Customer claims that a fake-urinating toy sexually assaulted her at a restaurant

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Trouble at a a Tennessee restaurant. From The Independent:

Murfreesboro Police officers were dispatched to the Wasabi Japanese Steakhouse on a sexual assault complaint after a woman was sprayed with water by a toy that looks like a man peeing.

James Lassiter, the woman’s husband, told police that the toy had a penis and that he and his wife were upset because the act was done in front of their four children. However, police on the scene found that the fake-pee spraying toy did not come with a penis.

"People are missing the point. This was a sexually-oriented toy meant for adults, in front of minor children,” the Lassiters said in a statement. “We're not trying to make money off of this. If the toy was in a bar, it'd be a different situation, but this was in a family restaurant with 13 to 14-year-olds at the table. If people think it's so funny, why don't people go buy that toy and squirt a cop in the face with it and see what happens.”

Police have not filed charges yet.

The video interview of the assault victim and her husband is a must-watch. Here are some screen grabs:

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Sloppy statistics: Do 50% of Americans really think married women should be legally obligated to change their names?

Jill Filipovic wrote an opinion column for The Guardian yesterday, arguing against the practice of women taking their husbands' names when they get married. It ended up linked on Jezebel and found its way to my Facebook feed where one particular statistic caught my eye. Filipovic claimed that 50% of Americans think a women should be legally required to take her husband's name.

First, some quick clarification of my biases here. Although I write under a hyphenate, I never have legally changed my name. I've never had a desire to do so. In my private life, I'm just Maggie Koerth and always will be. That said, I personally take issue with the implication at the center of Filipovic's article — that women shouldn't change their names and that to do so makes you a bad feminist. For me, this is one of those personal decisions where I'm like, whatever. Make your own choice. Just because I don't get it doesn't mean you're wrong.

But just like I take objection to being all judgey about personal choices, I also take objection to legally mandating personal choices, and I was kind of blown away by the idea that 50% of my fellow Americans think my last name should be illegal.

So I looked into that statistic. And then I got really annoyed. Read the rest

CIA fake vaccine program will have wide-ranging effects on health of Pakistani children

Remember how the CIA used a phony vaccination campaign in order to collect DNA samples from Osama Bin Laden's family? (If this is news to you, there are lots of places to get the backstory. Suffice to say, it's morally grotesque. A doctor working with the CIA went around the region near the Bin Laden compound and gave inadequate doses of the vaccine, leaving behind kids whose parents thought they were protected from Hepatitis B, but who were, in fact, not.) This month, Taliban military leaders banned a U.S.-funded polio vaccination campaign from operating in the regions of Pakistan that they control. Polio is endemic in Pakistan. (Via Emily Willingham) Read the rest

Lies, damned lies, and flame-retardant furniture

All this week, The Chicago Tribune is posting a multi-part investigative report about the fire-retardant chemicals that turn up in everything from the foam in our couch cushions, to the plastic casings on our television sets. Turns out, research shows these chemicals don't actually prevent fire deaths and injuries. Worse, research does show that these chemicals are dangerous to human health—especially in the quantities to which we are exposed. Dose makes the poison, but we're not talking about small doses here. As the Tribune so succinctly puts it: This isn't something where we measure exposure in parts per million, it's measured in pounds.

The Tribune has also done a very good job of documenting both the existence and history of a pattern of corporate lies and manipulation that has made sure these chemicals remained a mandated part of our lives even as science shows they aren't helping us.

The lies are infuriating, but the history part is particularly fascinating. After all, it's easy to understand why chemical companies would lie and manipulate politics in order to maintain a lucrative market for their products. But why does that market exist, to begin with? Behind the scenes, our continued exposure to these chemicals comes down to two key issues: One poorly designed product safety test that encouraged heavy use of flame-retardants in foam instead of small doses of safer chemicals in fabric, and a 1970s-era attempt to deflect negative press away from cigarettes.

The problem facing cigarette manufacturers decades ago involved tragic deaths and bad publicity, but it had nothing to do with cancer.

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