It’s one thing to park in a disabled parking space, shameful as that is, but it’s quite another to dress your pooch up as a service dog, as reports Huffington Post:
“By strapping a vest or backpack that says “service animal” to their pet, anyone can go in stores and restaurants where other dogs are banned, creating growing problems for the disabled community and business owners and leading to calls for better identifying the real deal.
“Those with disabilities are worried about privacy and the safety of their highly trained service dogs, while business owners are concerned about health violations and damage to merchandise from impostors abusing the system.
“Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, it’s a federal crime to use a fake dog. And about a fourth of all states have laws against service animal misrepresentation. But privacy protections built into the laws make it nearly impossible to prosecute offenders. It’s even more difficult because no papers are legally required for real service dogs. Often, people who want to take their pets into restaurants or retail stores just go online to buy vests, backpacks or ID cards with a “service animal” insignia.
“The law says those entering businesses with animals can be asked just two questions: Is this a service dog? What is it trained to do for you?
“Efforts to make the law more prosecutable have begun, but few agree on what will work best. Ideas range from ditching privacy to doing nothing.
“Corey Hudson, chief executive officer of Canine Companions for Independence in San Rafael and president of Assistance Dogs International, a coalition of training schools, is leading the effort to get the U.S. Department of Justice involved. He started writing to the agency 18 months ago but has not received a response.
“Hudson wants to open talks and explore ways to identify the real from the phony. Continue reading “Fake service dogs”
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s announcement just weeks before leaving office that he would bring an end to the policy of excluding women from combat assignments surprised, well, everyone. To call this move historic is to put it mildly. Today’s Huffington Post carried the following article on the last frontier’s of military equality: the ability of transgender service people to serve openly:
“Not long after that, he made history again, bringing a measure of equity to the benefits offered to same-sex military families before leaving D.C. to return to his much-loved walnut farm in California. History will remember Panetta’s tenure at the Defense Department favorably for these decisions to change policies that no longer reflected the reality of our wars or, just as importantly, the values of our nation.
“As a woman veteran, I was elated with these changes. As the wife of a woman veteran (my wife Danyelle was a West Point classmate of mine and served as an Army officer with honor and distinction), I felt encouraged by them.
“But as a transgender veteran, and an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) service members, veterans and their families, the changes that Secretary Panetta brought about in his last days in office have left me emboldened. Here’s why: As the combat exclusion for women comes to an end and open service for gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans edges closer to truly equal service, it becomes more and more obvious that there is no longer any rational basis on which to bar qualified transgender people from serving in our armed forces. Continue reading “On transgender military service”
Blame it on Amazon.com.
In an age when hard-copy mail seems out of date, people under 30 are the biggest protesters to canceling Saturday mail deliveries in the U.S. It seems getting those one-day package deliveries must be habit-forming. African-Americans of all ages don’t like the idea either. But it seems older white people just don’t care much either way, as Pew reports from its most recent survey:
“A majority of Americans (54%) approve of the U.S. Postal Service’s recent decision to halt Saturday delivery of letters, while 32% disapprove of the decision. The planned end of Saturday mail delivery is a rare government decision that garners bipartisan support – 58% of independents approve of the action, as do 57% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats. Continue reading “Who cares about Saturday mail delivery?”
Nearly three-quarters of Americans say that, given the opportunity, they would vote “for” allowing women to serve in combat roles.These results are from a Gallup survey conducted just after U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the Pentagon is lifting the ban on women serving in direct combat. Gallup states that:”The findings, from a quick-reaction poll conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking on Jan. 24, also show that men and women are equally likely to favor allowing women to serve in combat roles.
“There are modest partisan differences. Democrats, including independents who lean Democratic, are more likely than Republicans and Republican leaners to support allowing women to serve in combat — 83% vs. 70% — although clear majorities from both parties favor it. Those who are younger are more likely to favor the policy than are those who are older. Among those aged 18 to 49, 84% favor the policy, compared with 63% of those aged 50 and older — a difference of 21 percentage points. Continue reading “Strong public support for women in combat”
Dogs do it all for the military: sniff for bombs, detect narcotics and rescue hapless humans. But to recruit the best canine squadmates, the Pentagon’s blue-sky researchers are working on a plan to scan their brains — and figure out how dogs think. Belly rubs won’t cut it anymore.
According to a new research solicitation from Darpa, the project — adorably called FIDOS, for “Functional Imaging to Develop Outstanding Service-Dogs” — touts the idea of using magnetic image resonators (or MRIs) to “optimize the selection of ideal service dogs” by scanning their brains to find the smartest candidates. “Real-time neural feedback” will optimize canine training. That adds up to military pooches trained better, faster and — in theory — at a lower cost than current training methods of $20,000, using the old-fashioned methods of discipline-and-reward. Continue reading “Pentagon scanning brains of dog recruits”
Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) today announced research findings showing the usefulness of self-help books for the treatment of mental health conditions like depression.
“Patients offered books, plus sessions guiding them in how to use them, had lower levels of depression a year later than those offered usual GP care,” reports the BBC.
“The effect was seen in addition to the benefits of other treatments such as antidepressants, Scottish researchers report in the journal Plos One. Such an approach may help the NHS tackle demand for therapy, they said.
“More than 200 patients who had been diagnosed with depression by their GP took part in the study, half of whom were also on antidepressant drugs. Some were provided with a self-help guide dealing with different aspects of depression, such as being assertive or overcoming sleep problems.Patients also had three sessions with an adviser who helped them get the most out of the books and plan what changes to make. After four months those who had been prescribed the self-help books had significantly lower levels of depression than those who received usual GP care. Continue reading “Self-help books seem to work for depression”