Spotlight Thursday: May 20 - May 26
by Kathleen Wang
This week’s collection of breaking news ranges from a 176,000 year old geological excavation and a multi-state movement against the transgender policy to new anti-bullying laws in North Carolina and the upcoming summer Olympics. Want to know more? See our coverage on these hot topics below.
2016 SUMMER OLYMPICS: (May 25th, 2016) Brazil investigating possible corruption at Olympic venues
Brazilian investigators have expanded their investigation of possible corruption in the staging of the Olympic Games to include all venues and services financed with federal funds. Although prosecutors have previously focused exclusively on the “legacy” of modernization projects not directly tied to the Games, the long history of corruption in Rio de Janeiro has prompted officials to further their search.
This pending corruption problem just underscores the massive underprepared mess that is Rio de Janeiro. On top of its long history of corruption, Rio de Janeiro’s bodies of water, the same ones used for many Olympic aquatic events, are heavily contaminated with sewage and remain badly polluted. Obviously, the recent outbreak of the ZIKA virus in Brazil did not help. In addition to massive health concerns, the 2016 Olympics further highlight the mess that is the Brazilian government. The games have turned the world’s attention on Brazil, and with it, to the pending impeachment trial of President Dilma Rousseff.
ANTI BULLYING POLICY: (May 25, 2016) School district in North Carolina is considering a ban on skinny jeans and leggings to stop appearance based bullying.
The New Hanover County School System in North Carolina’s Wilmington area proposed a new rule to ban skinny jeans and leggings in its schools, after some heavier girls were bullied on account of wearing tight jeans. The new rule, however, allow students to wear skinny jeans if a shirt or dress covers “the posterior in its entirety.”
This proposed new rule has not only been met with fierce opposition from students across the area, but is also fundamentally flawed. Bullying has been a problem across the nation for decades, and the problem certainly isn’t the victims. It isn’t because the victim “looks too fat” or “acts too funny” that causes bullying and the consequent harm; it’s the nature of the bullies and their lack of sympathy. Logically, making the victims “appear more normal” by banning skinny jeans that make them “look fat’ will not fix the problem. This solution is synonymous with trying to fix a leaking roof – instead of fixing the ceiling, we are only covering the wet spots on the floor; a short, unsustainable solution.
GEOLOGICAL HISTORY: (May 25, 2016) Geologists have excavated ancient ring-like structures that date back 176,000 years ago, to the age of the Neanderthals.
As Nature journal described yesterday, in Bruniquel Cave, a cave in southwestern France, geologists unearthed mysterious, ring-like structures that scientists believe were built by Neanderthals 176,000 years ago – more than 130,000 years before the first modern humans arrived in Europe. The structures, made from mineral formations broken off from the cave floor, weigh up to a total of 2.4 tons. Although red and black soot smudges and other evidence of fires can be found inside the structures, experts still cannot identify the exact purpose they served; whether some type of domestic use of a ritual/symbolic behavior.
This recent excavation is just further proof of the rich history of humanity, and our ever changing perceptions of our own history. The structures, which may indicate ancient fires, may prove Neanderthals had a better control of fires than experts initially predicted, and further underscore just how little we actually know about ourselves and our history.
DOMESTIC TRANSGENDER POLICIES: (May 25, 2016) 11 states have moved to file a lawsuit in federal court after recent transgender initiatives.
The Obama administration recently told the nation’s public schools that they must honor the choices of transgender students regarding bathroom directives. However, just two weeks later, 11 states have filed lawsuits in federal court to block the directive. Led by Texas (no surprise there), the states explains that the federal government is turning schools and workplaces “laboratories for a massive social experiment” and “running roughshod over commonsense policies protecting children and basic privacy rights.”
The battle over transgender and LGBTQ+ rights come after North Carolina passed the HB2 law, one that restricts transgender rights regarding bathroom usage. Opponents, such as the ACLU, have labeled the lawsuit “a political stunt,” and some legal experts said the lawsuits filed too soon, though they add the issue is soon to be properly heard in courts. This new wave of debate cannot come at a more crucial time: the presidential elections coming in the next few months might just decide the future of transgender rights.