Good, though somewhat gross, commentary on being sick and what the proper etiquette is when in public. Coworkers, students, travelers, and all those others who don’t think they should stay home when suffering from the flu: take notes.
State Representative calls girl, who has been escorted by police to school, ‘an evil little thing’By ABBY GOODNOUGH
CRANSTON, R.I. — She is 16, the daughter of a firefighter and a nurse, a self-proclaimed nerd who loves Harry Potter and Facebook. But Jessica Ahlquist is also an outspoken atheist who has incensed this heavily Roman Catholic city with a successful lawsuit to get a prayer removed from the wall of her high school auditorium, where it has hung for 49 years.
A federal judge ruled this month that the prayer’s presence at Cranston High School West was unconstitutional, concluding that it violated the principle of government neutrality in religion.
In the weeks since, residents have crowded school board meetings to demand an appeal, Jessica has received online threats and the police have escorted her at school, and Cranston, a dense city of 80,000 just south of Providence, has throbbed with raw emotion.
State Representative Peter G. Palumbo, a Democrat from Cranston, called Jessica “an evil little thing” on a popular talk radio show. Three separate florists refused to deliver her roses sent from a national atheist group. The group, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, has filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Commission for Human Rights.
“I was amazed,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the foundation, which is based in Wisconsin and has given Jessica $13,000 from support and scholarship funds. “We haven’t seen a case like this in a long time, with this level of revilement and ostracism and stigmatizing.”
Written by seventh grader
The prayer, eight feet tall, is papered onto the wall in the Cranston West auditorium, near the stage. It has hung there since 1963, when a seventh grader wrote it as a sort of moral guide and that year’s graduating class presented it as a gift. It was a year after a landmark Supreme Court ruling barring organized prayer in public schools.
“Our Heavenly Father,” the prayer begins, “grant us each day the desire to do our best, to grow mentally and morally as well as physically, to be kind and helpful.” It goes on for a few more lines before concluding with “Amen.”
For Jessica, who was baptized in the Catholic Church but said she stopped believing in God at age 10, the prayer was an affront. “It seemed like it was saying, every time I saw it, ‘You don’t belong here,’ ” she said the other night during an interview at a Starbucks here.
Since the ruling, the prayer has been covered with a tarp. The school board has indicated it will announce a decision on an appeal next month.
A friend brought the prayer to Jessica’s attention in 2010, when she was a high school freshman. She said nothing at first, but before long someone else — a parent who remained anonymous — filed a complaint with the American Civil Liberties Union.
That led the Cranston school board to hold hearings on whether to remove the prayer, and Jessica spoke at all of them. She also started a Facebook page calling for the prayer’s removal (it now has almost 4,000 members) and began researching Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious freedom.
Last March, at a rancorous meeting that Judge Ronald R. Lagueux of United States District Court in Providence described in his ruling as resembling “a religious revival,” the school board voted 4-3 to keep the prayer. Some members said it was an important piece of the school’s history; others said it reflected secular values they held dear.
The Rhode Island chapter of the A.C.L.U. then asked Jessica if she would serve as a plaintiff in a lawsuit; it was filed the next month.
New England is not the sort of place where battles over the division of church and state tend to crop up. It is the least religious region of the country, according to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. But Rhode Island is an exception: it is the nation’s most Catholic state, and dust-ups over religion are not infrequent.
Just last month, several hundred people protested at the Statehouse after Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an independent, lighted what he called a “holiday tree.”
In Cranston, the police said they would investigate some of the threatening comments posted on Twitter against Jessica, some of which came from students at the high school. Pat McAssey, a senior who is president of the student council, said the threats were “completely inexcusable” but added that Jessica had upset some of her classmates by mocking religion online.
“Their frustration kind of came from that,” he said.
Many alumni this week said they did not remember the prayer from their high school days but felt an attachment to it nonetheless.
“I am more of a constitutionalist but find myself strangely on the other side of this,” said Donald Fox, a 1985 graduate of Cranston West. “The prayer banner espouses nothing more than those values which we all hope for our children, no matter what school they attend or which religious background they hail from.”
Brittany Lanni, who graduated from Cranston West in 2009, said that no one had ever been forced to recite the prayer and called Jessica “an idiot.”
“If you don’t believe in that,” she said, “take all the money out of your pocket, because every dollar bill says, ‘In God We Trust.’”
Raymond Santilli, whose family owns one of the flower shops that refused to deliver to Jessica, said he declined for safety reasons, knowing the controversy around the case. People from around the world have called to support or attack his decision, which he said he stood by. But of Jessica, he said, “I’ve got a daughter, and I hope my daughter is as strong as she is, O.K.?”
Jessica said she had stopped believing in God when she was in elementary school and her mother fell ill for a time.
“I had always been told that if you pray, God will always be there when you need him,” she said. “And it didn’t happen for me, and I doubted it had happened for anybody else. So yeah, I think that was just like the last step, and after that I just really didn’t believe any of it.”
Does she empathize in any way with members of her community who want the prayer to stay?
“I’ve never been asked this before,” she said. A pause, and then: “It’s almost like making a child get a shot even though they don’t want to. It’s for their own good. I feel like they might see it as a very negative thing right now, but I’m defending their Constitution, too.”
Jen McCaffery contributed reporting.
I am not Catholic, but I attended a Catholic high school for one year when I was growing up. I know this is a different scenario because this was a private school, but this experience did exposed me to religious ideas that I did not support and opinions that were not part of my particular belief system. What is wrong with hearing and viewing something that has to do with another religion, respecting that it is someone else’s belief, and then going on with your life and continuing to believe whatever you wish? Just because you do not agree with something doesn’t mean you need to take it away from those who do.
I’m not saying I support forcing religion on anyone – I do not support that at all. But seriously, people need to tone it down with the attacks on religion. If you don’t like the pledge of allegiance, just don’t say it. If you don’t like that a courthouse has some engraving that says the word “God” on it, don’t read it. Nobody is forcing you to do these things. You have free will, which the government respects, so you in turn should respect the beliefs of others.
Obviously this is a very controversial issue, but I figured I’d share some of the comments that were below the article. It’s interesting to read the differing opinions of the readers.
Thank you, MSNBC, for providing me with my morning entertainment today.
By Anna Chan
She’s not sexy and she doesn’t know it!
That’s what “Toddlers & Tiaras” pageant mom Susanna Barrett insists about her 5-year-old glam princess Isabella. Barrett claims that after a video of her little girl singing LMFAO’s “I’m Sexy and I Know It” at a night spot surfaced, several media outlets tried to turn the non-sexual performance into something inappropriate, and she’s suing mad.
According to the New York Daily News, Barrett filed a $30 million libel lawsuit on Tuesday in Manhattan. She claims that TMZ, The Huffington Post and the Daily Mail described the little girl’s act as “gyrating in a nightclub and singing about her sex appeal” when in fact Isabella was sitting during the song.
“(Isabella) did not understand the concept of sex, let alone ‘sex appeal’ and could not have been singing about her own sex appeal,” Barrett said in her lawsuit. Instead, “it is the defendants who, through their articles, have thrust these false and vulgar characteristics on to Isabella,” according to the suit. ”As a result, Isabella is now perceived sexually, erotically and pornographically, and (the stories) have placed Isabella in serious physical danger, attracting the attention of others who would seek to sexualize a child.”
Not long after the video surfaced, Barrett defended Isabella’s videotaped performance to TMZ. She explained that the little girl was at New York’s Libation for a pet charity event and started singing when the DJ invited her up, but that they left at the reasonable hour of 9 p.m.
As for how the 5-year-old knows the lyrics to the LMFAO tune? “We just listen to the radio, and that’s a real catchy song,” she told TMZ at the time.
Do you agree with Susanna that it’s the websites’ fault for sexualizing Isabella’s performance? Tell us what you think on our Facebook page.
What a joke. So you decide to make your child a reality TV star by forcing her to get spray tans, wear false lashes, put in false teeth, cake on the makeup, and strut her stuff (her 5-year-old “stuff”) down a catwalk. Then you have the audacity to sue the media for “sexualizing” her. The media is not who made her perform “I’m Sexy And I Know It” on national TV, honey.
These mothers truly need to seek therapy — I completely do not understand why they seem to live vicariously through their toddlers and why they are so desperate for attention.
“We’re trying really hard to make things better,” said one former Apple executive. “But most people would still be really disturbed if they saw where their iPhone comes from.” -Excerpt from NYT article
The New York Times just published a SEVEN PAGE article about the disgusting labor conditions in Chinese Apple factories. It is extremely long, and very detailed, so I will not paste the article here in its entirety. However, I have highlighted some of the most shocking allegations below:
“Employees work excessive overtime, in some cases seven days a week, and live in crowded dorms. Some say they stand so long that their legs swell until they can hardly walk.”
”Shifts ran 24 hours a day, and the factory was always bright. At any moment, there were thousands of workers standing on assembly lines or sitting in backless chairs, crouching next to large machinery, or jogging between loading bays. Some workers’ legs swelled so much they waddled.”
After rioting in the dorms due to labor conditions, “…trash cans were removed, and piles of rubbish — and rodents — became a problem.”
“Companies like H.P. and Intel and Nike push their suppliers. But Apple wants to keep an arm’s length, and Foxconn is their most important manufacturer, so they refuse to push.”
”The sanding area was loud and hazy with aluminum dust. Workers wore masks and earplugs, but no matter how many times they showered, they were recognizable by the slight aluminum sparkle in their hair and at the corners of their eyes.” (This dust is a known safety hazard.)
“Over the next two years, at least 18 other Foxconn workers attempted suicide or fell from buildings in manners that suggested suicide attempts.”
A recent investigation “…reported on workers’ long hours, push-ups meted out as punishment and crowded dorms.”
“…many of the company’s dorms, where 70,000 Foxconn workers lived, at times stuffed 20 people to a three-room apartment, employees said.
There are “large numbers of employees laboring more than six days a week as well as working extended overtime. Some workers received less than minimum wage or had pay withheld as punishment. Apple found 70 core violations over that period, including cases of involuntary labor, under-age workers, record falsifications, improper disposal of hazardous waste and over a hundred workers injured by toxic chemical exposures.”
There is outrage over “…some suppliers’ disregard for workers’ health. Two years ago, 137 workers at an Apple supplier in eastern China were injured after they were ordered to use a poisonous chemical to clean iPhone screens.”
“…within 93 facilities, at least half of workers exceeded the 60-hours-a-week work limit. At a similar number, employees worked more than six days a week. There were incidents of discrimination, improper safety precautions, failure to pay required overtime rates and other violations. That year, four employees were killed and 77 injured in workplace explosions.“
“The day of the deadly explosion: “At the hospital, Mr. Lai’s girlfriend saw that his skin was almost completely burned away. “I recognized him from his legs, otherwise I wouldn’t know who that person was,” she said. [...] Over 90 percent of his body had been seared.” (He later died of these injuries.)
“…seven months after the blast that killed Mr. Lai, another iPad factory exploded, this one in Shanghai. Once again, aluminum dust was the cause, according to interviews and Apple’s most recent supplier responsibility report. That blast injured 59 workers, with 23 hospitalized.”
“We’ve known about labor abuses in some factories for four years, and they’re still going on,” said one former Apple executive who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. “Why? Because the system works for us. Suppliers would change everything tomorrow if Apple told them they didn’t have another choice.”
By Rick Martin and Michael Martinez, CNN
(CNN) — A 44-year-old New Orleans man died in front of his two sons Wednesday after he responded to a woman’s screams and was shot by an apparent carjacker, according to police and family members.
Harry “Mike” Ainsworth was with his two sons, ages 9 and 10, as the boys were waiting for a morning school bus, Ainsworth’s brother, Bill, told CNN affiliate WWL.
The two boys saw their father try to help the female motorist in the Algiers Point neighborhood and, after their father was shot, the boys ran to him and sat with him until emergency responders showed up, Bill Ainsworth said.
“They were there with him when he passed,” Ainsworth said. “It’s going to be hard on them.”
“Pray the cops find him before I do,” he said about the carjacker, in an interview with CNN affiliate WDSU.
The series of events began when a carjacker approached a woman motorist sitting in her vehicle, knocked on the window and asked for the time, New Orleans police said.
As the woman turned to check the time, the carjacker pulled out a handgun and told the woman to get out of the automobile, police said.
Ainsworth then jumped on the hood of the vehicle, and the carjacker shot him, left the car and ran, police said.
Police released a sketch of the suspect and were offering a $5,000 reward to anonymous tipsters who can help detectives find a black man, in his 20s, between 5-6 and 5-8 in height, and weighing 140 to 150 pounds, detectives said.
The woman was unharmed, New Orleans police spokesman Frank Robertson said.
“When you have someone trying to come to the aid of someone who is in need and — whenever something like this happens, it’s a real tragedy,” police Lt. Gary Marchese told WWL.
Skip Gallagher, president of the Algiers Point Neighborhood Association, told WDSU that good Samaritans aren’t unusual in the neighborhood.
“I think any other male that had heard that in the neighborhood would have done the same thing,” Gallagher said. “They heard some woman screaming, they would have come running. I would have, and every male in this neighborhood would have done the same thing, and we see what happens.
“I’m not sure it’s going to change my behavior.”
Feel compelled to help? I definitely do. These children will now be growing up without a father because he tried to help a woman in danger.
Ainsworth Family fund
Whitney Bank – Algiers Branch
501 Verret Street
New Orleans, Louisiana 70114
Yikes. This mayor just landed himself in a whole lot of hot water.
So, so sweet.