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AUGUST 2014

 
 

STEM BUILDS TIES BETWEEN EAST PALO ALTO STUDENTS/STANFORD


Students from the d.Loft STEM Learning program (Photo courtesy of Maureen Carroll)

The innovative course and afterschool mentor program bring lessons from education, design and engineering to local schools. Huddled around a picnic table in the courtyard of East Palo Alto Phoenix Academy, a group of middle-schoolers and Stanford students were hard at work. In front of them lay a mess of pipe cleaners, old cardboard, aluminum foil, tape and various other household materials. To an outsider, it might have looked like junk, but these students saw endless possibilities. "Last week we showed them a video about people living in rural Nigeria who faced some challenges in accomplishing everyday tasks like cooking for their families," said Raul Gutierrez, a second-year master’s student in electrical engineering at Stanford. One 8th grader showed off a wheelbarrow low-rider she designed to prevent backaches among the Nigerian women who had to haul firewood long distances for cooking. Another demonstrated a backpack baby carrier that could make it easier to care for children while cooking. Read the article

 

AMID GAZA'S RUINS, IMPACT ON CHILDREN MOST 'SEVERE': UN OFFICIAL

Humanitarian and relief agencies warn that Gaza is on the "brink" of an international health crisis as both water and power infrastructure have been destroyed during Operation Protective Edge Israel's attack on Gaza will be felt most severely among the Palestinian children, a top United Nations official said. Addressing a UN conference by phone, Pernille Ironside, who runs the UNICEF field office in Gaza, said the agency estimates that roughly 373,000 Palestinian children have had some kind of direct traumatic experience as a result of the attack and will require immediate psycho-social support. This is in addition to the 408 children reported as killed and the thousands left wounded after three weeks of heavy shelling by Israeli forces. In a piece published in +972 Magazine, Olivia Watson, advocacy officer with Defense for Children International-Palestine—which is independently verifying all child-deaths in the conflict—writes that for even those children "who manage to escape physical injury, the psychological effects of this latest operation will be hidden, but severe and resounding." "Many have lost one or both parents, or other family members. Some have lost their entire extended families," Watson continues. "All have experienced violence, fear and instability at close quarters." Read Article

 

FORCING KIDS TO STICK TO GENDER ROLES CAN BE HARMFUL TO THEIR HEALTH

Raising children in societies that adhere to rigid gender roles, with fixed ideas about what should be considered “masculine” and "feminine," can actually be detrimental to their physical and mental health, according to a study that observed 14-year-olds' interactions over a three month period. "Usually we think of gender as natural and biological, but it's not… We actually construct it in ways that have problematic and largely unacknowledged health risks," lead researcher Maria do Mar Pereira, the deputy director for the University of Warwick's Centre for the Study of Women and Gender. Pereira observed both boys and girls regulating their behavior in potentially harmful ways in order to adhere to gender norms. For instance, even girls who enjoyed sports often avoided physical activity at school because they assumed it wouldn't be a feminine thing to do, they worried they might look unattractive while running, or they were mocked by their male peers for not being good enough. The girls also put themselves on diets because they believed desirable women have to be skinny. "All of the girls were within very healthy weights, but they were all restricting their intake of food in some way. So what we're really talking about here is 14-year-old girls, whose bodies are changing and developing, depriving themselves at every meal," Pereira said. "In the extreme, that can lead to things like eating disorders. But even for the women who don’t reach the extreme, it can be very unhealthy for them." Meanwhile, the male participants in the study all faced intense pressure to demonstrate the extent of their manliness, which led to what Pereira calls "everyday low-level violence": slapping and hitting each other, as well as inflicting pain on other boys’ genitals. They were encouraged to physically fight each other if they were ever mocked or offended. They felt like they had to drink unhealthy amounts of alcohol because that’s what a man would do. And they were under certain mental health strains, too; struggling with anxiety about proving themselves and suppressing their feelings, all while lacking a strong emotional support system. Read Article

 

PULL THE RUG ON AT&T

Are we okay with our bosses controlling our access to birth control coverage? No. No we are not. What can we do about it? Most important, we can STOP electing candidates like Bush, who appointed, along with his Dad, 3 of the conservative majority behind last month's Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby ruling. Here's another important step to take: Dump AT&T, the mobile phone giant that contributed to both Bushes, as well as many other candidates whose agenda includes a War Against Women. Please take a stand with CREDO Mobile, a progressive phone company. The fight is just beginning. Join us. Don't delay, this offer expires August 7. I routinely find myself in mixed-gender environments (life) where men interrupt me. Now that I've decided to try and keep track, just out of curiosity, it's quite amazing how often it happens. It's particularly pronounced when other men are around. This irksome reality goes along with another -- men who make no eye contact. For example, a waiter who only directs information and questions to men at a table, or the man last week who simply pretended I wasn't part of a circle of five people (I was the only woman). We'd never met before and barely exchanged 10 words, so it couldn't have been my not-so-shrinking-violet opinions. Read More.

 

UPDATE FROM "NO MORE PAGE 3"

The first image of a woman with bare breasts on Page 3 appeared in UK's tabloid, The Sun, in 1970. Here is what the is what protesters are saying today: "We're now a movement of nearly 200,000 people! We'd like to use this opportunity to share all our reasons for signing and to inspire others to get on board. * Whether you're an individual, part of a team, group, charity or business. All you have to do is finish off this sentence 'I signed because....' in whatever format you like. This could be in a tweet (#isignedbecause) a photo (with you holding up a #isignedbecause sign), a blog, a newspaper article, a video, a song, get as creative as you’d like (mime? frosted icing?) Just tweet/Facebook/email (nomorepage3@gmail.com) Watch our first #isignedbecause videos here! With Stella Creasy MP and Caroline Lucas MP * An awesome supporter has set up a petition asking Costa to stop supplying The Sun in cafes. It currently has over 27,000 signatures! Please do sign and share. * We are super excited to let you know that our regional groups have been springing up all over the country. We'd like to thank all the incredible individuals who are blowing so much energy into these groups and the campaign. We really feel there is a chance of convincing them but it relies on all of you!! Click here for more info on exactly what you can do to help

 

MEDIAN HOUSEHOLD WEALTH FELL BY 1/3 SINCE 2003

According to a June 2014 Russell Sage Foundation report, the average U.S. household experienced a real wealth decline of more than one-third over the 10 years ending in 2013. Graph to left shows that the net worth of the median household fell from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013, for a decline of 36%. In fact, the last ten years were hard on the overwhelming majority of American households. Only the top 2 groups enjoyed wealth gains over the period. Also noteworthy is the tiny net worth of households below the median. Figure 1 provides a longer term perspective on wealth movements. We can see that most households enjoyed growing wealth from 1984 to the 2007 crisis, with wealth falling across the board since. However, the median household is now significantly poorer than it was in 1984. Only the richer households managed to maintain most of their earlier gains in wealth. These trends highlight the fact that we have a growing inequality of wealth, as well as of income, and they are not likely to reverse on their own. Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor of economics at Lewis and Clark College. You can follow him at Reports from the Economic Front. Read full article.

 

VICTIM-BLAMING ANTI-DRINKING POSTERS GET EDITED

The United Kingdom's National Health Service is facing a backlash for posters from an anti-drinking campaign called "Know Your Limits" that ran several years ago and still pepper college and hospital walls. A petition calling the posters "a blatant and appalling case of victim-blaming, putting the onus on the victim rather than the perpetrator" has gotten over 100,000 signatures. But since NHS insists there's nothing they can do since the campaign is over, I'm liking this more direct approach taken by British blogger @neverjessie even more. The NHS posters are similar to those awful ads put out by The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board a few years ago. GET OUT YOUR RED PENS. Read Article

 

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