MK 354 Spring 2010

March 29, 2010

Australia’s Drastic Measures!

Filed under: blog #7 — Jackies blah-g @ 12:54 pm

When women are pregnant, there are two ways to give birth to the baby. A woman may make the choice to have the baby naturally or through surgery such as a caesarian section. Then there are worries as to whether or not the baby is healthy from the start or if there will be illness. One concern in Australian residents during childbirth is the development of cerebral palsy in the child.

 More than 600 children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy each year. Well Professor Caroline Crowther from the University of Adelaide has found a way to prevent cerebral palsy from forming. The women in Australia are giving premature births so that they may undergo magnesium sulphate therapy. This type of therapy involves the pregnant woman to receive a shot of magnesium sulphate 24 hours before they give birth. The magnesium is vital for normal cell function and can protect against destructive molecule that may harm the cells of the baby.

 Premature birth is when a pregnant woman gives birth earlier that expected. Would you believe that these babies in Australia are given birth prior to being 30 weeks old! The premature birth is either through early caesareans to prevent complications or by spontaneous early labor.

 National guidelines have been put in place at an annual scientific meeting this week of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. This procedure is hoping to prevent cerebral palsy in so many children and to relieve the Australian community of the $400 billion cost that is allocated to people that have cerebral palsy.

To read the article, please visit :

“people-first language”

Filed under: blog #7 — cathleendbombard @ 12:53 pm

I took for granted the themed blog topics up until now and for some reason I had no idea where to look for a topic. Naturally, when I need a distraction from school I turn to Facebook. Every time I log in I think, “I should really delete this. If I didn’t have Facebook I would get so much more work done.” My account always prevails through my threats, and sometimes it actually comes in handy.  

I was going through my many messages when I stumbled upon one from my aunt. The message said, “People need to understand that children with special needs don’t have an illness, they are not looking for a cure only acceptance. 93% of you probably won’t copy and paste this will you be in the 7% that will and leave it on your status for at least an hour. National Special Education week March 22nd to the 26th.”

Normally, I would have ignored the message, like I do with most mass messages. However, this time the wording caught my eye. Although it was a message promoting non-discriminatory acceptance for “children with special needs” by the National Special Education Week, the message was not using “people-first language.”

“People-first language” is a form of non-discriminatory writing about people with disabilities. Because of my work with Partners for Youth with Disabilities I am aware of “people-first language” and its importance. Using “people-first language” is not only a sign of respect, but it is also the offical way of writing in regards to people with disabilities. I find it interesting that not only do organizations not use “people-first language,” but that it is also not a commonly acknowledged way of writing.

I decided to write back to my aunt regarding “people-first language,” PYD and what I have learned while working with the organization. She re-sent the message, with an additional message regarding “people-first language” and the link to PYD. It is not always easy to correct people or to speak your mind, but when you do it in the name of something greater, it sure does feel good.

Report on Women in Science: “Why So Few?”

Filed under: blog #7 — ElizabethOstebo @ 12:14 pm

Yes, boys perform better than girls in math and science—but only when girls of equal math and science abilities think that boys do better than them. A recent report on how women are still outnumbered, despite the increase of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, shows that stereotypes and biases can negatively affect the performance and achievement of women. Several publications, such as the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post, featured the significant findings of the report, “Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics,” by the American Association of University Women.

The New York Times article by Tamar Lewin and the Washington Post education blog by Valerie Strauss touch on the key points of the AAUW report. One of the primary ideas of the report is that acknowledging the stereotype of boys being better than girls in science and math can be detrimental to the confidence of girls in their performance. The research showed that girls would also critique themselves more harshly when they thought boys were going to perform better. Lewin mentions that Catherine Hill, the report’s lead author, and her co-workers found solutions to these problems, such as “a course in spatial skills for women going into engineering, or teaching children that math ability is not fixed, but grows with effort,” which can change how the stereotypes and biases affect women negatively. These problems and solutions highlight the main concern about the underrepresentation of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

According to Globe Columnist Jeff Jacoby, people shouldn’t be more worried about how engineering is a male-dominated field than about how there are more female veterinarians. Jacoby goes on to say that “the links between gender and vocation are interesting,” but gender differences in the workplace do not signify biases or injustices. The AAUW research findings indicate the opposite of Jacoby’s opinion and emphasize that stereotypic biases exist and affect women who enter science-related fields.

The AAUW report offers advice on how to avoid stereotypes and biases: expose girls to more successful women in science and engineering. Science Club for Girls has been doing just that for years. The nonprofit organization increases the confidence and science skills of young girls with after-school programs and female scientist-mentors.

Viva Glam

Filed under: blog #7 — csomerville @ 11:54 am

For the past 3 decades, the HIV/AIDS epidemic has been most notably associated with gay men and people of color, because these populations, particularly the gay population, were the most profoundly affected. Heterosexual women had very low rates of contracting HIV when the virus began being diagnosed, so the strong correlation between HIV and gay men and people of color may have given the majority of heterosexual women a sense of security against contracting the virus. However, according to recent statistics, contraction rates have changed.

Right now, women are more likely to contract HIV than men, and many women aren’t aware of this. In response, cosmetics company MAC will donate $2.5 million to programs that address the issues that place women at greater risk. With the help of new spokeswomen Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper, MAC is marketing a new $14 lipstick whose proceeds go to the MAC HIV Fund.

It’s great what MAC is doing to support women with HIV/AIDS, but the campaign is especially important because it’s spreading the message that women aren’t exempt from contracting HIV. The campaign’s greatest success would not be the amount of money raised, but the amount of women that have become educated about the risks of contracting HIV.

Plastic Beaches

“Don’t mess with the Texas.” That was the slogan for a marketing campaign in Texas that was started in 1986. Since then, the phrase has appeared countless bumper stickers, souvenirs, and the crest of the USS Texas submarine. It is one of the few marketing efforts that can be truly considered timeless. But what was the campaign about? Littering. And, mind you, it is one of the most successful anti-littering campaigns to date. So 24 years later, and Texas is a cleaner state, which is great. The only problem is that it doesn’t translate well across the state border, and most of the world is getting consistently more dirty and polluted. I’m not talking about the obvious places (like China, for instance, or the Great Pacific Garbage Patch), but places like England are being hit hard by humanity’s discharge.  A recent BBC article discusses the extent that litter, especially plastic litter is effecting the environment, the ecosystem, and us.

The Marine Conservation Society just got the results back from its 15th annual beach clean up in 2009. Overall, there was less litter than in 2008, but let’s not rejoice yet. There was 77 percent more litter than in the first clean up in 1994, and 63 percent of it was plastic, more than ever before. An MCS spokeswoman explained why this is important: “Plastic does not biodegrade but breaks down into small pieces that will last for hundreds if not thousands of years. In parts of our oceans there are now six times more plastic particles in the water than plankton.” In addition to that, toxic chemicals attach to the plastic, marine animals eat the plastic, and the chemicals move up the food chain to us.

This article is only the most recent in a long list of warnings that our lifestyles are damaging the environment. Articles have been written, movies have been made, TV shows aired, and speeches delivered, but perhaps the most blunt warnings are those we witness first hand. I was at the Charles River Esplanade the other night with a few friends. It was a beautiful, clear and slightly chilly night, and we were the only ones there. Some of us brought drinks and snacks for everyone. The esplanade is a public park, so there a number of trash cans around. Yet for some reason that I have yet to understand, one of my friends decided to throw his empty Gatorade at some passing Canadian Geese. Then a wrapper blew into the river. And when we walked back I saw another empty drink and a bag of pretzels, both that came from us. And nothing I could say motivated anyone to even pick them up on the way back, so I did it myself. My point is that in a group of seven people, it is lucky for just one of them to be at all environmentally conscious. I assume this number is higher in a place like Texas, but people still mess with Massachusetts and England and nearly everywhere else. Thank god for groups like the MCS in England, but no matter how much trash they pick up, the best thing we can do is not litter in the first place.

Tea Party

Filed under: blog #7 — mtamayo26 @ 2:28 am

Tea Party activist, Tom Grimes, found his new calling after he lost his job as a financial consultant. He single-handily organized a local group and a statewide coalition with over 200 activists protesting the government’s takeover of health care. Like Mr. Grimes, many Tea Party members became involved in this organization due to today’s economic distress. Activists all share the same story that they had lost their jobs, or perhaps watched their homes drop in value, and they found common cause in the Tea Party’s fight for lower taxes and an improved government; despite many of them relying on the government programs for help.

While many only joined this movement until they find a real job, some are so invested they are putting their savings into work that they argue is more important than a job. Diana Reimer and her husband for example needed to sell their home for money, however they were told the house would sell nowhere near as much as the value they originally paid for it, leaving them with no money to pay off their mortgages. Diana Reimer then got a job working retail at a department store however when volunteer work for the Teas Party left her struggling to find time for her real job she decided to quit the paying job for an organization she found to be more important.

Goodwill being an organization dedicated to finding people with barriers to work jobs, I don’t think they would condone Tea Party activists choosing to spend their time protesting than looking for a fulfilling job. If you have the means to work, even if it’s not a desired job, the opportunity should be embraced.


Filed under: blog #7 — pmitch1 @ 12:20 am

The Cooperative Artists Institute prides itself on being the only organization that promotes unity through the arts, so much so that they actually made me sign a confidentiality agreement so that I would not be able to imitate their program.  Apparently, one of the former workers set up a similar organization in California with many of the same ideas and goals as the CAI. While I had little problem with signing considering I am not particularly interested in non-profit work, let alone starting up my own individual organization, it still struck me as being a bit strange.  Isn’t the fact that competitors copy each other an accepted fact?  Whenever Coke comes out with a new flavored soda (such as Vanilla Coke) their chief competitor, Pepsi, is quick to respond with their take on the flavor (Pepsi Vanilla).  While I can understand wanting to protect your ideas, how would our capitalistic economy evolve at all if business information was self-contained?  If employees could never use the knowledge they learned from the corporation outside of that business, half the companies around today wouldn’t exist.

Also, as a non-profit organization isn’t your goal to serve others? If people are being helped, does it really make a difference whether or not you profit or received notoriety from it? Isn’t part of the philosophy behind the non-profit sector to help people irrespective of yourself?  While the CAI is a great and immensely helpful organization, I think they may have the wrong idea here.

Hate Groups Take to the Web

Filed under: blog #7 — michaelryan89 @ 12:10 am

“The Internet allows people to communicate with other people with the same views without any danger.” That is the quote that rung the most true to me in a recent article I found in the Norwalk Reflector. It seems that the anonymity of having an online personality has lead many hate groups to social media. A lack of fact-checking and professional guidelines on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter give groups devoted to terrorism and hatred a platform in which to spread negative messages. Although Facebook encourages users to flag other members who abuse Facebook’s policies, there are no real repercussions for hate groups besides having their site taken down. However, even then it is still very easy to create another site.

Research done by the Southern Poverty Law Center has shown that there is an increase in extremist groups since 2009. This rise is attributed to “[the] country’s troubled economy, its changing demographics and some of President Barack Obama’s policies.“ Coming out of this resentment are blogs and forums committed to informing youth about hate groups’ rhetoric and beliefs.  As Mark Potok, SPLC’s Intelligence Project director states, “the online strategies of hate groups these days to be less recruitment [because] real membership and indoctrination comes when individuals attend a Klan rally or ‘Skinhead concert.’”  

This is so disturbing. The youth of today have enough to worry about regarding the media that we are forced to digest. With shows like The Jersey Shore and music that tells them to degrade others, we don’t need this hate and terror to be brought into our own homes. That’s why there needs to be more organizations like amplifyme out there that encourage everybody to take a stand and make a difference by creating positive media that can hopefully overpower the negative messages one day.

March 28, 2010

VA Hearing Interrupted

Filed under: blog #7 — kathrynflynn @ 8:09 pm

The US Department of Veterans’ Affairs, or the VA, works tirelessly to provide services and benefits to veterans. United States Senator, Daniel K. Akaka, a democrat from Hawaii, is the chairman of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  On March 24, Akaka held a senate hearing to discuss the VA’s five-year plan to end veteran homelessness. The hearing compiled witness accounts from veterans in transitional housing programs, community providers that fight against veteran homelessness and witnesses from US Departments of Veterans’ Affairs, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development.

Unfortunately, the hearing was abruptly cut short “after opponents of health insurance reform objected to allowing most committee hearings, including the Veterans’ Affairs hearing, to continue.” (Hawaii 24/7) Akaka, who had high hopes for the hearing stated, “The Senate should be a place for debate, but I cannot imagine how shutting down a hearing on helping homeless veterans has any part of the debate on the health insurance reform. I am deeply disappointed that my colleagues chose to hinder our common work to help end veteran homelessness.”

This setback is a detrimental to the VA’s future attempts to rid the nation of veteran homelessness. Veteran homelessness is a terrifying reality that stems from negligence by the government. It was government’s responsibility to provide the veterans who returned from Vietnam, Korea and other war zones with the aid that they needed at the time. These vets were suffering from new and severe mental illnesses. The government fell short on this issue, therefore it now has to claim responsibility for the factors that lead to veteran homelessness, and strive to end them.

This attempted Senate Hearing was a stride in the right direction. Smaller centers that focus on reversing the causes of homelessness in the veteran population, and integrating them back into civilized society, such as the New England Center for Homeless Veterans and Liberty House are working hard from the ground up. Veteran homelessness is a huge problem, and I am glad that although the hearing on the VA’s plan was ended, the nation is no longer turning a completely blind eye.


blog 7 – sexting: harmless or illegal?

Filed under: blog #7 — marissagkelley @ 5:49 pm

In a small Pennsylvania town this past February, a 15 year-old girl who lives at home with her mother found herself facing criminal charges.  The offense? Sending nude pictures of herself to one of her male classmates. According to the Clearfield County District Court, this act counts as possessing and distributing child pornography. This case highlights a recent teenage phenomenon that has been gaining significant coverage in the press over the last couple years known as sexting.

Sexting is defined as the sending of sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between cell phones. A recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project identified that 15 percent of teens who own cell phones have received these messages, and four percent have actually sent them. Across the country, lawmakers have been publicly charging teens for engaging in this behavior.

So my question is this: is it ethical to criminally charge teenagers for engaging in the practice of flirtation, as it exists in their cultural and technological context? Is it simply that the laws have not caught up to the technology? Is this an example of the government interfering in an issue that should be left between parents and schools?

The unfortunate fact in considering all of these questions is that sexting can have poor, and even tragic, consequences. In 2008, the story of a teenage girl named Jessica Logan swept the nation when she hanged herself after months of harassment surrounding a nude picture that she had sent in a text message to an ex-boyfriend.

With this information in mind, it goes without saying that there are several conflicting perspectives that surround sexting, its consequences and its potential punishments. However, one perspective that I agree with is this: there is not enough focus in the media on the teens’ opinions regarding this issue. Parents, school officials and psychologists are often interviewed, but little attention is paid to the actual subjects of the debate.

I think that the thoughts and feelings of teenagers on sexting are invaluable; after all, they have never known life without the technology that allows it. To teens today, texting sending text messages is what writing letters was to teens in the 1940s. A picture message today, is the equivalent of those teens writing a dirty letter. Therefore, should a 13-year-old be criminally charged for sending a picture of herself to her boyfriend, especially if it acts as an alternative to unsafe sex? Somewhere, there is a reporter out there who should be asking this question to the teens who do it.

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