Forget about the drug cartels for a minute, a new war is bewing in Mexico––against chewing gum. According to the Mexican newspaper, El Universal, PRI deputy, Juan Manuel Diez Francos, has finally moved forward and proposed a federal tax of 50 percent on chewing gum, or chicle as it is known in Mexico. HuffPost LatinoVoices reports that the deputy says ”the chewing gum tax would help pay for the cleaning of chewing gum that people spit out in public places like sidewalks, plazas and parks. As it stands now, he says, the government spends an average of 2 pesos and 50 cents on every piece of gum it un-sticks from these public areas. The cheapest pack of chicle costs only 50 cents.
“It might sound like a trivial issue, but Mexican’s love their gum. It is the second largest consumer of gum after the U.S. according to Kraft Foods. There are 92 thousand tons of chicle produced each year in Mexico, and on average Mexicans consume 2.5 pieces of gum per day. The average cleanup in Mexico City is 70 chicles per square meter. And in a single day, the cost of cleanup of the Zocalo amounts to approximately 2,800 pesos according to Diez Francos.
“The cleaning of chewed gum is not a problem isolated to Mexico. Diez Francos points out that England spends 7 million euros each year cleaning up gum. And the fact is, chewed gum can be a health hazard since it can contain over 50 thousand germs and transmittable diseases. England’s chewing gum problem is so bad, it inspired artist Ben Wilson to take his talents to the tiny blobs spread all over the sidewalks. Concerned about the environment and how advertisements rule the urban environment, Wilson began painting on the gum. He doesn’t just dab them with color, he uses the gum as a canvas for his miniature paintings which he does just about everywhere and on most any subject.”
For more see, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/28/mexico-chewing-gum-tax_n_2205512.html
“Keeping up with the pace of change in the digital world is challenging, and harnessing its potential can be frustrating,” says the Getty Trust’s James Cuno. As presented in an essay entitled “Art History is Failing at the Internet” by Cuno carried in DailyDot, “the biggest mistake many of us in the arts and humanities academy can make is thinking of that potential only in terms of how we can use the new technology to more quickly and broadly disseminate information. The promise of the digital age is far greater than that. It offers an opportunity to rethink the way we do, as well as to deliver new research in the arts.
“The history of art as practiced in museums and the academy is sluggish in its embrace of the new technology. Of course we have technology in our galleries and classrooms and information on the Web; of course we are exploiting social media to reach and grow our audiences, by tweeting about our books, our articles, including links to our career accomplishments on Facebook and chatting with our students online
Continue reading “Art history versus the internet”
“Boyfriend Maker” is a virtual dating app developed by Japanese game maker 30You and released in February. DailyDot reports that “The app quickly shot to the top of the Asian iPhone app markets, and earlier this month, the developer announced it was the #1 app for the iPhone in Japan. And it’s easy to see why: Boyfriend Maker is smart, pretty, customizable, and quick to learn based on your conversation and the conversation of the millions of others who’ve downloaded it.
Continue reading “Goodbye “Boyfriend-Maker””
There they go again. Congressional republicans are poised to vote down a U.N. disability rights treaty already endorsed by 278 nations––including the United States itself. As reported in Ms Magazine,
“Yesterday the U.S. Senate began debating whether or not to ratify the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities treaty, which would recognize fundamental human rights for persons living with disabilities on an international level. Continue reading “Republicans oppose global disability rights”
This isn’t exactly a huge surprise, given the behavior of American conservatives in recent months. But it’s official now. There will be no women running committees in the U.S. House of Representatives in its upcoming session. In fact, there will be no diversity whatsoever within the straight, white leadership.
As Politico reports today, “After a day of meetings closed to the public, the House Republican Steering Committee announced an all-male slate of committee chairs, including 12 returning lawmakers who will head up some of the most important panels in Washington. The chairs for the House Ethics Committee and House Administration Committee have yet to be chosen, so a woman could end up in one of those slots.
Continue reading “The house for straight white men”
In what follows, Elspeth Cameron Ritchie discusses PTSD with a degree of nuance not always seen in mainstream journalism. Ritchie notes her ambivalence over the frequency with which the diagnosis is assigned to milirary personnel, inasmuch as other disorders can go untreated as a consequence. As she writes, “This is the last in my series of posts on the ethics of treating posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (the first simply outlined ethical issues for military mental-health personnel; then I wrote about the right time to send a service member back into combat; Continue reading “Diagnostic quandaries and PTSD”
Sarah Kendzior offers thoughtful consideration of privacy issues raised in recent weeks surrounding Facebook and US CIA director David Petraeus in todays edition of Al Jazeera. Excerpted below are the opening paragraphs of her essay entitled “Why e-mail is and must remain private.”
“When I was a child, my grandfather offered me some advice: “Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want to read about in the newspaper”. To my nine-year-old self, this advice seemed strange, almost flattering. What could I possibly do that would be worthy of public interest? Why would anyone care? Continue reading “Considering internet privacy”
Child labor remains a vexing problem throughout the world. But labor unions in some nations are stepping up efforts to change things, as reported in today’s edition of The Guardian in a story entitled “Bolivia’s child workers unite to end exploitation.” As the story begins:
“Shining shoes, mining and herding animals among the many jobs done by an estimated 750,000 children between five and 17.Rodrigo Medrano Calle is a Bolivian labour leader who meets and lobbies top government officials for his constituency’s rights. That’s not surprising in a country Continue reading “Unions confront child labor in Latin America”
“I will not donate to the Salvation Army, but will instead give to other charities until the Salvation stops discriminating.”
The statement appears on vouchers circulating this week in opposition to the Salvation Army’s widely-known prejudices toward the LGBT community. As The Huffington Post reports,
“With the holiday shopping season in full swing, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle campaign is once again coming under intense scrutiny from lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocates. Continue reading “Bigotry is not a Christmas value”
At today’s United Nations Climate Change meeting in Doha, Qatar, American officials asserted the U.S. had made “enormous” advances that much of the world didn’t know about. As reported in The Guardian, American progress in climate change has resulted in part by the carbon reductions from its investments in the controversial practice of “fracking” for shale gas. As reported by Fiona Harvey,
“The claim came as nearly 200 governments gathered in Doha, Qatar, for two weeks of talks aimed at forging an agreement on the climate. Governments have until 2015 to draw up a binding treaty, the first since the 1997 Kyoto protocol, to cut greenhouse gas emissions and avoid dangerous global warming. Continue reading “U.S. claims “enormous” reductions in carbon emissions”
Ever wonder about how outrageous you can be in a Tweet or Facebook post? Well wonder no more and say hello to libel and slander litigation.
According to Slate.com, “A British politician is seeking damages from high-profile Twitter users who repeated or retweeted a false report linking him to child sex abuse.”
In “Can You Libel Someone on Twitter,” L.V. Anderson, “The former Conservative Party official, Alistair McAlpine, is also asking lower-profile Twitter users who libeled him to apologize and make a donation to charity. The United Kingdom is notorious for its plaintiff-friendly defamation laws—but what about in the United States?
“Could an American be sued for libel based on tweets, too?
Continue reading “You can be sued for what you tweet”
This month the United Nations declared access to contraception a basic human right. In its new State of World Population 2012 report titled “By Choice Not By Chance,” the U.N. addressed the issue of family planning and stressed the importance of making contraceptives accessible in developing countries. According to the UN, an estimated 222 million women worldwide at risk of unintended pregnancy.
The report stated that “voluntary family planning should be available to all, not just the wealthy or otherwise privileged.” That concept, of making accessible forms of contraception Continue reading “U.N. declares contraception a basic human right”
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Federal law enforcement authorities have announced the seizure of 132 domain names in several countries to stop them from selling counterfeit merchandise online. The Huffington Post reports :
The Cyber Monday crackdown comes on what’s expected to be the biggest online shopping day of the year. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations coordinated the effort with Europol and police in Belgium, Denmark, France, Romania and the United Kingdom.
Authorities say it’s the third consecutive Cyber Monday that websites selling knockoff sports jerseys, DVDs and other goods have been targeted.
They say sites were seized after copyright holders confirmed that products purchased there by investigators were illegal.
Site visitors now see a banner explaining the seizure and copyright infringement.
Homeland Security field offices in Buffalo, N.Y., New Jersey, California, Maryland, Colorado and Texas investigated.
Since President Obama took office in 2008, the CIA has killed 2,500 people with robotically controlled drones run by technicians housed in remote trailers. Anticipating a possible new regime in Washington, the administration accelerated work on a set of guidelines to give a new president standards and criteria for future killings. It’s worth noting, that 70 percent of the deaths have been civilian casualties, according to TruthOut (See, “Civilian Deaths From US Drone Attacks Much Higher Than Reported”
The secret drone policy under consideration was discussed in today’s Continue reading “The Obama murder manual”
The recent closings of hundreds of ancient brothels in India, while something of an economic victory for prostitutes, may one day cost them, and many others, their lives. The decentralization of prostitution has done little to curb demands for such services, which now is met on an ad hoc basis by individual prostitutes using cell phones to connect with clients. As reported in the New York Times:
“Millions once bought sex in the narrow alleys of Kamathipura, a vast red-light district here. But prostitutes with inexpensive mobile phones are luring customers elsewhere, and that is endangering the astonishing progress India has made against AIDS.
Continue reading “Cell phones raising HIV risks in India”
It seems that people are spending less time on the therapist’s couch these days, due to economic pressures and the availability of alternative resources. An estimated 30 percent drop in the psychotherapy business in the past decade has sent many shrinks scrambling to find clients by “niche” marketing their services.
As essay in today’s New York Times Magazine tells the story of one such therapist. Opening paragraphs from “The Branding Cure: My So-called Career as a Therapist” appears below
“Since the 1990s, managed care has increasingly limited visits and reimbursements for talk therapy but not for drug treatment; and in 2005 alone, pharmaceutical companies spent $4.2 billion on direct-to-consumer advertising and $7.2 billion on promotion to physicians, nearly twice what they spent on research and development. Continue reading “Therapists turn to branding as demand drops by 30 percent”
For a faith that has seen it’s share of bad publicity in recent years, the Catholic church seem moving in the right direction on at least one front. Today Pope Benedict XVI has officially named six new non-European cardinals to the body that will elect his successor, saying the move underlined the Catholic Church’s diversity.”
This the total number cardinals (of a total of 117) from outside Europe to 47 percent. Al Jazeera reports that “The 85-year-old pontiff presided over the ceremony in St Peter’s Basilica that elevated the six prelates to the Church’s College of Cardinals on Saturday.
The body “presents a variety of faces, because it expresses the face of the universal Church”, he said in a development that has been welcomed by critics concerned that the college has become increasingly Euro-centric under Benedict. Continue reading “Six non-European cardinals named”
“Here in Britain we’re currently marking Anti-Bullying Week, a national campaign to get schools to work harder to make playgrounds and classrooms safe and fun places to learn and grow up,” writes Sir Ian McKellan in an editorial appearing on today’s Huffington Post. “Those of us who were bullied at school, for whatever reason, will empathise keenly with young people who dread bullies’ taunts and violence. Bullying isn’t just a ‘rite of passage’ that we should expect as part of growing up. Its effects – low exam scores, depression and anxiety – can affect our whole adult lives. It’s appropriate that this year’s Anti-Bullying Week theme is ‘we’re better without bullying’. Continue reading “Ian McKellen on bullying”
There are signs that immigrants’ influence in the U.S. tech industry may be plateauing, as reported in a recent study by AnnaLee Saxenian of Berkeley and Vivek Wadhwa of Duke. Slate reports that the researchers found “that 43.9 percent of Silicon Valley startups launched in the past seven years had at least one key founder who was an immigrant. That’s a big number, but it’s a drop from 2005, when 52.4 percent of startups were immigrant-founded.
“The composition of immigrants in the Valley has shifted a bit, too. In Saxenian and Wadhwa’s ranking of countries that produced the most U.S.-based techies, Taiwan fell from fourth to 23rd. (The reasons for that drop—and the decline of immigrant-founders across the board—can be attributed in part to U.S. visa issues and burgeoning opportunities abroad.) At the same time, though, some tech insiders have seen Latin American-born entrepreneurs, a previously invisible cohort, begin to make their presence known in Silicon Valley. Continue reading “Immigrant numbers shifting in tech”
It had to happen: now you can major in cyberwarfare. As reported in today’s Los Angeles Times, “stalking is part of the curriculum in the Cyber Corps, an unusual two-year program at the University of Tulsa that teaches students how to spy in cyberspace, the latest frontier in espionage.
“Students learn not only how to rifle through trash, sneak a tracking device on cars and plant false information on Facebook. They also are taught to write computer viruses, hack digital networks, crack passwords, plant listening devices and mine data from broken cellphones and flash drives.
“It may sound like a Jason Bourne movie, but the little-known program has funneled most of its graduates to the CIA and the Pentagon’s National Security Agency, which conducts America’s digital spying. Other graduates have taken positions with the FBI, NASA and the Department of Homeland Security.
“The need for stronger cyber-defense — and offense — was highlighted when Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta warned in an Oct. 11 speech that a “a cyber-terrorist attack could paralyze the nation,” and that America needs experts to tackle the growing threat.
“’An aggressor nation or extremist group could gain control of critical switches and derail passenger trains, or trains loaded with lethal chemicals,’’ Panetta said. ‘They could contaminate the water supply in major cities, or shut down the power grid across large parts of the country.’
“Panetta said the Pentagon spends more than $3 billion annually for cyber-security. ‘Our most important investment is in skilled cyber-warriors needed to conduct operations in cyberspace,’ he said.
See full story in the Los Angeles Times, “Cyber Corps program trains spies for the digital age.”