Archive

April 6th, 2016

Black people have economic leverage

    When several black celebrities refused to attend the Academy Awards this year, their protest was initially dismissed as a futile gesture. Yet their boycott succeeded in exposing Hollywood's subtle but deeply ingrained form of racism.

    There's a lesson to be learned in what the protest of a prominent few can achieve for the many.

    In the past year, Black Lives Matter activists have taken to the streets of Boston, Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and other urban centers to protest the extrajudicial executions of young black men by police who shoot first and fabricate later.

    But, astonishingly, once the blue-curtain coverup gets lifted and the lies are exposed, many mayors and other officials - with the notable exceptions of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton - express a shallow remorse and offer hollow promises to improve transparency and accountability. Little changes. Black bodies continue to pile up.

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April 5th

A year later, no justice for Farkhunda

    On March 19, 2015, Farkhunda Malikzada was murdered by a mob of angry Afghan men because a local religious cleric had falsely accused her of burning the Quran. The crowd threw stones at her, drove over her body, and set her on fire. On the day she died, Farkhunda had no protection from the state or those around her. The struggle to achieve justice for her has become a sign of the struggle to protect the rights of women throughout Afghanistan. Like many Afghan activists, I have spent the last year attending protests and writing about and working with local organizations to advocate for justice for Farkhunda. When we began speaking out along with thousands of Afghans around the world, we hoped that Farkhunda's murderers would be brought to justice and that her case would set a precedent for the legal system to protect the safety and rights of Afghan women. But a year later, the lack of justice has had significant implications for women's rights in Afghanistan, where the majority of perpetrators of violence against women never face legal repercussions. The government's failure to maintain justice has emboldened criminals and left Afghan women more vulnerable to violence.

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Why I'm teaching my 6-year-old to meditate

    My teenage years weren't the easiest. I struggled with popularity (or lack thereof), bad skin and what I was convinced at the time was irreparable heartbreak. No one understood me - especially not my parents. I was 15 when "Smells Like Teen Spirit" hit the radio, and while I didn't exactly understand the lyrics, I was convinced Kurt Cobain had stumbled across my own indefinable, adolescent malaise.

    In many ways, however, I was lucky. I had a few close friends and together we were a teenage army, protecting each other against rivals, rebuilding each other after battles at home. When alone, I had other coping mechanisms: I wrote maudlin poetry, read constantly, and mass-generated mix tapes to match my moods. Perhaps more important were the things I didn't have: namely, social media and the Internet. Public humiliation had its limits. Personal failures had a shelf life.

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US leads the world in advancing women's soccer, but it can do much better

    Both sides in the U.S. women's soccer team's labor dispute, which entered the national spotlight Thursday with a wage discrimination claim filed by five players, will make their cases in the courts of law and public opinion in the coming weeks and months. There will be a blizzard of numbers, but this much is clear:

    The U.S. Soccer Federation has been very good to the women's game.

    It also can do a whole lot better.

    A quarter-century ago, when most of the world sneered at women's soccer, the USSF created platforms for both young female players just looking to play and elite players looking to conquer the world. Was it equal to efforts for men's soccer? No way. But it was a start.

    Hosting the 1999 Women's World Cup and, against common sense, staging the games in large stadiums, turned a competition that averaged 4,315 fans per game four years earlier in Sweden into a global event. Attendance grew by ninefold and, for the final at the sold-out Rose Bowl, the largest crowd for a women's sporting event in global history turned out.

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Trump, Truth, and Abortion

    Maybe Donald Trump did everyone a favor with his famous jail-the-women comment. When he blurted out that “there has to be some form of punishment” for anyone who has an abortion, he blew the cover off the carefully constructed public face of the anti-choice movement.

    Let’s take a look.

    There’s no reason to imagine Trump ever gave a millisecond of thought to the details of abortion policy until he got trapped in that merciless interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC. There are certain right-wing tropes that he just grabbed onto when he started his presidential run. One is that whenever the topic comes up, he’s supposed to announce he’s “pro-life.”

    “I know,” Matthews followed up, adding, “But what should be the law?”

    Trump babbled about totally unrelated topics, but Matthews, cruel man, pressed onward: “If you say abortion is a crime or abortion is murder, you have to deal with it under law. Should abortion be punished?”

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'Trump Republican' is a seriously damaged brand

    Donald Trump is taking a troubled brand -- the Republican Party -- and making it worse.

    In last week's Bloomberg Politics national survey, 60 percent of Americans said they had an unfavorable view of Republicans, the highest level in seven years. Since 2009, when this survey began, a plurality of the public has regarded the party with disfavor, but over the past several months the gap has widened. Only 33 percent rate Republicans favorably now.

    There is a consensus among many Republican strategists, pollsters and politicians that Trump, with his exclusionary politics, harsh oratory and fondness for personal insult, has hurt the party's image.

    "This absolutely is hurting our brand," says former Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine. "The question is how we unravel going forward. I fear the effects could be long-lasting. It's tragic."

    Some blame the Trump phenomenon on cable and broadcast television networks, saying they have abandoned their standards of newsworthiness to attract the big audiences he commands.

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Just Wondering

    It is fair to wonder if all those men so eager to protect women in their healthcare are as eager to help in other matters.  Do they do their share of the household responsibility?  Do they change the diapers of those babies they are so eager to have born?

    They certainly don't appear to be that eager about seeing that women get equal pay for comparable work.  It they were so concerned about fairness (as concerns women as they are for the "unborn") would not they be equally concerned that it is near mid-April before women's paychecks reach what men in comparable positions make by December 31 of the previous year?

    Nor has there been a rush for legislation requiring release of  information that would allow all to know of the discrepancy in pay.  Think Lilly Ledbetter who only found out how she had been cheated for years when some one slipped her an anonymous note.

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Is it time to set up checkpoints outside airports?

    The terrorist attack on Belgium last week caused some European security officials to reconsider strategies for protecting air travelers, including the idea that perhaps the checkpoint perimeter should be moved further out to airport entrances or beyond.

    It's a discussion that should happen here too.

    The idea that many countries are risking disaster by not setting up checkpoints at the entrances or even on the outskirts of an airport came from Pini Schiff, the former security chief at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport and now the chief executive of the Israel Security Association, an organization that provides security for companies and government offices.

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Indiana's new abortion law won't save babies. It will only make my patients suffer.

    Even after years of education, training and experience as an obstetrician/gynecologist, I am never prepared to deliver the news that a pregnancy is abnormal. There is no good way to tell a pregnant woman - a woman who may already be wearing maternity clothes, thinking about names and decorating the nursery - that we have identified a fetal anomaly that can lead to significant, lifelong disability or even her baby's death.

    In such situations, physicians have two responsibilities. First, we must always be supportive of the mother or family who has suddenly been confronted with the loss of an imagined ideal pregnancy and child. And second, we help them understand that they have options, one of which is the termination of the pregnancy.

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Five myths about bicycling

    Each year, 100 million Americans jump on a bicycle at least once, especially when the weather gets warm. Some of these pedalers are recreational riders; others rely on their bikes for transportation to and from work. In the past few years, cities have rushed to accommodate such travelers: Scores of bike lanes and bike-share programs have popped up. But there are still a lot of misconceptions about getting around on two wheels. As the number of cyclists rises, it's important to keep in mind some truths about who they are, how they behave and what impact they have on the space around us.

    1. Mandating helmet use is the best way to keep riders safe.

    There's no doubt about it: Helmets save lives. Studies show they reduce the risk of cyclist head injury by 85 percent. Recently, bike advocates such as Greg Kaplan have argued that riding without a helmet should be illegal. "Wearing a helmet while riding a bike is analogous to wearing a seatbelt while driving," he wrote in Bicycling magazine.

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