Stuff YOU Should Know

Posted by on Aug 11, 2017 in Stuff You Should Know

New Rights for Women in Tunisia

Tunisia, a country in the Middle East, is not known for its equal treatment of women. In fact, in 2016, sixty percent of Tunisian women reported that they were victims of domestic violence. Fifty percent reported that they had been the victims of public aggression at least once in their lives. Seventy to ninety percent had experienced sexual harassment sometime during the previous four years.

First Lt. Dan Liu helps a Tunisian woman make flour in her home on the outskirts of the Sahara Desert as Capt. Laurie Wax watches during the officers recent four-week Language and Area Studies Immersion trip

Women in Tunisia are getting some protections from their government. Credit: U.S. Air Force

Last week, however, the Tunisian Parliament passed a law that will hopefully change some of these statistics. Under the new law, it now will be easier to arrest men for domestic abuse. Men will also be fined penalties for sexual harassment in public, and citizens will be required to report any sexual harassment or violence they witness to the police. Workplace discrimination is now punishable by a fine of up to $800. The age of sexual consent has been raised from 13 to 16 years old. The new legislation also tries to get to the root of the problem, by requiring that children learn about human rights in school, and by requiring police and judges to receive special training on how to deal with violence against women.

Though the new law is a step in the right direction, human rights groups are watching Tunisia carefully, hoping that the government will provide enough funding to actually enforce it.

Dig Deeper The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), adopted in 1979, is basically an international bill of rights for women around the world. Today, only seven nations haven’t ratified it yet. Using online resources, list these seven nations. Were you surprised by what you found? Why or why not?

Priebus Out

In the latest White House staff shake-up, chief of staff Reince Priebus was fired last week and replaced with Retired General John Kelly. For the past six months, General Kelly has been secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Traditionally, President Trump has surrounded himself with allies, choosing his biggest supporters as his closest advisers. With Kelly, though, he seems to be changing tactics. General Kelly has repeatedly criticized the Trump administration for being disorganized. He even threatened to quit in protest after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director. In the past six months, Kelly and Trump have butted heads several times when the White House has interfered in matters that Kelly believed to be the jurisdiction of the DHS.

Many people hope that Kelly, who is viewed as a strict disciplinarian and a no-nonsense straight talker, will impose order on a White House that has become far too chaotic. So far, this seems to be the case. Already, Kelly has fired Anthony Scaramucci, who was communications director for only ten days. He has also improved the level of professionalism in the White House by requiring everyone, including Trump’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, to check in with Kelly before meeting with the president. Kelly has stated that his job is not to oversee the president, but rather to oversee the president’s staff. However, there is much work to be done if Kelly is going to succeed at getting the new administration back on track. His first goals will be to stop media leaks, to try to limit the scope of the Russia investigations, and to make sure that policy is once again created in a disciplined and orderly way.

Dig Deeper Using internet resources, research General Kelly’s history. What were some of his greatest accomplishments? Why were some people pleased when he was appointed secretary of the DHS? Why were others unhappy? Do you think that Kelly will succeed in getting the Trump White House back on track? Why or why not?

Maine Raises Smoking Age

Do you have friends who smoke? Chances are, you do. Despite the fact that smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States, roughly 10.8 percent of high school students smoke. Some states–such as California, Hawaii, and  New Jersey–are trying to lower these numbers by raising the legal smoking age from 18 to 21. The most recent state to do this is Maine, which has one of the highest teen smoking rates in the country (11.2 percent). Under the new law, no one under 21 will be allowed to buy tobacco products, e-cigarettes, hookah pipes, or other smoking accessories.

The legislation was originally vetoed by Maine’s governor, Republican Paul R. LePage. LePage and others have argued that if 18-year-olds are old enough to be considered legal adults and to fight in the military, they also should have the right to smoke if they wish to. But the Maine legislature overrode the governor’s veto by a large margin. According to those in favor of the new legislation, smoking is a serious health concern and tobacco products are currently too easy to get hold of in high schools. Studies have found that smoking in high school makes a person much more likely to develop a lifelong addiction. So, experts reason, if tobacco products are less available in high schools, hopefully fewer people will become addicted. Currently, smoking accounts for about 20 percent of all deaths in the United States.

What Do You Think? Do you agree with Governor LePage that 18-year-olds are legal adults and should be allowed to smoke if they choose to? Or do you agree with the Maine legislature that limiting access is necessary to fight smoking as a public health crisis? Explain your answer.

Torch Tower Goes Up in Flames

What’s worse than one of the world’s tallest residential skyscraper catching fire?

That same skyscraper catching fire twice.

In 2015, the 1,100-foot tall Torch Tower in Dubai caught fire. About sixty of the building’s 84 floors were damaged. Parts of the skyscraper were still being repaired when it caught fire for a second time this past Friday, just after midnight. In both instances, authorities blame the exterior siding of the building, which is made of aluminum but has a flammable plastic core.

The good news is that no one was killed or even seriously injured in Friday’s blaze. (Amazing, considering that the building holds 682 residential units and that the fire broke out after midnight, when many people were already sleeping.) But the bad news is that such a thing could easily happen again. In recent years, the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, have seen massive growth. Unfortunately, this rapid development means that at least 30,000 other skyscrapers across the region have been built with the same flammable siding as Torch Tower. Several have already caught fire. While new safety regulations were put into place after the 2015 Torch Tower fire, they don’t always apply to older buildings. It remains to be seen whether or not Friday’s blaze will have any impact on building safety codes in Dubai.

What Do You Think?: You can watch footage of Friday’s fire by clicking this link. Were you surprised at how quickly the building burned? Imagine that you live in Dubai. Do you think the country should have stricter safety laws for residential skyscrapers? Write a letter to your local newspaper voicing your opinion.