All posts edited by Madeline Ricchiuto.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Prop 8 Today - US Supreme Court

Today is a historic day for the US as the Proposition 8 case will be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).

This issue, although more popularized than in the past, is still quite controversial. The Proposition 8 case is about whether or not states, specifically California, have the authority to deny marriage to same-sex couples.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Steubenville Rape Case - Rape Culture

As I'm sure many of you have heard there has been a recent case decided in Ohio regarding two young men who had sex with a 16 year old girl while she was essentially unconscious. In case you haven't here is a quick summary of what has happened: Last summer, two young men (16 and 17) were out partying, and were allegedly seen dragging a 16 year old girl's body from party to party and committing sexual acts with her. One of the young men even took a video.

The two boys have been found guilty as of late, and the story has received national attention. This national attention, however, has its own consequences. While it encourages a conversation about rape and rape culture, it also exposes many of the attitudes we have about rape. This case in particular shows a worrying unwillingness to hold certain people accountable, and a desire to sweep personal liberties and justice for rape victims under the rug.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

White People Are Being Systematically Disenfranchised

The Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) was a source of great controversy on Friday. Apparently after a presentation called 'Trump the Race Card', given by K. Carl Smith of the Frederick Douglass Republicans, an attendee commented on how he was proud of his people (white, southern) and how he feels they are being 'disenfranchised' (as well as some other very astonishing things). See the video below:

Huge Advancements in the Battle Against HIV/AIDS

I'm not sure how many of you have heard but there have been some amazing advancements regarding HIV prevention/treatment this month! This is especially good news and I thought an appropriate thing to blog about considering my past posts on sex education in the US (you can see them here and here).

Early in March, a baby in Mississippi was declared 'functionally cured' of HIV after being treated with a high does of antiretrovirals. This child is considered only the second person in the world to be cured of HIV. The first patient was a man named Timothy Brown, who received a blood marrow transplant (to treat his leukemia). Timothy received marrow from a person who is HIV resistant and thusly his blood cells became HIV resistant as well (the new ones produced by the marrow for those not scientifically inclined).

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

US Sequester, Economy, Etc. - Idea

So I know I already wrote a post on this but after some time thinking about this I thought I'd put out an idea to all of you wonderful people. We all know that the US economy is in a bind. It has been for quite some time now. I think it is fair to say the economy is in a better state now than it was 4 years ago (if you disagree...well I'm sorry). That being said, the US economy is no where as strong as I believe it could be.

Does anybody remember the reports from a few years ago that said that we (the US) were in almost as bad shape as The Great Depression? Since then it seems that we were not quite as bad off, but certainly we were in terrible shape. And people are still in 2013 saying that we are having the worst economic recovery since then.

Sex Education in the US - A Summary

Sex education in the US has been an area of interest of mine for some time. When I was studying Social Justice at Rutgers I was curious to find out the correlation between sex education practices and results such as teen pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and transmission of other STI's. 

Looking at the recent CDC Surveillance report, I noted in another post that it seems that the South has a higher preponderance of HIV transmission. I also noted that there seems to be a correlation with the extensiveness of sex education (many southern states don't have mandatory sex education or STI prevention, or birth control methodologies taught). 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

US Economy, Revenue, and Taxes

As almost everyone has probably heard, the sequester cuts have taken effect in the US. This has spiked an increase in attention to tax policy, because President Barack Obama and the Democrats have said that they will not accept any policy that does not have in it tax increases on the wealthiest of US citizens. Republicans on the other hand have said that they do not support any measure which attempts to raise taxes, especially on the rich because the Republicans consider them the job creators.

This is a major divide in US politics, and an extremely polarizing issue. This isn't anything new, but is being put particularly in the spotlight because of these recent events. I think now is a very good time to share some very important facts about the current state of the economy. Particularly in reference to the distribution of wealth and how this is or should be reflected in the revenue and tax policies. For starters why don't we start with the following video :

Is Internet Access A Human Right?

A relatively new (new as in modern) idea is starting to emerge in the world. With the advancement of society and technology, we are forced to face challenges with our rights. The internet is a very new advancement and a revolutionary one in human history, but how does this advancement play into our rights?

When this question is brought up there are many differing opinions but it can be boiled down to a more simple question. The first question that should always be asked is do we have a right to access the internet? This question is vital because it can, like the internet itself, be completely revolutionary to a society.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Israel introducing buses for only Palestinians?

Starting on Monday buses running from the West Bank into central Israel will start having different lines/buses for Palestinians and Israeli's. According to reports, the Afkim company will start running Palestinian only lines to prevent Palestinians boarding with Jewish passengers.

These lines, which again begin on Monday, are not being called segregated buses by Transportation Ministry officials (for obvious reasons). Instead the lines are said to be there to 'relieve the distress of Palestinian workers'. Specifically the ministry said, "The two new lines that will be run as of tomorrow (Monday) are intended to improve the services to Palestinian workers that enter Israel via the Eyal Crossing."

Grindr - Degrading?

Since my last post on Grindr, I have received some feedback about people who think Grindr is just degrading to anyone who uses it for hookups. This they say is regardless of their sexual orientation. In regards to the app, one person had this to say "In my opinion its disgusting and just another way to find a hookup, and everyone that I known to use it only uses it to hook up with other men. Needless to say, Im not a fan." The same person clarified, after a response from myself, saying "What I'm saying is its degrading to use if you're using it for hook ups (which most do); no matter what your sexuality is."

Now I am not one to say that nobody can hold this opinion. You certainly can. And I won't say that you can't or try to force you to not hold this opinion, but I think it is an interesting point of discussion. I find it particularly interesting because there are even those who are feminists who hold similar views. The general view seems to be that these apps when used for hooking up is degrading.

HIV Infection Rate: New Report

The CDC's newest HIV Surveillance Report is the first to allow researches to map the HIV infection rate across the whole United States. It was added to the list of characteristics that would be examined in the CDC's report. The report also takes things such as sex, race, age, sexual practices, and drug us (needle use) into account.

The data from this new category shows an interesting trend. It seems that HIV/AIDS infections are highest in the geographical region identified as the South. It's important to not that high infection rates are not limited to the South but are more prevalent there. The CDC reports infection rates (per 100,000 population) of HIV (any stage) in 2011 as "In 2011, rates were 20.9 in the South, 18.1 in the Northeast, 12.0 in the West, and 9.3 in the Midwest."

Saturday, March 2, 2013

SCOTUS and Marriage Equality: Westboro Baptists Gives Their Two Cents

So I know I already did a post about the many many briefs that have been filed with SCOTUS about their upcoming cases on marriage equality, but today I found out that the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) submitted their own brief to the court. Let's have some fun and analyze just a bit of it!

The brief starts off by clarifying that it is being filed in support of no party. It says specifically, "The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas respectfully submits this amicus curiae brief in support of no party, but in favor of reversal." I already have to pause and laugh. If they are supporting reversal is that not supporting the appellant? That is what they are there for and that's what WBC is pushing for. Seems like support for the appellant to me.

South African Police: Authorities or Vigilantes?

I recently read an article about reports police abuse in South Africa. The article, from UK newspaper - The Guardian, used a website called South Africa's Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) to show a number of violations of people's rights by South African Police.

Within a week of each other two constables appeared in court facing charges of rape. The first appeared on February 21, where it has been reported that he raped his former girlfriend after driving her and some of friends home from a tavern. They were using a state vehicle and after dropping off the friends, the victim was let outside the vehicle to pee. Allegedly there was "a chase", and afterwards the victim was assaulted, raped, and was threatened with death when she refused to get back in the car.

The second victim had been arguing with her sister prior to the police being called. The police handcuffed and brought the woman to a field where the constable allegedly raped her. The accused is out on bail for R1,500, or £150 ($225).

Friday, March 1, 2013

Voting Rights Act on Trial

This past Wednesday the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) heard oral arguments surrounding the Voting Rights Act. For those of you who don't know this particular law, it was enacted in 1965 to battle racial discrimination at the voting booth. The act functions such that the government can be held liable for abridging a person's right to vote based on their "race or color." Section 5 of the act states:
"Whenever a State or political subdivision with respect to which the prohibitions set forth in section 4(a) are in effect shall enact or seek to administer any voting qualifications or prerequisite to voting, or standard, practice, or procedure with respect to voting different from that in force or effect on November 1, 1964, such State or subdivision may institute an action in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia for a declaratory judgment that such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure does not have the purpose and will not have the effect of denying or abridging the right to vote on account of race or color, and unless and until the court enters such judgment no person shall be denied the right to vote for failure to comply with such qualification, prerequisite, standard, practice, or procedure."

Massachusetts School Directive on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth

On February 15th the Massachusetts Department of Education issued an 11 page directive on the proper ways to go about addressing having a transgender student. The directive was made in response to the 2011 antidiscrimination act that took effect in the summer of 2012 and questions from those who weren't sure how to handle children who don't confrom to society's gender standards.

The directive has come under fire recently because it instructs schools to allow students who are biologically male but identify as a girl to use the girl's locker rooms, bathrooms, etc. Fox's Bill O'Reilly addressed the directive in a segment on February 26th.


Trans Expulsion in California Raises Many Questions

It has come into the public eye recently that a California school, California Baptist University (CBU), expelled a student because she is transgender. As is usually the case, it may not be a simple as that but that certainly seems to be the case.

Domaine Javier
In early 2011 Domaine Javier, was accepted to CBU's nursing program and was receiving two scholarships. In April 2011 Domaine appeared on an episode of MTV's "True Life" titled, "I'm Passing as Someone I'm Not" (the name of the episodes is an issues in and of itself) and revealed that she is transgender.

Enforced Disappearances in Mexico?

While inquiring into the cases of missing persons in Mexico, the US based organization Human Rights Watch claims to have found evidence of likely enforced disappearances in a recently released report. The organization was looking into the disappearance of 249 persons of which they found that in 149 of said cases the police or military were reportedly involved.

Reportedly many of the cases take place when men/husbands went out for groceries and never returned or were taken in the night. Many were said to be last seen being stuffed into the back of some kind of official vehicle (military of police).

This is a worrying report. While it has been reported for some time that Mexico has been involved in some shady business regarding human rights, such as extrajudicial killings, this report is said to be one of the most significant attempts to identify problems within the government to date.