In a story that could easily be a skit for Saturday Night Live, the leading public relations firm MWW has hired former Congressman Anthony Weiner to give advice to the firm which specializes on “crisis communications.” Presumably MWW clients will identify with someone who created his own crises and then managed them. The only problem is that Weiner managed his self-inflicted crises not just badly but disastrously . . . over and over again.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has long been a target of civil libertarians criticizing his dismissive attitude toward basic rights and particularly speech and privacy rights in that country. As if to prove his critics right, Cameron has publicly made comments that can be best described as Orwellian and some have gone as far as describing as fascistic. In calling for new extensive powers, Cameron said “For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance.” It seemed like a scene out of V for Vendetta as Cameron called on citizens to give up their rights to fight the threat of terror.
In a controversial move, Seattle is pushing to establish new financing packages that conform with Sharia law to allow greater homeownership among Muslims. Islam prohibits the payment of interest and some Muslims are therefore unable to buy homes under standard mortgage agreements. The most for more inclusive options has led to a backlash by critics who charge that it could be a new avenue for terrorist financing or constitute special treatment for one religion.
There is a criminal case that is truly a reflection of our changing times. A 70-year-old transgender woman named Richelle Dee McDonald was convicted of stealing nearly $250,000 in federal disability benefits. What makes this different is that it was committed by both Richelle and Richard McDonald, who are one and the same. McDonald applied for benefits as a man while working simultaneously as a woman during much of the same period she was receiving SSI payments.
Saudi Arabia has given the world another bizarre example of life under the strict Islamic code and values of the Kingdom. The Talaee Al-Noor International School in Riyadh painted an inviting and playful rainbow image on its building. The Kingdom’s religious police quickly swooped in an arrested the administrator, fined the school $25,000, and ordered the facade painted over. The reason? Rainbows are seen as “emblems Of homosexuality.” It is not clear what the religious police will do with naturally occurring rainbows.
As an academic, I am often cautious about stories criticizing scientific studies due to some esoteric or humorous subject matter. However, I must confess that I am perplexed by the scientific basis or value of a U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) study to understand why lesbians are supposedly fat. The government has spent over $3.5 million thus far on the study, “Sexual Orientation and Obesity: A Test of a Gendered Biopsychosocial Model.” [Some reports however put the original grant at $1.5 million] The study seeks to determine why there is a disparity in the obesity rates between straight women and lesbian women and straight men and gay men.