesn’t know about the danger. It’s as if they’re picking up on differences in ignorance and knowledge in others,” said Dr Catherine Crockford, who studies ape communication and social interaction at the University of St Andrews.

Continue reading at:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2011/dec/29/chimpanzee-chimps-minds

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Cosmetic Animal Testing: The Horrifying Reality

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Leaving Animals Out of the Cosmetics Picture

From The New York Times:      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/fashion/expanding-efforts-to-keep-cosmetics-testing-from-animals.html

Even the ‘cruelty-free’ label doesn’t have a universal meaning.

By ABBY ELLIN
Published: December 28, 2011

THE actress Kristin Bauer, of “True Blood” fame, has an annual ritual when she visits her family home in Racine, Wis.: She takes a black marker and scribbles on the sides of specific products and cosmetics, “Tested on animals.”

“It’s so simple for me: we shouldn’t be torturing another living being for mascara when we don’t have to,” said Ms. Bauer, a vegetarian who lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Abri van Straten, two dogs and two cats. “It seems so odd when you think of shaving cream and a bunny, or mascara and a guinea pig. We’re not saving a life.”

As a spokeswoman for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a nonprofit health organization whose goals include promoting animal-free testing, Ms. Bauer has a mission: to get more people to use makeup and toiletries that have not been tested on rabbits, guinea pigs, mice or rats. And while “cruelty-free” has been a basic mantra of certain earthy lines like Aveda, the Body Shop and Kiss My Face, for decades, it’s increasingly been taken up by new and glamorous proponents.

The models Josie Maran (josiemarancosmetics.com) and Christie Brinkley (christiebrinkleyskincare.com) and the designer Stella McCartney (Care by Stella McCartney) are among those who have started cosmetics lines developed without animal testing.

Companies like Clinique, Tarte and Almay have stopped the practice. Other lesser-known brands, like Pixi, Organic Male OM4 (a skin-care line for men) and Dr.’s Remedy, an all-natural nail polish, never started it.

“It was important for us to know that there would not be any animals harmed in the development or testing of our product,” said the co-founder of Dr.’s Remedy, Adam Cirlincione, a podiatrist in New York.

Consumers seem to agree, said Nancy Beck, a former science and policy adviser for the physicians’ group, who conducted a report on the topic while working there. “Part of it is awareness about the issue in general,” said Dr. Beck, who has a doctorate in microbiology and immunology. “Science has evolved, and we have the technology now that maybe we didn’t have 30 or 40 years ago to do safety assessments without using animals. So having the methods in place, and companies bothering to take the time and making the investment into developing new methods, has a lot to do with it, too.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/29/fashion/expanding-efforts-to-keep-cosmetics-testing-from-animals.html

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Has America’s Stolen Election Process Finally Hit Prime Time?

From Common Dreams:      https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/30-2

by Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman
Published on Friday, December 30, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

It took two stolen US Presidential elections and the prospect of another one coming up in 2012.

For years the Democratic Party and even much of the left press has reacted with scorn for those who’ve reported on it.

But the imperial fraud that has utterly corrupted our electoral process seems finally to be dawning on a broadening core of the American electorate—if it can still be called that.

The shift is highlighted by three major developments:
1. The NAACP goes to the United Nations

In early December, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the largest civil rights organization in America, announced that it was petitioning the United Nations over the orchestrated GOP attack on black and Latino voters.

In its landmark report entitled Defending Democracy: Confronting Modern Barriers to Voting Rights in America, the NAACP directly takes on the new Jim Crow tactics passed in fourteen states that are designed to keep minorities from voting in 2012.

The report analyzes 25 laws that target black, minority and poor voters “unfairly and unnecessarily restrict[ing] the right to vote.” It notes “…a coordinated assault on voting rights.”

Continue reading at:    https://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/12/30-2

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