News mash-up: November 14

Here are some of the things I would have, could have, should have written about recently:

  • New Westminster, British Columbia enacted a living wage by-law requiring that all employees who work on city property be paid at least $18.74.  Hopefully other Canadian cities join the movement towards paying people a wage that allows them to meet their needs and those of their families.
  • In an Illinois school, students wore ‘Straight Pride shirts including a scripture verse calling for homosexuality to be punished by death.  The school said it was a teachable moment: you can express your opinion as long as its respectful of everyone else. Last I checked, recommending death as a punishment isn’t exactly respectful.  I have no words to explain how ridiculous this is.
  • There’s an app for that: Now, your iPhone can tell you if you’re happy thanks to some professors at Harvard. Really what happens is that your iPhone will ask you about your happiness level at various points, your provide it with the information, and then it generates information about when you are the happiest.  If you are feeling out of tune with your emotions, turn to your iPhone for support.  Friends and real, live people are so 2009.
  • US data shows that kids with two lesbian parents reported no abuse over the 24 year study period.  In comparison, about 26% of children nationally experience abuse.  I agree with the post at feministing.org that ‘proving’ ‘non-traditional’ families (those who aren’t heterosexual) are good parents is a bad place to be, hopefully this will help people see that there is more than one way to do things well.  Heterosexual families don’t have all the answers.
  • Students in the capital of Tanzania designed their own sex education campaignn by painting murals on walls in public spaces. They play to gender norms, heterosexuality and monogamy, but they are by adolescents, for adolescents in a way that does not happen nearly enough.
  • Canada’s courts are faced with a monumental decision regarding consent: can someone pre-emptively consent to sexual activities that will occur while s/he is unconscious? The current definition of consent is being interpreted in a few different ways by those on either side of the debate, but it may come down to the fact that our current definition requires an awareness of what is going on so that either party may withdraw consent.  The argument is that if you don’t know what is happening, its difficult to stop it.
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