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Member since: Tue Apr 5, 2005, 09:55 AM
Number of posts: 6,715

Journal Archives

How did public restrooms get to be separated by sex in the first place?

In March, North Carolina enacted a law requiring that people be allowed to use only the public restroom that corresponds to the sex on their birth certificates. Meanwhile, the White House has taken an opposing position, directing that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. In response, on May 25, 11 states sued the Obama administration to block the federal government from enforcing the directive.

Some argue that one solution to this impasse is to convert all public restrooms to unisex use, thereby eliminating the need to even consider a patron’s sex. This might strike some as bizarre or drastic. Many assume that separating restrooms based on a person’s biological sex is the “natural” way to determine who should and should not be permitted to use these public spaces.

In fact, laws in the U.S. did not even address the issue of separating public restrooms by sex until the end of the 19th century, when Massachusetts became the first state to enact such a statute. By 1920, over 40 states had adopted similar legislation requiring that public restrooms be separated by sex.

So why did states in the U.S. begin passing such laws? Were legislators merely recognizing natural anatomical differences between men and women?

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/public-restrooms-separated-sex-first-place/

Troubled waters: The conflict in the South China Sea explained

A United Nations arbitration court will soon rule over the sovereignty of islands in the South China Sea, a territorial dispute between China and the Philippines with global implications.

In recent years, China has been asserting claims in the region and has built up atolls and islands to be large enough to stage military exercises. This region is of major economic and geopolitical significance, with its vital commercial shipping lanes, rich fisheries and massive natural gas and oil deposits.

Even before any ruling, China has rejected the U.N. process and argued that the Philippines should seek to settle the dispute through bilateral negotiations. The U.S., meanwhile, has been stepping up military exercises in the South China Sea in recent months.

These growing tensions focus attention on an emerging geopolitical hotspot, something I view through my perspective as a researcher of political geography and globalization. What is the background to these tensions and what are their likely implications and consequences?

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/troubled-waters-conflict-south-china-sea-explained/

Drought be dammed: Has the promise of huge dams run its course?

Wedged between Arizona and Utah, less than 20 miles up river from the Grand Canyon, a soaring concrete wall nearly the height of two football fields blocks the flow of the Colorado River. There, at Glen Canyon Dam, the river is turned back on itself, drowning more than 200 miles of plasma-red gorges and replacing the Colorado’s free-spirited rapids with an immense lake of flat, still water called Lake Powell, the nation’s second largest reserve.

When Glen Canyon Dam was built — in the middle of the last century — giant dams were championed as a silver bullet promising to elevate the American West above its greatest handicap — a perennial shortage of water. These monolithic wonders of engineering would bring wild rivers to heel, produce cheap, clean power, and stockpile water necessary to grow a thriving economy in the middle of the desert. And because they were often remotely located they were rarely questioned.

We built the Hoover Dam, creating Lake Mead, Glen Canyon Dam and more than 300 other dams and reservoirs at a cost of more than $100 billion. Such was the nation’s enthusiasm for capturing its water that even the lower part of the Grand Canyon seemed, for a time, worth flooding. Two more towering walls of concrete were proposed there, and would have backed up water well into the nation’s most famous national park.

But today, there are signs that the promise of the great dam has run its course.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/promise-huge-dams-run-course/

The US will arm a communist country for the first time since WWII

Diplomatic relations were finally restored in 1995 by President Bill Clinton, but on Monday President Barack Obama went a step further: During a visit to Hanoi, he announced he was lifting the embargo on US companies selling arms to Vietnam, 41 years after the fall of Saigon.

The Vietnam War was the bloodiest conflict America has been involved in since World War II. The physical and mental scars are still there for many of the Americans who served.

But on Monday Obama pointed to Secretary of State John Kerry, who served in the Vietnam War, and said veterans on both sides had shown “hearts can change, and peace is possible.''

Republican Senator John McCain has been a big advocate for lifting the arms embargo. McCain was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam for five years, and was tortured.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/us-will-arm-communist-country-first-time-since-wwii-2/

Padres discipline employee after gay men’s chorus drowned out singing national anthem

The San Diego Padres said late Sunday that it had disciplined an employee and stopped working with a contractor who was responsible for marring the performance of the national anthem by the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus.

The choir's Saturday performance was drowned out by a recording of a woman singing the national anthem that was broadcast in the stadium.

The incident generated outrage, partly because the chorus was singing during "Out at the Park," a special LGBT pride event at the stadium. Members of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus accused the Padres of homophobia and called for an investigation by the team as well as Major League Baseball.

The Padres said in a statement that it had conducted an internal probe and concluded that there was "no evidence of malicious intent" by any of the individuals involved in the mishap, but the organization faulted personnel for not immediately intervening and correcting the situation.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/padres-discipline-employee-gay-mens-chorus-drowned-singing-national-anthem/

Postal banking: A realistic and trustworthy alternative to big banks

Each year, the average underserved household spends $2,412 – nearly 10 percent of gross income – in fees and interest for non-bank financial services. These transactions might include a payday or car title loan, cashing a paycheck, or simply accessing Social Security benefits. As United for a Fair Economy puts it, “Each year, over $103 billion is stripped from these people and their communities and ends up in the hands of Wall Street. For the underserved, there is little opportunity to create a credit history, have access to affordable, safe and sustainable financial services, or build assets over time.”

Is there an alternative? What if a trusted, accessible, and non-profit institution (that receives no tax dollars for operating expenses) with the world’s largest retail network (31,000 branches serving every urban, suburban, and rural community in the country) existed that could help fill this void?

Well, actually, it does exist. It’s the United States Postal Service.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/postal-banking-alternative-trustworthy-to-big-banks/

GOP Senator’s inquiry into Facebook runs afoul of First Amendment

By Sophia Cope

Allegations that Facebook’s “trending” news stories are not actually those that are most popular among users drew the attention of Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who sent a letter of inquiryto Facebook suggesting that the company may be “misleading” the public, and demanding to know details about how the company decides what content to display in the trending news feed. Sen. Thune appears particularly disturbed by charges that the company routinely excludes news stories of interest to conservative readers.

Congressional inquiries usually come with the tacit understanding that Congress investigates when it thinks it could also legislate. Yet any legislative action in response to the revelations would run afoul of the First Amendment. It is possible that Sen. Thune, as chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, sees Facebook as engaging is “unfair or deceptive” trade practices, but that still does not create a legal basis for regulating what amounts to Facebook’s editorial decision-making.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/senators-inquiry-facebook-runs-afoul-first-amendment/

Definition of ‘medical marijuana’ varies from state to state. That’s a problem.

By Kenneth E. Leonard

On April 17, Pennsylvania became the latest state to pass medical marijuana legislation, which will take effect this month. And recently Ohio’s House of Representatives has passed a plan to permit medical marijuana in the state.

Research suggests that marijuana – or more specifically compounds in marijuana – may have potential as a treatment for epilepsy and chronic pain, among other conditions. However, more research is needed to fully understand any potential health benefits from the substance.

As of this writing, 41 states have legislation that permits medical marijuana in some form. However, the law in Texas is not considered functional, because it requires a physician to prescribe marijuana. Since marijuana is illegal under federal law, doctors can’t prescribe it. They can only recommend it to patients. Louisiana’s law had the same flaw, but the state’s House of Representatives just voted on new legislation that should correct this problem.

As the director of the Research Institute on Addictions at the University at Buffalo and a researcher who studies social factors in the development of addictions, I follow many of the emerging trends in substance use.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/counts-medical-marijuana-varies-state/

Sykes-Picot agreement is not to blame for Middle East’s problems

The Sykes-Picot agreement turns 100 this week. Named after its negotiators, Sir Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot, the secret wartime deal proposed dividing the Middle East between Britain and France, down an extraordinary line.

To quote Sykes verbatim, it ran "from the E in Acre to the last K in Kirkuk", and its vestiges are still visible today, in Syria's border with Jordan and western Iraq.

Sykes would surely have been astonished to know that, a century later, we are still discussing his deal with Picot. For he had originally proposed the agreement in December 1915 as an expedient to avert a row.

The French were angry because they had discovered that, behind their backs their British allies had offered the Arabs territory they wanted themselves. That put their creaky wartime alliance with Britain under added strain.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/sykes-picot-is-not-to-blame-for-middle-easts-problems/

What cities need: More festivals, fewer stadiums and museums

By Jonathan Wynn

Last year the Institute of Museum and Library Services offered a catchy statistic: the United States has more museums than all the Starbucks and McDonald’s combined.

It’s easy to understand why cities will leap at the opportunity to invest in new structures: “Starchitect”-designed buildings, from the Santiago Calatrava-designed Milwaukee Art Museum to Brooklyn’s undulating Barclays Center, could add an iconic image to the cityscape and garner positive media buzz.

However, such massive public investments in permanent structures (what I’ve dubbed “concrete culture”) are bad deals and bad policy for urban economic development. Once the hoopla fades, cities can be saddled with millions in debt and mixed results. Take, for example, Charlotte’s NASCAR museum. Built in 2010 at a cost of US$160 million, the facility has not met attendance projections and, according to the Charlotte Observer, is losing $1 million a year.

Given the economic costs and risks, why do museums, stadiums and other “concrete culture” receive such a privileged place in urban development? After spending the past 10 years conducting research on the topic, I’ve found that this privilege should end; as an alternative, cities should champion music festivals as a cheaper, adaptable way to bolster urban communities.

MORE HERE: http://yonside.com/more-festivals-fewer-stadiums-and-museums2/

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