Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Supreme Court Hears Case of 13-Yr. Girl Strip-Searched by School Officials

Is this an outrageous or what? Strip searching a 13-year old girl because she might have prescription-strength ibuprofen!

NPR reports:

The Supreme Court seemed worried Tuesday about tying the hands of school officials looking for drugs and weapons on campus as they wrestled with the appropriateness of a strip-search of a 13-year-old girl accused of having prescription-strength ibuprofen.

Savana Redding was 13 when Safford, Ariz., Middle School officials, on a tip from another student, ordered her to remove her clothes and shake out her underwear looking for pills. The district bans prescription and over-the-counter drugs.
Her lawyer argued to the Supreme Court that such a "intrusive and traumatic" search would be unconstitutional in every circumstance if school administrators were not directly told the contraband was in her underwear.

NPR also reports:

Vice Principal Kerry Wilson took Redding to his office to search her backpack. When nothing was found, Redding was taken to a nurse's office where she says she was ordered to take off her shirt and pants. Redding said they then told her to move her bra to the side and to stretch her underwear waistband, exposing her breasts and pelvic area. No pills were found.

I find this intrusive search for a possible prescription drug to be an outrageous violation of her rights. Wasn’t it sufficient to check her bag and pockets? How could one ibuprofen be such a threat to the school that a strip search was necessary?

Furthermore, since she had to bare her breasts and pelvic area, I find this very close to rape and child abuse. Granted there was no physical contact or penetration, but think of the extreme personal embarrassment and the visual violation of one’s “private parts.” Rape is not a sexual crime; it is a crime of power – a person in a position of greater power violates the private parts of another.

This is just another example of women of all ages can becoming the victims of abuse of our right to privacy.

In my view, this school official should be liable for sexual abuse!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Afghan women march to protest restrictions

Women in Kabal, Afghanistan marched to protest Taliban-like restrictions passed by the Parliament. As reported in the Boston Globe, these restrictictions on women would allow such practices as marital rape -- a woman cannot say "no" to her husband's sexual demands.

This is a nation where most women are uneducated, and where the Taliban burn schools that educate girls and harrass and even harm girls who try to go to school.

These brave women were met by a mob of men yelling "Get out of here, you whores."

The contrast in freedom is so striking. Here in the US as in much of Europe and other nations, women are educated, travel independently, can choose to live alone or with a partner of their choosing(even one of either sex), and work to independely support oneself. In parts of Afghanistan (and now parts of Pakistan, too), women cannot travel unescorted, cannot work to support themselves, and cannot even divorce from their husbands should they be abusive.

Even in the US, there was a time years ago when women were 2nd class citizens, couldn't vote or own land, and were little more than the property of their husbands. But brave women stood up and protested, and won the freedom that women enjoy today.

We should all honor the stuggle of these brave women in Kabul and hope someday their daughters will enjoy the freedoms they fought for.

Captain Freed from Pirates (But Are We Satisfied with the Outcome?)

The Obama Administration took the cool, calculated approach to freeing Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk-Alabama. This wasn't Jack Bauer. Or Mission Impossible. No shock and awe.

But look at the outcome:
  • The ship reached its destination with the entire crew, less their captain
  • The captain was freed unharmed
  • No ransom was paid
  • The pirates: 1 captured, 3 dead

Clearly the score is US 1, Pirates 0.

But somehow I suspect that many are not satisfied about the military approach. No going in with guns blazing. No retaliatory bombing of suspected pirate holdouts in Somalia. Rather, the military tried negotiations and then, when the opportunity presented itself, took out the 3 pirates simply and efficiently with just 3 shots.

I, for one, prefer the "think first, act deliberately" approach rather than the "act first -- just do something" approach.

But will the American public be satisfied with military success with a limited expenditure of adrenaline?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

We're Going Up?

Just after I blogged about the economy going down, what happens? It goes up! Ah, the joy of being a pessimist!.

(Being an engineer, I get paid to think about what might go wrong, so being a pessimist is a occupational hazard!)

MSNBC proclaimed today: "Dow ends at almost 2-month high." Quoting that byline: "The stock market rally continued Thursday, driving the Dow Jones industrials above the 8,000 mark for the first time since February and to its highest close in nearly two months."

Maybe I can put that Bruce Springsteen song on hold for a while.