Enforcing school dress codes teaches girls to be ashamed, not ‘modest’

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/21/school-dress-codes-girls-shame-modesty

Dress codes assume that male students’ education needs to be protected. What girls need doesn’t rate

theguardian.com, Wednesday 21 May 2014

Now that the warm weather is here, everyone is happily boxing away sweaters and breaking out their summer clothes. But as students across the country are bringing out their t-shirts and dresses, school administrators are ramping up their efforts to quash cleavage and “risqué” outfits.

According to educators and even some parents, young women’s outfits – their bodies, really – are too distracting for men to be expected to comport themselves with dignity and respect. It’s the season of the dress code – so instead of teaching girls math or literature, schools are enforcing arbitrary and sexist rules that teach them to be ashamed of their bodies.

Take the example of a young woman in Virginia who was kicked out of her prom this month because fathers attending the event though her dress was giving rise to “impure thoughts”. Clare, 17, says her dress was well within guidelines for the event’s dress code – it was “fingertip length”. She wrote on her sister’s blog, “I even tried it on with my shoes, just to be sure.”

Still, she was asked to leave – thanks to a group of ogling dads perched on a balcony above the dance floor. “I am so tired of people who abuse their power to make women feel violated and ashamed because she has an ass, or has breasts, or has long legs,” she wrote

It’s not just proms that make for problematic interactions for young women. Everyday school dress codes disproportionately target, shame, and punish girls – especially girls who are more developed than their peers. In 2012, students at Stuyvesant High School in New York (my old school) protested the biased implementation of the school’s dress code. One student noted that the “curvier” girls were singled out – a v-neck t-shirt considered acceptable on one student was seen as absolutely scandalous on another.

Like the fathers at Clare’s prom, Stuyvesant administrators defended the sexist dress code by saying girls shorts and spaghetti strap tank tops are “distracting” to male students and teachers. This is a common theme when policing the way women dress – just last month a junior high school in Illinois banned girls wearing leggings because they’re “distracting to boys”.

To assuage the supposed distraction, girls caught wearing leggings are forced to put on blue school shorts over them. At Stuyvesant, dress code violators are pulled out of class and made to change into a large baggy shirt. (There are dress codes for boys, but they’re not as frequently enforced and all a male student generally has to do is keep his pants up and t-shirts referencing drugs inside-out.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/may/21/school-dress-codes-girls-shame-modesty

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Obama Administration Pushing Local Cops To Stay Mum On Surveillance

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/12/obama-local-police-surveillance_n_5489706.html

Posted: 06/12/2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration has been quietly advising local police not to disclose details about surveillance technology they are using to sweep up basic cellphone data from entire neighborhoods, The Associated Press has learned.

Citing security reasons, the U.S. has intervened in routine state public records cases and criminal trials regarding use of the technology. This has resulted in police departments withholding materials or heavily censoring documents in rare instances when they disclose any about the purchase and use of such powerful surveillance equipment.

Federal involvement in local open records proceedings is unusual. It comes at a time when President Barack Obama has said he welcomes a debate on government surveillance and called for more transparency about spying in the wake of disclosures about classified federal surveillance programs.

One well-known type of this surveillance equipment is known as a Stingray, an innovative way for law enforcement to track cellphones used by suspects and gather evidence. The equipment tricks cellphones into identifying some of their owners’ account information, like a unique subscriber number, and transmitting data to police as if it were a phone company’s tower. That allows police to obtain cellphone information without having to ask for help from service providers, such as Verizon or AT&T, and can locate a phone without the user even making a call or sending a text message.

But without more details about how the technology works and under what circumstances it’s used, it’s unclear whether the technology might violate a person’s constitutional rights or whether it’s a good investment of taxpayer dollars.

Interviews, court records and public-records requests show the Obama administration is asking agencies to withhold common information about the equipment, such as how the technology is used and how to turn it on. That pushback has come in the form of FBI affidavits and consultation in local criminal cases.

“These extreme secrecy efforts are in relation to very controversial, local government surveillance practices using highly invasive technology,” said Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, which has fought for the release of these types of records. “If public participation means anything, people should have the facts about what the government is doing to them.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/12/obama-local-police-surveillance_n_5489706.html

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The Catholic Irish babies scandal: It gets much worse

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/09/the_catholic_irish_babies_scandal_it_gets_much_worse/

New revelations about unauthorized vaccine trials

Monday, Jun 9, 2014

It gets worse. One week after revelations of how over the span of 35 years, a County Galway home for unwed mothers cavalierly disposed of the bodies of nearly 800 babies and toddlers on a site that held a septic tank, new reports are leveling a whole different set of charges about what happened to the children of those Irish homes.

In harrowing new information revealed this weekend, the Daily Mail has uncovered medical records that suggest 2,051 children across several Irish care homes were given a diphtheria vaccine from pharmaceutical company Burroughs Wellcome in a suspected illegal drug trial that ran from 1930 to 1936. As the Mail reports, “Michael Dwyer, of Cork University’s School of History, found the child vaccination data by trawling through tens of thousands of medical journal articles and archive files. He discovered that the trials were carried out before the vaccine was made available for commercial use in the UK.”  There is no evidence yet – and there may never be – that any family consent was ever offered, or about how many children had adverse effects or died as a result of the vaccinations. Dwyer told the Mail, “The fact that no record of these trials can be found in the files relating to the Department of Local Government and Public Health, the Municipal Health Reports relating to Cork and Dublin, or the Wellcome Archives in London, suggests that vaccine trials would not have been acceptable to government, municipal authorities, or the general public. However, the fact that reports of these trials were published in the most prestigious medical journals suggests that this type of human experimentation was largely accepted by medical practitioners and facilitated by authorities in charge of children’s residential institutions.” In a related story, GSK — formerly Wellcome — revealed Monday on Newstalk Radio that 298 children in 10 different care homes were involved in medical trials in the ’60s and ’70s that left “80 children ill after they were accidentally administered a vaccine intended for cattle.”

Irish Minister of State for Training and Skills Ciaran Cannon has called for a public inquiry into the treatment of the children and their deaths.  The archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has also called for an investigation, adding that it should be free of Catholic Church interference. “We have to look at the whole culture of mother and baby homes; they’re talking about medical experiments there,” he told RTE Radio this weekend. “They’re very complicated and very sensitive issues, but the only way we will come out of this particular period of our history is when the truth comes out.” And a spokesman for GSK said the latest revelations, “if true, are clearly very distressing.” 

This is not even the first time information on these kinds of vaccine trials has come to light. In 2010, the Irish Independent uncovered how children born in the homes were subjected to a single “four-in-one” vaccine trial without their mothers’ permission. The children often didn’t even know what they’d been subjected to until well into adulthood. Appallingly,  Ireland had no laws regarding medical testing on humans until 1987. Mari Steed, who was born at the Bessborough home in the ’60s, told the Sunday Independent, “We were used as human guinea pigs.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/06/09/the_catholic_irish_babies_scandal_it_gets_much_worse/

See Also:

The pathetic scramble to rationalize the Irish babies scandal

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Pope Francis Is Wrong About My Child-Free Life

From The Daily Beast:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/06/pope-francis-is-wrong-about-my-child-free-life.html


The pope may pooh-pooh the decision to remain childless, but the world needs more people who choose pets over kids.

Pope Francis came into office on a wave of hope that finally the world would have a progressive pope instead of the string of throwbacks with retrograde ideas who had come before. He’s since then been busy dashing those hopes, one speech at a time, demonstrating that he has zero intention of actually bothering to learn about people’s real lives and needs before telling them how to live their lives. Now he’s moved on to picking on childless couples, with a little extra shade thrown at pet ownership. Oh goody, just in time for Adopt-A-Cat Month.

Speaking from his home in the Vatican on Monday, Pope Francis warmed up by shaming people for enjoying their lives. “This culture of well-being from 10 years ago convinced us: It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free.” Then he dragged Fido into, griping, “Maybe it is better, more convenient, to have a little dog, two cats; and the love goes to the two cats and the little dog.”

Then came the warning of the miseries that await you foolish vacation-having cat owners if you don’t get with the “fruitful” marriage: “Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.” Ah yes, the threat wielded against the deliberately childless since time immemorial: Conform or you will regret it!

My first instinct, as a deliberately childless person myself, upon reading Pope Francis’s remarks was to think, “If you think having children is so important, then why don’t you go first?” But while sarcasm is a satisfying hobby, it’s perhaps better to look to empirical science to answer the question of whether or not it’s actually true that childless people will be punished with loveless marriages and age into loneliness.

Luckily, there’s been a lot of research into both those questions. In fact, the question of whether or not having kids makes marriages happier or not is one that has been looked at again and again, to the point where you start to wonder if they’re trying to get a different result this time. The answer keeps coming back the same: Childless couples have happier marriages, on average.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/06/06/pope-francis-is-wrong-about-my-child-free-life.html

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Economist Thomas Piketty: One of the benefits of civilization should be working less

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/03/economist-thomas-piketty-one-of-the-benefits-of-civilization-should-be-working-less/

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

French economist Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, appeared on Monday night’s edition of “The Colbert Report.” Piketty told Colbert that inequality is bad for society as a whole and that one of the goals of civilization should be for people to have a better chance at happiness and fulfillment.

“Why are you trying to tear down the Western economic system and replace it with the socialist redistribution of wealth?” asked Colbert.

“I’m not trying to do that,” replied Piketty in heavily accented English.

“Your accent sounds like you are,” Colbert countered.

Piketty said that globalization, as much as possible, should benefit all of society, not just the people and companies at the top of the ladder.

“We want people to have access to skills and education and jobs,” he continued.

“In Europe, many people believe that one of the purposes of civilization is to work less, have more vacation and take care of your kids and friends and family,” Piketty said. “You can make a different choice and that’s fine.”

“You can make a different choice,” said Colbert, “and be a world superpower.”

See video at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/06/03/economist-thomas-piketty-one-of-the-benefits-of-civilization-should-be-working-less/

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