Valerie's Articles, Page 1 of 2
A well-known proverb states, ‘See a penny, pick it up, and all day long you’ll have good luck.’ According to the 8th Annual Coinstar National Currency Poll, 79% of all people will pick up a penny on the street when they find one. At the same time, we leave them in unguarded bowls on the counters of convenience stores.
Danaya Yochim analyzes many different social perspectives on pennies in her recent article, including collecting, investing, and arguments for eliminating this form of currency. It is interesting to note that removing the penny from circulation and rounding all transactions to the nearest nickel would cost Americans $600 million annually.
The South Dakota Senate has succeeded in an effort to pass a law prohibiting abortion in almost all cases, including rape and incest. The bill is on the way back to the South Dakota House, where changes made by the Senate will be debated.
‘It is the time for the South Dakota Legislature to deal with this issue and protect the lives and rights of unborn children,’ said Democratic Senator Julie Bartling. The bill is designed to challenge the US Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, making it the first direct challenge from any US State.
Lately more attention is being focused on the seriousness of sexual abuse of children. With most states in the US adopting Jessica’s Law, one could expect stricter punishment for sexual offenders across the American board.
Not so in Italy, where this week the Italian Supreme Court ruled that sexual abuse of a non-virgin teen carries a milder penalty than molestation of a virgin. A man identified as Marco T. was sentenced to three years and four months in jail for forcing his stepdaughter to perform oral sex on him. He appealed, claiming that his stepdaughter’s non-virgin status should have been taken into account.
Cigarette smoking is a contributing factor in the deaths of 440,000 Americans each year, costing $75.5 billion in medical expenditures for American companies. Many employer insurance companies have taken note, and are now initiating smoker surcharges on employee health premiums.
A survey taken last year showed that 41 percent of the companies surveyed already had health incentives and penalties associated with employee health insurance, such as financial benefits for gym membership. However, the trend to punish for non-healthy behavior seems to be catching on as companies realize more and more the increased costs of insuring smokers.
Although modern societies have developed many ways to purify water from sewage, urban runoff (or nonpoint source) pollution continues to present a problem for local water sources. A new study to be published in the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science and Technology examines the role of ‘rain gardens’ in the reduction of nonpoint source contaminants.
‘Rain Gardens’ are shallow depressions in the earth planted with shrubs and plants like winterberry, and then surrounded by bark mulch. These gardens can trap and retain 99 percent of the most common runoff pollutants, such as nitrates and ammonias, and they work well year round.
Illegal immigration is a risky business, as most immigrants are forced to traverse hundreds of miles of desert on their way into the US. To combat the deaths associated with crossing the border, a Mexican government commission is printing 70,000 maps showing immigrants where they can find water, rescue beacons, and highways in the Arizona desert.
Now we see them at airports: free-standing kiosks allow us to check in, check bags, change seats, upgrade to first class, and print our boarding passes with the simple swipe of a card. It’s fast, easy, and it frees up airline staff to do other tasks.
Soon we may see them in our doctors’ offices. Two Dallas area health practices, Baylor Health Care System and Pediatric Allergy/Immunology Associates PA, have invested in technology which allows patients to register, update insurance information, and sign consent forms, all on a computer clipboard smaller than a piece of notebook paper.
Even as adults, most of us still suffer from the inability to endure tickling, except when we try to tickle ourselves. Dr. Randy Flanagan of the Queens Centre for Neuroscience Studies is examining the mechanism of sense attenuation, which he believes is the source for the difference in tickling sensations.
His studies indicate that our brains anticipate our own touch, and therefore decrease the importance of the input coming from ourselves. This pathway is at work constantly to keep us from being distracted by our own movements.
The controversial film, Brokeback Mountain_, has been drawing much acclaim, as it received an unmatched four nominations3381252 for awards from the Screen Actors Guild. Some critics are now expecting the film to earn an Oscar for best picture this year, a first for a film with such a socially contentious story line.
As the movie garners Hollywood praise, it is also the subject for much criticism. One film critic, Gene Shalit, portrays Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Jack, as a ‘sexual predator’ who ‘tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts.’ Another calls the film ‘the rape of the Marlboro man,’ referring to the perversion of the classical masculine American symbol of the cowboy. A theater in Utah actually pulled the film from its schedule.
The National Portrait Gallery in London is planning an exhibition called Searching for Shakespeare. Several paintings of the famous playwright and poet, long thought to be his actual likeness, will be put on display together for the first time. Before presentation, however, all the paintings were subjected to scientific study and analysis of the paint, canvas, and content of the picture itself to determine authenticity. The result? None of the works were proven to be Shakespeare’s portrait. Some were completed during his lifetime, but betray their inauthenticity by subtle details in the painting. Others were finished as late as the 19th century.
The buzz surrounding a Hillary Clinton bid for the presidency is on the rise with the announcement of the new ABC drama Commander in Chief. Geena Davis is cast in the role of the Vice-President who, after the death of the President, must take over as the Commander in Chief of the USA.
Is this Hollywood’s method of showing support for Hillary? Many from the Right say yes, citing as evidence the payroll for the television show. Steve Cohen, a writer for the show, worked for Hillary in the 1990s as her deputy communications director. However, other member of the show staff have worked for President G.W. Bush and also for Sandra Day O’Connor. In response to the hoopla, creator of the show, Rod Lurie states, ‘I promise that if there was no Hillary Clinton, there would still be a Commander in Chief – I want to have a hit show that people enjoy, and really, that’s it.’
Sarah Sevick, a student at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, has recently filed a complaint against the university citing the Americans with Disabilities Act because she has been denied the ability to keep her ‘service animal’ in the dormitory with her. Sevick suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, panic attacks, and other mental problems which require that her ferret, Lilly, be at her side at all times.
The University has expressed doubt that the disorders that Sevick claims to have are really true disabilities. Administrators are also concerned that Lilly may cause health and safety problems for other students. The Justice Department is currently reviewing the case. Sevick may have to wait three months before a decision is made.
We have all seen the movie ‘Face Off’, where John Travolta and Nicholas Cage trade faces as part of a cops and robbers story. That was Hollywood, but now a doctor is going to attempt such a transplant in real life. Dr. Maria Siemionow of the Cleveland Clinic hopes to give patients with horrible disfigurements a new chance at normalcy by transplanting cadaver donor faces onto their own.
Similar experimental surgeries were planned in France and England, but were canceled due to fears regarding the effects of tissue rejection. However, Dr. Siemionow already has several rats with white fur and dark faces after successful animal trials.
Once again, Iran is making statements threatening the West not to use the U.N. to penalize it for nuclear proliferation. Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said that, despite theories of Iran’s desire for nuclear arms, there was no legal basis for a referral to the Security Council. He also mentioned that such an action would ‘have consequences,’ although he declined to mention specifics.
Iran has recently defied an agreement with Germany, France, Great Britain, and the International Atomic Energy Agency to halt nuclear expansion projects and restarted uranium conversion. Iran claims that all uranium conversion is for peaceful energy purposes. Iranian officials doubt that action will be taken against them by the UN, as sanctions would cause the rise of oil prices.