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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 06:34 PM
Number of posts: 3,916

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

'I thought I was a free man': the engineer fighting Texas's ban on boycotting Israel

For more than two decades, Texan civil engineer Rasmy Hassouna was a contractor for the city of Houston. Hassouna has consulted the city on soil volatility in the nearby Gulf of Mexico – a much needed service to evaluate the structural stability of houses and other buildings.

He was gearing up to renew his government contract when a particular legal clause caught his eye: a provision that effectively banned him or his company, A&R Engineering and Testing, Inc, from ever protesting the nation of Israel or its products so long as his company was a partner with the city of Houston.

For Hassouna – a 59-year-old proud Palestinian American – it was a huge shock.

“I came here and thought I was a free man. It’s not anybody’s business what I do or what I say, as long as I’m not harming anybody,” he told the Guardian. “Were you lying all this time? If I don’t want to buy anything at WalMart, who are you to tell me not to shop at WalMart? Why do I have to pledge allegiance to a foreign country?”

But Hassouna’s reaction did not stop at anger. He took action, launching a case that is challenging the Texas law and – by example – similar provisions that have spread all over the US that seek to stop government contractors from boycotting Israel and can be found in more than 25 US states. Along with the Arkansas Times newspaper, A&R Engineering and Testing Inc is now one of only two companies fighting this kind of law in the nation.


'A dog whistle and a lie': Black parents on the critical race theory debate

During Virginia’s governor’s race this year, Rakelle Mullenix read and watched countless news stories about the fervor among parents over the teaching of critical race theory and about racism in local schools. “I was addicted to the coverage,” says the 46-year-old mother of two from Annandale, Va.

And there was so much of it, from the commercial featuring a mother saying that her son was brought to tears when he had to read a book (it’s not named in the ad, but she’s referencing “Beloved,” Toni Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about formerly enslaved people), to footage of angry parents besieging Loudoun County School Board meetings over the theory’s alleged inclusion in curriculum, to debate on whether children are too young to learn about racism or discuss race at all.

Mullenix read and watched it all. But she says that in the media discussion of how Black parents and their stories fit into what children learn about American history, she didn’t see actual Black parents, like herself.

“It seems as though Black and Brown voices were ignored, and the voices were centered on White parents and their concerns,” Mullenix says. “I’m constantly hearing, ‘Oh, no, suburban women, suburban moms and their vote.' And when I look around me and see these suburban moms and housewives, a lot of them look like me. But when I hear the conversations on the news, it doesn’t sound like they’re talking about me.”


Oxford district declined offer to launch independent review into school shooting, Michigan AG says

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said late Monday that Oxford school officials have declined her offer to lead an independent review of facts leading up to the Nov. 30 shooting that left four students dead.

She is not happy with the decision.

"We had heard that the Oxford School District had indicated that they wanted a third party to review the policies and protocols that were in place and, really, the events leading up to the acts of November 30 and what happened during the course of the events. So I offered my department," Nessel told CNN host Don Lemon.

"I thought, 'What better agency to conduct a special review than the Michigan Department of Attorney General?' We learned, just a short while ago, that the school district has turned down our offer and it said they're going to go with a private security firm instead to conduct an internal review."

These people are gonna get their asses sued off them.

Tackle maternal health disparities, mortality with data and better care

I’ve been working to expand access to affordable health coverage for children and families for more than two decades. After the birth of my daughter, I heard with different ears the story of my own birth – the nurses sent my dad home “to rest” and left my mother laboring overnight without checking on her because they didn’t want “to disturb the doctor on Sunday.”

I realize now how my or my mother’s life could have ended in tragedy. When a family member of mine recently experienced a stillbirth, I knew well that the health care system might have contributed to her personal heartbreak and how far we need to go to address maternal and child health outcomes. And as a mother, I am reminded that my risk of dying in childbirth is more than three times the risk for a woman with the same education, income level and insurance – just because I’m a Black woman.

What I’ve experienced personally is a symptom of our country’s devastating racial and ethnic disparities in maternal health outcomes. The United States has the worst maternal mortality rate among industrialized countries. American Indian/Alaska Native and Black women are two to three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause than white women. And two out of three pregnancy-related deaths in this country are preventable.

On Tuesday, under the leadership of Vice President Kamala Harris, the White House is convening a nationwide Maternal Health Day of Action. The vice president, White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra have a longstanding commitment to addressing maternal health disparities. We are using all the tools at our disposal to effect change.

Very good story but mortality and complications are also high for poor and underserved white women (I know this because I worked briefly in neonatal in Appalachia).

Climate change: Is 'blue hydrogen' Japan's answer to coal?

It's a glorious autumn afternoon and I'm standing on a hillside looking out over Tokyo Bay. Beside me is Takao Saiki, a usually mild-mannered gentleman in his 70s.

But today Saiki-San is angry.

"It's a total joke," he says, in perfect English. "Just ridiculous!"

The cause of his distress is a giant construction site blocking our view across the bay - a 1.3-gigawatt coal-fired power station in the making.

"I don't understand why we still have to burn coal to generate electricity," says Saiki-San's friend, Rikuro Suzuki. "This plant alone will emit more than seven million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year!"

Suzuki-San's point is a good one. Shouldn't Japan be cutting its coal consumption, not increasing it, at a time of great concern about coal's impact on the climate?

So why the coal? The answer is the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.


Fed up with racist slurs and bullying, some students are walking out

Some Black students are being told they stink while others are being called monkeys by their White peers. The n-word has been written on the walls of school restrooms as other students are the targets of racist rants on social media.

Students of color are facing racial slurs and bullying in and outside the classroom, and many who are fed up have been walking out of class, speaking at board meetings and even suing school districts.

In Minnesota, a 14-year-old Black girl spoke in front of a crowd to condemn a video widely shared online that she said encouraged her to take her own life. Meanwhile, a community in Utah is scrutinizing a school district after the family of a Black and autistic student said she was bullied by classmates before dying by suicide.

As some lawmakers and parents attempt to limit teachings about racism and schools' diversity and inclusion efforts are met with protests, numerous reports of racist bullying have recently surfaced in classrooms from coast to coast.

"It's everywhere, it's not a new thing. This isn't something that is just now happening. It's just now getting attention, more than it has (gotten) before," Sean Sorkoram, a high school student in Tigard, Oregon, who was part of a walkout on Wednesday, told CNN affiliate KPTV.

The kids are all right. Some of the adults, not so much.

The case against Ethan Crumbley's parents is about more than gun access

On Friday, Oakland County, Michigan prosecutor Karen McDonald filed four counts of involuntary manslaughter against James and Jennifer Crumbley. The Crumbley’s 15-year-old son Ethan is the main suspect in a shooting on Tuesday that left four students at Oxford High School dead. (All have pleaded not guilty.)

At the press conference announcing the charges, McDonald openly expressed her frustration with Michigan’s firearms laws. Like many midwestern states, Michigan has a strong hunting tradition, and fully anticipates its minor children will handle firearms. In some more rural school districts — close to where I grew up — students may take opening day of the deer season off to go hunting with a parent. That’s likely why McDonald kept stressing the importance of “responsible” gun ownership. She’s acknowledging to her constituents — and voters — that teens can have access to firearms in Michigan if done responsibly. This is in contrast to what the state alleges the Crumbleys did: allow their son access to a gun despite repeated warnings that he might use the weapon to hurt others.

Charging the parents with manslaughter for permitting their child access to a firearm used in a shooting is not unprecedented, but it may signal a new trend. The prosecutor here is not charging the parents under specific gun-related statutes. Rather, involuntary manslaughter can be applied to any creative theory of gross negligence that results in death. Maybe heightened parental responsibility standards is a solution that both sides of the gun debate can get behind. We can provide schools with security plans and active shooter drills, but making more parents criminally responsible could be a powerful preventative fix.


From pandemic to endemic: this is how we might get back to normal

First, the bad news. With unpredictable outbreaks still occurring around the world, and variants like Omicron raising questions about the virus’s contagiousness, we are very much still in a pandemic.

The good news: while it’s difficult to predict the exact timing, most scientists agree that the Covid-19 pandemic will end and that the virus will become endemic. That means the virus will probably never be eliminated entirely, but as more people get vaccinated and become exposed to it, infections will eventually arise at a consistently low rate, and fewer people will become severely ill. An area where vaccination and booster rates are high will probably see endemicity sooner than a region with lower rates

What does that transition look like?
In practical terms, there will be an announcement. The World Health Organization and local health agencies will officially declare the global pandemic over, a designation informed by certain biological and statistical benchmarks: the virus’s contagiousness, mortality rate, and power to overwhelm hospitals, to name a few.

In some places, like the US and other wealthy nations with ready access to vaccines and antiviral treatments, endemicity could look a lot like the present: People emerging from despair, diners piling into restaurants, and vaccine cards being checked with decreasing rigor. But there could be other, more profound societal changes as well.

To understand how daily life will change if Covid-19 becomes endemic, we can turn to history for a useful (if imperfect) guide.


The final, anguished years of a warrior-scholar who exposed torture by U.S. troops

Retired Special Forces Maj. Ian Fishback graduated near the top of his West Point class, deployed four times to Iraq and Afghanistan, earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Michigan and was named one of Time magazine's most influential people in 2005 for blowing the whistle on torture by the U.S. military.

He died broke, virtually homeless and medicated with heavy antipsychotic drugs in an adult foster care center near Kalamazoo, Mich., on Nov. 19 at age 42, as his friends and family scrambled to find him mental health care.

"He was Captain America," says Marc Garlasco, a former Defense Department official who was at Human Rights Watch when Fishback reached out in 2005.

"It's just hard for me to comprehend that this is how the life of Captain America would end, in mental anguish while being forcibly medicated in some facility," Garlasco says. "It's a real damning, damning statement on 20 years of war and how we treat the veterans of this country."


Mom says police tasered, arrested special needs Cumberland County student

Crossville Police Department officers arrested a Cumberland County High School student Thursday after they said he became unruly and threatened violence. WVLT News obtained a video the student’s mother claims captured the incident. She said the situation is more complicated than the report reflects.

According to the report from CPD, officers were dispatched to the school following a report of an unruly student who reportedly threatened violence and who authorities said was capable of injuring staff.

“The student would not comply with the officer’s attempts gain control of the situation stating that, ‘It would take all 5 [of them] to make an arrest.’ The student, at 6′4″ and approx. 240 lbs., had threatened violence and was fully capable of inflicting injury to staff, officers, bystanders and ultimately to the student’s own person,” the report says.

The officers tried to take the student into custody and eventually tasered him, forcing him to the ground and into handcuffs, the report reads.

Is it EVER appropriate for a teacher to tell a student to "Shut up" or call him a "little punk motherfucker"?
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