Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News, Commentary and Blog posts from the Independent Women's Foundation.(...)IWF RSS shouldn't ignore the differences between smoking traditional tobacco products and vaping • Bold TV GunlockFri, 25 May 2018 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSucked into Eco-Activism: McDonald’s May Ban the Plastic Straw<p> Call it eco-silly.</p> <div> The humble plastic drinking straw is now on the chopping block as the latest target of the country&rsquo;s eco-warriors. And while everyone can agree on the importance of clean oceans and eliminating waste &mdash; the alternatives to plastic straws leave a lot to be desired.</div> <div> &nbsp;</div> <div> A shareholder proposal will be presented to McDonald&rsquo;s on Thursday to stop its use of plastic straws altogether in the U.S., and to offer alternatives, multiple outlets&nbsp;<a href="">reported</a>. The mammoth international restaurant chain already announced in March it would phase out plastic straws from its 1,300 U.K. restaurants and begin a trial of paper straws in some of locations starting in May, reported&nbsp;<a href=";utm_campaign=foodandwine&amp;;utm_medium=social"></a>.</div> <div> <p> The fast food chain will also begin keeping straws behind the counter in Britain &mdash; meaning customers will have to ask for them if they&rsquo;d like them.</p> <p> Here are the options McDonald&rsquo;s&nbsp;<a href="">might be presented with at the meeting</a>: straws made of bamboo; paper; steel; or glass; and one made of actual straw (presumably known as a straw-straw). Other options include a water bottle or a reusable cup and straw &mdash; can you say &ldquo;hotbed of germs&rdquo;?&nbsp;&mdash; and of course, foregoing the straw all together.</p> <p> The company would like its shareholders to vote against the straw study proposal. &ldquo;We continue to work to find a more sustainable solution for plastic straws globally,&rdquo; the chain said in a statement Monday. &ldquo;In the meantime, we have adopted compostable straws in certain markets to meet regulations while we work with packaging experts to develop a planet-friendly, cost-effective answer for all McDonald&rsquo;s restaurants.&rdquo;</p> <p> Last year McDonald&rsquo;s debuted an exclusive, highly-engineered straw dubbed the &ldquo;Suction Tube for Reverse Axial Withdrawal,&rdquo; or STRAW, for short. The name took longer to say than the actual length of time the STRAW was around: It was only available for two days, February 24th and March 1st, with a scant 2,000 of them spread across the entire country.</p> <p> Sometimes its better to leave well enough alone. Bamboo seems a front-runner for the Golden Arches and others who want to put the plastic straw on the trash heap of history.</p> <p> &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know where you&rsquo;re going to get these bamboo straws,&rdquo; Jeff Stier, senior fellow at the Consumer Choice Center in Washington, D.C., told LifeZette. &ldquo;I don&rsquo;t know what planet they&rsquo;re on by saying we&rsquo;re going to save the oceans by switching to some of these outlandish alternatives.&rdquo;</p> <p> If activist groups want to use only bamboo straws and only frequent the establishments using those items, Stier says, they are free to do so right now.</p> <p> &ldquo;But I think with all of these plastic straw alternatives, we ought to read these activist claims as if it were the last straw,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;We should stop believing these claims that we are destroying the earth by using convenient products.&rdquo;</p> <p> Stier is not alone in his thinking. <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, director of the Center for Progress and Innovation at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, also in Washington, D.C., has no problem with plastic &mdash; straws or otherwise.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I suppose it&rsquo;s fine if a company wants to switch to these paper straws, but if anybody has used one, you know they tend to disintegrate, and McDonald&rsquo;s is well-known for ginormous drinks,&rdquo; Gunlock told LifeZette. &ldquo;I can just imagine the mouth injuries when you hand your child a glass straw and they munch into it, or it breaks and they cut their finger or their mouth &mdash; or, God forbid, they ingest glass.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> This is hardly convenient &mdash; hardly what anyone needs.</p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Also, there is a reason plastic straws were invented,&rdquo; she added. &ldquo;They&rsquo;re fantastic, they don&rsquo;t disintegrate, and they last a long time, so I think this would be frustrating for consumers and for businesses.&quot;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Even then, Gunlock doesn&rsquo;t put it past McDonald&rsquo;s agreeing to ban plastic straws, adding that large corporations often like to do certain things for publicity.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> One could make the argument that businesses and consumers could just go without a straw. However, some people want a straw, as they believe it helps protect their teeth and gums from acidity and food dyes. The jury is still out on whether using a straw actually makes a difference &mdash; and a general web search provides a buffet of talking points for both sides of that argument.</p> <p> Meanwhile, some people want straws in order to avoid spilling liquid on themselves. Others may have a child in the car who is too young to drink a beverage sans straw.</p> <p> For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Banning plastic straws, however well-intentioned, appears to be no exception to this rule.</p> </div> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 23 May 2018 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIs Boredom Beneficial to Kids? • BoldTV GunlockFri, 18 May 2018 15:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMoral Panic Over E-Cigarettes Carries a High Cost<p> AEI scholar Dr. Sally Satel has yet another <a href=";page=1&amp;pos=1">must-read article in today&rsquo;s Wall Street Journal</a> about how the moral panic over e-cigarettes is clouding judgment on an important public health issue&mdash;how do we help the roughly 37.8 million American adults who currently smoke cigarettes quit the habit for good or switch to less harmful e-cigarette products.</p> <p> Satel explains that the popularity of one particular type of e-cigarette, called JUUL, with teens is making some in the public health and political spheres unjustly demonize these products writ large and for all demographics--even for people desperate to find a smoking cessation product that works for them (see <a href="">my testimony before the FDA </a>on why e-cigarettes are the preferred method of smoking cessation product for women). Satel writes:</p> <blockquote> <p> &hellip;instead of cheers for a blockbuster of American ingenuity that&rsquo;s saving lives, JUUL has sparked a moral panic. A Harvard pediatrician likened teen use of JUUL to &ldquo;bioterrorism .&nbsp;.&nbsp;. a massive public-health disaster.&rdquo; Last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer demanded that the Food and Drug Administration douse the &ldquo;fire of e-cig addiction among New York adolescents.</p> </blockquote> <p> Of course, Satel agrees that teens shouldn&rsquo;t vape. So does JUUL, which even supports raising the smoking age to 21 (not a policy with which I agree) and has pledged $30 million to fight underage vaping. But, as Satel spells out, we can&rsquo;t forget that &ldquo;there is no adult activity that some kids won&rsquo;t do.&rdquo; To suggest otherwise is to put your head in the sand and just hope your kid is a perfect angel. Satel offers some sobering statistics on why this just isn&rsquo;t the case for most kids:</p> <blockquote> <p> According to the 2017 Monitoring the Future&nbsp;<a href="">survey</a>, almost 1 in 5 high school seniors reported getting drunk within the previous month, while 22.9% used cannabis during the same time frame. Only 11% said they had vaped. Two major government surveys show that regular e-cigarette use by people who have never smoked is under 1%.</p> <p> Some 4.2% of high-school seniors report smoking conventional cigarettes daily, according to Monitoring the Future, and 9.7% reported smoking at least once in the previous month. These are &ldquo;the high-risk youth&rdquo; we need to worry about, said Lynn T. Kozlowski, a tobacco expert at the University of Buffalo, at last month&rsquo;s E-Cigarette Summit in Washington. Youth who have started to smoke, he added, &ldquo;need to know the real costs of different nicotine products.&rdquo;</p> </blockquote> <p> That&rsquo;s the critical point (something Carrie Lukas also wrote about <a href="">here</a>). Teens and parents need to understand that traditional cigarettes are far more dangerous than vaping products and it&rsquo;s immoral, unethical and just plain outrageous for anti-smoking activists, government agencies and politicians to hide or distort the facts about vaping being safer. Satel writes:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> Better they are told that the smoke they are inhaling comes with 7,000 chemicals, dozens of them in carcinogenic levels, plus carbon monoxide. And if they can&rsquo;t or won&rsquo;t quit, they should know that vaping, according to the Royal College of Physicians, is about 95% less hazardous than cigarette smoking.&nbsp;</p> </blockquote> <p> Of course parents prefer to give the &ldquo;just don&rsquo;t start!&rdquo; advice, but if they do, perhaps the better advice is that given by David B. Abrams of New York University&rsquo;s College of Global Public Health, who Satel quotes in her piece. He says:&nbsp;</p> <blockquote> <p> If the choice is between getting addicted to nicotine and dying from cigarettes or getting addicted without dying from e-cigarettes, the answer is obvious.</p> </blockquote> <p> Satel concludes by warning that &ldquo;Overheated worries about youth vaping are threatening to obscure the massive potential benefits to the nation&rsquo;s 38 million cigarette smokers. Two million have already quit thanks to e-cigarettes. Vaping products are already the most widely used quit-smoking tool.&rdquo;</p> <p> We should all be in favor of providing smokers innovative products that can help them quit smoking as well as urging teens never to start smoking or vaping. Each of these goals can be pursued simultaneously and without ridding marketplace of products that can actually accomplish the first.&nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 16 May 2018 08:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCan New Tech Teach Our Kids to Say ‘Please’? • Bold TV GunlockFri, 11 May 2018 08:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAdvice for College Grads • Fox & Friends GunlockSat, 5 May 2018 14:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolitical Discourse and Civility • Bold TV GunlockFri, 4 May 2018 19:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumOutraged 'woke' Americans: A new national embarrassment<p> In the iconic 1986 movie, &ldquo;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Pretty in Pink</a>,&rdquo; actress Annie Potts&rsquo; character, Iona, dons a white and black patterned qipao &mdash; a traditional Chinese dress &mdash; along with a blond wig and dramatic eye makeup designed to make her look Asian. At that less enlightened time, no one complained about Potts&rsquo; cultural appropriation of Asian culture. Instead, Potts was praised for her fabulously quirky role.</p> <p> A decade later, Madonna&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">wore</a>&nbsp;an elegant red Kimono, dyed her hair black and also wore makeup like a Japanese geisha for her music video for her chart topping song &ldquo;Nothing Really Matters&rdquo; &mdash; a song that had exactly nothing to do with Japan. Yet instead of condemnation for appropriating Asian culture, Madonna received high praise. Reviewers called the video &ldquo;deliciously subversive,&rdquo; &ldquo;daring,&rdquo; &quot;surreal,&quot; and &quot;angular&quot; (whatever that means). One reviewer gushed that the American (of Italian descent) singer is &ldquo;...a modern-day Geisha.&rdquo; The video was even nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.</p> <p> Kind and eccentric Iona and Madonna&rsquo;s beautiful geisha interpretation could not survive in today&rsquo;s humorless and quick-to-anger culture. To understand that more fully, one only need consider the reaction to Utah teenager Keziah Daum&rsquo;s &ldquo;racist&rdquo; dress.</p> <p> It all started after Daum posted pictures of herself and her friends on Twitter before heading off to their school prom. One triggered tweeter named Jeremy Lam replied to Daum with this:</p> <p> Sometimes these sorts of virtue signaling tweets pass by unnoticed. But Lam&rsquo;s condemnation of Daum&rsquo;s choice to wear a traditional Chinese qipao dress had a quality that made it go viral. And it did. As of this writing, the post has 42,000 retweets and 179,000 likes, as well as 20,000 comments. Astonishingly, and perhaps sadly, the man&#39;s&nbsp;eight-word tweet also generated thousands of words in opinion pieces and media stories, and obviously the count continues.</p> <p> In subsequent tweets, Lam defended his attack against the teenager, saying he&rsquo;s proud of his culture but that, &ldquo;&hellip;for it to simply be subject to American consumerism and cater to a white audience, is parallel to colonial ideology.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet, in a story for the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">South China Morning Press</a>, reporter Louis Moon found that instead of outrage at this case of American &ldquo;colonial ideology,&rdquo; the Chinese people felt honored by Daum&rsquo;s choice of dress, saying they view it not as cultural appropriation, but as cultural appreciation. One person interviewed even suggested the Chinese government invite Daum to China to display her dress. No one seems interested in meeting Lam.</p> <p> And, as the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Telegraph reported this week</a>, Chinese Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter) users have overwhelmingly supported Daum&rsquo;s dress choice. One Weibo user wrote, &ldquo;It means that she thinks our culture is beautiful,&rdquo; while another pointed out the that&nbsp;the logic can be reversed, saying:</p> <blockquote> <p> &ldquo;And if Western people are saying that she can&#39;t wear Chinese clothes, does that mean Chinese people can&#39;t wear Western clothing &mdash; such as a wedding dress? That would be stupid.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p> So, there&rsquo;s really nothing to defend. In fact, they don&rsquo;t seem to care, and rather recognize that Daum&rsquo;s choice of dress was a show of respect. Moreover, they seemed shocked and a little confused that the American media and the American people would waste so much mental capital on such a silly issue.</p> <p> Considering all this, it now appears that instead of Daum supposedly practicing &ldquo;colonial ideology&rdquo; for wearing a traditional Chinese-style dress, it&rsquo;s really her critics who practice colonial outrage for having the arrogance to speak on behalf of a culture and a country made up of over a billion people, who apparently have a lot more sense that those living in the West.</p> <p> The outrage over this dress and Lam&rsquo;s response embody the newest version of the embarrassing American. No longer the fanny pack and white sneaker-wearing, loudmouth, know-it-all tourist. It&rsquo;s the perpetually outraged millennial on Twitter looking to be offended, and wasting everyone&rsquo;s time in the process.</p> GunlockFri, 4 May 2018 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumKids and Sleep: Are Americans Too Nervous?<p> &ldquo;Hey, do you mind moving Jack&rsquo;s first birthday party&rsquo;s start time to 5:30pm, instead of 6pm? Our little Billy goes to bed at 6:30 and we&rsquo;d really like to come.&rdquo;</p> <p> I was a new mom (if you can&rsquo;t tell by my hosting a cocktail party for my first born&rsquo;s first birthday--complete with charcuterie board, passed hors d&#39;oeuvres, a house cocktail, loads of wine and beer, and one lone blue balloon standing sentry in a corner), so I didn&rsquo;t know if her request was obnoxious or reasonable. Through gritted teeth and a fake smile firmly in place, I told her to come as early as she needed to. After all, no one wanted to disturb Billy.&nbsp;</p> <p> As the years rolled on, I often ran into this &ldquo;bedtime&rdquo; hard stop. Eventually I started setting party time earlier so that people with children could make it. But for some of our friends, the anxiety never stopped. Even as my children left the toddler stage, I&rsquo;d notice parents getting antsy around 9ish&hellip;&rdquo;Oh boy, look at the time, Sally&rsquo;s just a monster the next day if he stays up too late.&rdquo;</p> <p> To this day, we don&rsquo;t have a firm time for bed, but rather a, &ldquo;hmmm, it seems late, I guess we should head upstairs&rdquo; sort of nightly ritual.</p> <p> That isn&rsquo;t to say that I just let the the kids fall where they are and sleep until I rouse them at 2am to finally tuck them into their beds, but the time is always shifting by a half hour or so and of course there are times when they stay up far too late. And in the less stressful and scheduled summer months, I could be accused of legitimate neglect&mdash;letting the kids stay out until true darkness falls and then of course, they need a snack, meaning the bedtime routine doesn&rsquo;t start until 10 and even later.&nbsp;</p> <p> This has been a constant source of guilt on my part, wondering why I&rsquo;m not more like my friends who seem to have a better handle on bedtime. Multiple studies have shown the benefit of more and regular sleep patterns for kids and that good sleep habits equal healthier kids. In fact, I&rsquo;ve written extensively on the connection between sleep and childhood obesity.</p> <p> Yet, writer Suzanne Zuckerman has me wondering if I&rsquo;m worrying a little too much and if I&rsquo;ve become a bit of a (gasp!) nervous helicopter parent when it comes to sleep. Over at <a href=";utm_medium=syndication&amp;utm_campaign=italianbedtime">PureWow</a>, Zuckerman writes about raising her kids in Rome:&nbsp;</p> <p> When it comes to American parenting, few triumphs feel as hard-won as helping your kids sleep through the night. And as any veteran sleep trainer knows, the key to a rested (and thus, sane) family is often an&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=syndication&amp;utm_campaign=italianbedtime">obscenely early bedtime</a>. (If they&rsquo;re not down by 8 p.m., Houston, we&rsquo;ve got a problem.)</p> <p> But in Italy, our attempts to impose order on the universe with pre-sunset tuck-ins are not only called into question,&nbsp;but they&rsquo;re also met with a confused, &ldquo;Ma stai scherzando?&rdquo; (<em>Are you kidding me?)</em></p> <p> &ldquo;Walk into any restaurant in&nbsp;<a href=";utm_medium=syndication&amp;utm_campaign=italianbedtime">Rome</a>, from the ordinary to the elegant, at 10 p.m. and you will find children eating and talking at the table with adults,&rdquo;&nbsp;<a href="">writes</a>Jeannie Marshall, a Toronto native raising her son in Rome. &ldquo;Around 11, some of them will be face down in their spaghetti or sprawled over their parents&rsquo; laps, sleeping while the adults linger over a bitter&nbsp;<em>digestivo</em>.&rdquo;</p> <p> And these digestivo-sipping parents aren&rsquo;t a few glutton-for-punishment outliers who don&rsquo;t have to get up for work in the morning &mdash; this is everybody.</p> <p> The article goes on to explain that while American children sleep for longer periods, Italian children&rsquo;s sleep quality is better (this reminds me of eating pasta in Italy-the servings were so small compared to American portions, but tasted so much better!). She also mentioned that in Italy, the daily afternoon siesta is still practiced by many children and adults, meaning naptime is still a thing for everyone. This combined with the fact that the Italian school day is shorter, means Italian children may not require as much sleep as American children.&nbsp;</p> <p> So, given my geography, perhaps it&rsquo;s better that I have some rules and worry a bit about keeping my kids on a more regular sleep schedule. But I say take note of the Italians and remember that if occasionally you veer from your child&rsquo;s bedtime routine, it&rsquo;s not the end of the world for your little one.&nbsp;</p> GunlockTue, 1 May 2018 07:05:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow to Talk Politics Without Starting Fights and Ruining Relationships <p> No matter our individual politics, every citizen can surely agree that America&#39;s pretty far from domestic tranquility these days. The talking heads are braying. The online commentariat is spewing hatred IN CAPS LOCK. We&#39;re wondering whether we should bring riot gear to the next family dinner&mdash;if we&#39;re still having family dinners, that is. In one 2016 survey, around half the Democrats and half the Republicans reported that the opposing party made them feel angry, frustrated, even afraid.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> But despite the vitriol, we residents of the United States still have one area of common ground: the piece of land we call home, where we have to figure out how to coexist. As Abraham Lincoln said to a divided nation in his 1861 inaugural address, &quot;We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In the spirit of that most heroic statesman, what if we refrained from yelling for a second, so we could actually hear each other? Even if we didn&#39;t change our minds, we could change our mindset&mdash;and remember we&#39;re people first, not parties. Because despite the fear and loathing expressed in that 2016 survey, the majority of both Republicans and Democrats said a neighbor&#39;s party affiliation wouldn&#39;t affect their ability to get along. If we&#39;re willing to drop by with a casserole, surely we can have a civil conversation.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Talking Points</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;Though I cohost a talk show, sometimes I go silent. The words&nbsp;<em>silent</em>&nbsp;and&nbsp;<em>listen</em>&nbsp;have the same letters. When we listen, we give each other room to see each other as we are. And when we&#39;re making change together, we have to let some things go. I have hope whenever I hear someone say, &lsquo;I&#39;m tired of fighting. I just want to find the answer.&#39;&quot; &mdash;Harris Faulkner, host of Fox News Channel&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Outnumbered Overtime&nbsp;</em></a>and cohost of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Outnumbered</em></a>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;When you&#39;re married to someone from the world of politics, you socialize with opinionated people. Luckily, my mother, who was Nancy Reagan&#39;s social secretary, taught me diplomacy. Anytime somebody&#39;s making my blood boil, I wonder what they looked like as an infant. All babies are cute. Then I smile.&quot; &mdash;Ali Wentworth, actress, author of&nbsp;<a href=";qid=1524081380&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=Ali+Wentworth" target="_blank"><em>Go Ask Ali,</em></a>&nbsp;and wife of ABC&#39;s George Stephanopoulos, former adviser to Bill Clinton&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;Even if I find an opinion downright abhorrent, I keep asking more questions to gain better insight into that person&#39;s perspective. It&#39;s like conducting a scientific inquiry. The key is to stay respectful&mdash;and a sense of humor always helps.&quot; &mdash;Alex Wagner, author of&nbsp;<a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1524081413&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=futureface" target="_blank"><em>Futureface</em></a>&nbsp;and CBS News contributor&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;As a hostage negotiator, I could listen empathetically to anyone&mdash;even terrorists&mdash;once I realized that understanding and articulating someone&#39;s viewpoint is not the same as agreeing with it. Decoupling those ideas is a powerful and liberating concept.&quot; &mdash;Chris Voss, former FBI lead international kidnapping negotiator and author of&nbsp;<a href=";ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1524081443&amp;sr=1-1&amp;keywords=never+split+the+difference+by+chris+voss" target="_blank"><em>Never Split the Difference</em></a>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;When I was confronted on C-SPAN by &#39;Garry from North Carolina,&#39; an admitted racist, I thought about the roots of his fear: If the only people of color I knew were accused criminals on the news, I&#39;d be scared, too. I thanked him for his honesty. Once we got to know each other, he told me he was reading Cornel West and &#39;practicing not being prejudiced.&#39; What we share is our desire to be better citizens.&quot; &mdash;Heather McGhee, president of the public policy organization&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Demos</a>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;For people who say they can&#39;t stand listening to the other side, I suggest a game: Flip the script and imagine the sound bite or action you hate is coming from a politician you support. We&#39;re so reluctant to give people the benefit of the doubt, but this simple mental trick helps me stay open-minded.&quot; &mdash;Alisyn Camerota, CNN anchor and cohost of CNN&#39;s&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>New Day</em></a>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Stuck in the Middle with You</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>CNN commentators Margaret Hoover and John Avlon on the tricky business of being spouses and sparring partners.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Though Margaret Hoover and John Avlon have been married for eight years, the sparks are still flying: She&#39;s a GOP stalwart (and great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover) and the author of&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>American Individualism: How a New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party</em></a><em>.</em>&nbsp;He&#39;s a centrist who believes hyperpartisanship is damaging the country (to wit, his book&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"><em>Wingnuts: Extremism in the Age of Obama</em></a>). The pair have had their share of squabbles, but at the end of the day, they always manage to remember that they&#39;re on the same side.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>She says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;In the Hoover house,&nbsp;<em>Democrat</em>&nbsp;was a bad word. When something broke, my mom would say &lsquo;It went Democrat on us.&#39; So at first, whenever John said anything that wasn&#39;t pro&ndash;Republican Party, I took it as an attack on me and all that the Hoovers stood for. If we weren&#39;t in total sync on every point, I thought, then how could we be united in life? In hindsight, that seems laughable, but back then it felt like survival&mdash;incredibly emotionally fraught.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>He says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;I&#39;d always believed politics wasn&#39;t personal. Then I started dating Margaret, for whom it was intensely personal. Also, I love a good discussion and wanted to &lsquo;win&#39; every time. Understandably, that didn&#39;t feel loving to Margaret.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>She says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;It was 2008, and we were about to get engaged. John had decided not to support McCain in the election because of Sarah Palin, and we fought about it nonstop. But then something in me clicked. By then I knew John well enough to appreciate that our core values&mdash;love of family and country&mdash;were the same, even if our political leanings weren&#39;t. I couldn&#39;t let his choice of candidate cheat me out of marrying the love of my life. When we got married, I designated our bedroom a demilitarized zone, where cuddling would always trump politics.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>He says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;Democracy depends on an assumption of goodwill between citizens. That damn well better extend to the person you love. Did I have to push every conversation to the outer limit? No. I began wanting my wife to trust me more than I craved a verbal victory, and that was the turning point.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>She says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;These days we give each other space to consume our own preferred media. I did catch John sneak-watching Ken Burns&#39;s documentary about the Roosevelts, and I was like, &lsquo;You don&#39;t have to hide that from me! I mean, that family vilified my relatives and made my dad&#39;s and my grandparents&#39; lives incredibly challenging, but hey, go for it!&#39;&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>He says:</strong>&nbsp;&quot;It&#39;s taken years and patience, but as my mother says, &lsquo;Trees and people grow together over time.&#39; Lately, we&#39;ve been listening to a song by Chris Thile called &lsquo;I Made This for You.&#39; It goes:&nbsp;<em>Giving just as much hell as I get / To people I&#39;d prob&#39;ly like if I met / So whether these days leave you laughing or crying / If you&#39;re doing your best to be kind / This land is as much yours as mine.</em>&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>No News Is Bad News</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Opinion journalism confuses the issues&mdash;and the public.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Since the dawn of cablenews networks, it&#39;s been growing more difficult to separate reporting from retorting. &quot;With a 24-hour schedule to fill, the networks built many prime-time programs around the talk-show format, often to create debates,&quot; says Amy Mitchell, director of journalism research at Pew Research Center. The trend continued in the digital era, when bloggers could offer commentary- style &quot;news&quot; with no reporting at all. Now, according to a 2017 Gallup-Knight Foundation survey, almost half of Americans say there&#39;s so much bias in the news that it&#39;s hard to decipher the facts. Strict partisans are more certain they can&#39;t be misled by slanted news coverage: Those who are &quot;very liberal&quot; or &quot;very conservative&quot; are the most likely to be &quot;very confident&quot; that they can sort fact from opinion.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Only 27 percent of U.S. citizens are &quot;very confident&quot; that they can tell the difference between factual news and opinion or commentary.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Inward Spiral</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>How Facebook&nbsp;</em>really<em>&nbsp;keeps us in the loop.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Last year two-thirds of U.S. adults reported getting at least some news from social media, with Facebook in the lead. But that open forum can become an echo chamber, limiting our perspective and reinforcing our worst ideas about the other side.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>1. You block Crazy cousin Kyle...</strong>after reading his latest news nugget&mdash;that there are ISIS sleeper cells in Planned Parenthood clinics. And boy, does it feel good. So good, in fact, that you also block cousin Sue, her kids, and your Republican neighbor (later he&#39;ll post a thought-provoking op-ed about the refugee crisis, but unfortunately, you&#39;ll miss it). Close to 30 percent of social media users say they&#39;ve blocked or unfriended someone who&#39;s posted political content. Now, even though your network may include diverse connections, your feed&mdash;and your world&mdash;just got smaller.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>2. But add a cool new friend...</strong>you just met through your book club. You scroll through her feed, liking a Zadie Smith essay, clicking the laugh emoji under a hedgehog meme, commenting on her critique of a fearmongering political ad. All of this engagement means you&#39;ll see more of her posts in the future; in an attempt to halt the spread of fake news, Facebook announced at the beginning of the year that it was tweaking its algorithm to prioritize posts that circulate among your friends and family, making it less likely you&#39;ll see posts from news sites.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>3. And click on a rage-inducing headline...</strong>from a story shared by a coworker: &quot;The Moral Apocalypse of Republican Tax Cuts.&quot; Your pulse quickens. Studies show that users often engage with headlines that pique their curiosity, are highly sensational, or (as subjects in one Dutch study put it) inspire &quot;gleeful annoyance&quot; (i.e., you enjoy being irked by them). During the run-up to the 2016 elections, the&nbsp;<em>New York Times</em>&nbsp;tested two headlines: &quot;$2 Billion Worth of Free Media for Trump&quot; versus &quot;Measuring Trump&#39;s Media Dominance.&quot; Guess which one got nearly three times the clicks?&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>4. That you share...</strong>with your network. Then 30 of your friends click and share it, too. (Even though some of them didn&#39;t read the story. In one study, researchers estimated that 59 percent of links shared on Twitter have never been clicked; the sharer reads only the headline.) The friends who clicked will now see more of your posts in their feed. Those clicks mean more revenue for the news site that posted the story: The more traffic a site generates, the more dollars it can demand from advertisers&mdash; and the stronger its incentive to post the incendiary headlines that pay off.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>And now you&#39;re trapped in the inner circle&mdash;</strong>a feed full of people in lockstep with your politics. You&#39;re sharing provocative stories with your like-minded friends, who are sharing them with their own like-minded friends. The more you engage with each other, the more of each other&#39;s posts you&#39;ll see&mdash;and although you&#39;re in constant conversation, every voice sounds eerily like your own. Welcome to the echo chamber! Hello...hello...hello...&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Uncommon Knowledge</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>One way to have more productive conversations? Get our facts straight!</em>&nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</p> <ul> <li> Only 54 percent of Americans know that people born in Puerto Rico are U.S. citizens.</li> <li> Obamacare is the same thing as the Affordable Care Act! That&#39;s news to 33 percent of us.</li> <li> 53 percent of us believe people who are in the U.S. illegally have no protections under the Constitution.</li> <li> 37 percent can&#39;t name even one right guaranteed by the First Amendment.</li> <li> 64 percent of us can&#39;t find North Korea on a map.</li> </ul> <p> Only 60 percent can identify the country that voted to leave the European Union. (It&#39;s the United Kingdom.)&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Stranger in a Strange Land</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Surrounded by blue, conservative Julie Gunlock tries not to see red.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> When people in my liberal northern Virginia community find out I&#39;m conservative, they&#39;re often shocked. I feel like a citizen of some newly discovered country: &quot;Explain to me your customs&mdash;what is this world you come from?&quot; It&#39;s like I have a duck on my head. I want to say, &quot;You know Republicans aren&#39;t aliens, right? We do exist. There are plenty of us in the Capitol Building, right up the highway.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> The morning after the 2016 elections, when I walked my kids to school, let&#39;s just say I didn&#39;t see high-fiving in the streets. There was vodka in the coffee mugs. The principal gathered the teachers to make sure everyone was okay. People were posting on Facebook that they were crying in their children&#39;s arms. There was a three-day hangover afterward.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I try to be careful because I don&#39;t want other parents to decide their kids can&#39;t play with mine. I work for a conservative think tank and love to talk about the issues, but I&#39;ve learned that some enjoy those kinds of conversations and some don&#39;t. A person who lives in an area where everybody agrees with them isn&#39;t used to debating, so they might find it unnerving if suddenly someone trotted along and started asking questions. I get it&mdash;I don&#39;t want to startle anyone!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Sometimes I do feel isolated, but in other ways, it&#39;s great to live among people who don&#39;t share my politics because it forces me to find other things to talk about. I also love great books and food and cooking. In fact, cooking videos are the only thing left on my Facebook feed. I got tired of the drama and hid everybody else. Now it&#39;s just recipes and my Aunt Trudy.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Kumbaya&mdash;Not</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Judith Newman&#39;s Democratic bubble has become a hazmat suit.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I used to pride myself on living by Atticus Finch&#39;s dictum in&nbsp;<em>To Kill a Mockingbird:</em>&nbsp;&quot;You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Oh, Atticus, how I&#39;ve failed you. I&#39;ve cut off my beloved uncle, now a Fox News addict. (No surprise&mdash;he still says women ought to stay barefoot and pregnant.) I hung up on a friend who claimed Donald Trump was joking (ha) when he said, &quot;There are fine people on both sides.&quot; And I unfriended a charming Facebook acquaintance who usually shares grandkid pics after she posted an image of Trump (looking more photoshopped than a Kardashian) captioned &quot;My President!&quot; On my news feed. Buh-bye, Grandma!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> However, I still cling to Margaret, my one remaining friend who voted for Trump. She didn&#39;t&nbsp;<em>like</em>&nbsp;him, I tell myself&mdash;she just disliked Hillary more. She&#39;s a loyal Republican. And it&#39;s New York, so her vote didn&#39;t &quot;count.&quot; I make excuses the way I did with the bad-news boyfriends of my youth: So what if he only drops by for 3 a.m. booty calls? He brought me a rose and a bottle of tequila!&nbsp;<br /> <br /> What slays me is that Margaret is a far more generous soul than I am. She gave me my first job, and I&#39;ve never seen her treat anyone with anything less than kindness and respect. She embodies grace under pressure. It&#39;s a quality I admire even more now that we&#39;re both moms of kids with disabilities, which makes us simpatico in a way that defies any other difference. Plus, like those bad boyfriends, she always makes me laugh. Even when she called to tell me her husband had died after a long illness, that dark humor of hers was still intact. &quot;Guess what?&quot; she said through her tears. &quot;There&#39;s one less Trump voter around here!&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I laughed in spite of myself. And I promised myself I&#39;d do better.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Who Knews?</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Conflict resolution expert Daniel Shapiro, PhD, recommends starting with the small stuff.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> I once did a workshop on negotiation with a group of lawyers in Philadelphia who were a very rational, straitlaced bunch. We were discussing the role of emotion in negotiation&mdash;using it to connect with others&mdash;and they seemed not to entirely get it. Emotion was outside the terrain of what they were accustomed to talking about at work. So I said: &quot;Find a stranger in this room, pair up with that person, and in the next two minutes, try to identify as many connections between you as possible. The stranger, the wilder, the weirder, the better.&quot; And so they did. All of a sudden they were invigorated. &quot;You like sailing?&quot; one person said. &quot;I like sailing!&quot; It was as if each of them had found a long-lost friend. One pair discovered they grew up two blocks from each other. Real bonds were forming. There&#39;s an emotional consequence in finding connections and embracing them, and they are often hidden. But imagine if I&#39;d asked them to tell their partner whom they&#39;d voted for and why.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> How do you help people have a positive conversation around sensitive issues? Help them locate and celebrate their commonalities to create a safety net for discussing what separates them.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <em>Daniel Shapiro, PhD, is founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program and author of Negotiating the Nonnegotiable.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>We Feel Your Pain</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Readers share tales of woe and peace.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> According to our poll at;which drew more than 1,300 responses from Republicans, Democrats and independents&mdash;the partisan struggle is really hitting home. If you&#39;re in the thick of it, take comfort that you&#39;re not alone&mdash;and heed this presumably hard-won advice from reader Lesley Rahner of Louisville, Kentucky: &quot;Never discuss religion or politics over a glass of wine.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;I am black and my husband is white. I thought we saw eye to eye, but lately talks about race are beginning to divide us.&quot; &mdash;Jasmine York, St. Louis&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;I&#39;m amazed by how my friends automatically judge people without listening to their viewpoints. I am a liberal democrat and have told them that I believe in protecting the borders (because it&#39;s the law), but they automatically assume I want open borders.&quot; &mdash;Stephanie Goins, Lake Villa, Illinois&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;I have some of the most liberal friends and love them just the same. I harbor no ill will toward anyone who&#39;s expressing an opinion&mdash;but I don&#39;t allow people to be mean and nasty. That doesn&#39;t lead to the greater good. It just leads to a fight.&quot; &mdash;Gina Thomsen, Rapid City, South Dakota&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;As a mom of Mexican American daughters and the wife of a Mexican man who is here on a green card, it pains me that my parents voted for Trump.&quot; &mdash;Jamie Martinez, Albuquerque, New Mexico&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;I have close family on opposite sides, but we love each other enough to respect our differences and keep our views to ourselves. No political cause matters as much as family.&quot; &mdash;Sally Pfisterer, St. Louis&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;My family has truly changed before my eyes. It really feels as though they&#39;ve been brainwashed.&quot; &mdash;Kristie Bennett, Bloomington, Indiana&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>Let&#39;s Stay Together</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>The bipartisan citizens&#39; movement&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Better Angels</a>&nbsp;has a novel solution for America&#39;s deeply imperfect union.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> In December 2016, ten Trump voters and ten Clinton voters gathered in South Lebanon, Ohio, to hash out their fears, hopes, and resentments. It was a brave experiment hosted by an organization called Better Angels, which has since held more than 40 workshops nationwide using communication principles drawn largely from marriage counseling. Better Angels&#39; founder and president, David Blankenhorn, and senior fellow William Doherty, a marriage and family therapist, offer a few lessons that might just save our relationships.&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>It takes two to tango.</strong>&nbsp;<br /> &quot;People usually come in to counseling wanting their partner to change, but both sides have a role in the problem,&quot; says Doherty. &quot;When they can admit that, we&#39;re hitting pay dirt.&quot; At the beginning of each workshop, both &quot;Reds&quot; and &quot;Blues&quot; talk about the stereotypes commonly leveled against them. &quot;For the Reds, it might be &lsquo;racist,&#39; and for the Blues, it might be &lsquo;snowflake,&#39;&quot; says Blankenhorn. &quot;They talk about why the stereotypes are false and whether there could be an element of truth. For instance, a Red might say, &lsquo;Most of us aren&#39;t racist. But some are, and if you&#39;re a racist in America, you&#39;re most likely conservative.&#39; People will be honest if they know they&#39;re not going to be demonized.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Democrat Kouhyar Mostashfi admits that when he attended Better Angels&#39; second workshop, he wasn&#39;t overflowing with goodwill. &quot;I was cutting ties with all my Republican friends,&quot; Mostashfi says. &quot;I came only because I was curious. But when we did some honest soul-searching, I realized that neither side was being painted fairly. When you talk to people, as opposed to hearing about them in the news, you realize they didn&#39;t develop their world views in an instant&mdash;they were shaped by their own feelings and life stories.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>We all want to be heard.</strong>&nbsp;<br /> The ground rule: No debating. &quot;When people can explain themselves without being interrupted or judged, they hear each other,&quot; says Doherty. &quot;The irony is that they&#39;re more apt to shift when they&#39;re not feeling pressured to change.&quot; Workshop moderators are quick to cut off lectures or insults. &quot;We&#39;re there to listen carefully and ask questions of clarification,&quot; says Blankenhorn, &quot;not gotcha questions like &lsquo;How could you support the worst man in America?&#39;&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;My first interaction was with a conservative Christian gentleman who said, &lsquo;I have something to ask you,&#39;&quot; says Mostashfi, a Muslim who immigrated from Iran in the 1990s. &quot;When I saw the emotion in his face, I knew what it was going to be.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> &quot;I wanted to know about ISIS,&quot; says Greg Smith, who posed the question. &quot;Before I could get the word out, Kouhyar said, &lsquo;Let me tell you something. My religion has been hijacked.&#39; I thought about that and said, &lsquo;Let me tell&nbsp;<em>you</em>&nbsp;something. So has mine.&#39; The KKK wants to say they&#39;re with us&mdash;get out of here! Kouhyar and I quickly realized that there are like-minded people within the boundaries of both red and blue.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>We can work it out.</strong>&nbsp;<br /> Mostashfi and Smith began meeting to continue their conversation. &quot;As the friendship has blossomed, we&#39;re challenging each other about our beliefs,&quot; says Mostashfi. &quot;We know we&#39;re not trying to score political points but to get rid of the rough edges that exist between us.&quot; He&#39;s accompanied Smith to church; Smith came to Friday prayers at Mostashfi&#39;s mosque. &quot;We&#39;re not close to agreeing on Donald Trump and Obama,&quot; says Smith. &quot;But if Kouhyar ran for office, I believe I could vote for that guy!&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> After 40 years in the therapy trenches, Doherty believes almost any relationship can be saved if both parties are motivated. &quot;When counseling doesn&#39;t work,&quot; he says, &quot;it&#39;s usually because someone was already out the door.&quot; Though both liberals and conservatives often enter Better Angels workshops skeptically, Blankenhorn adds, &quot;Out of 800 people, I have heard only one say, &lsquo;I still don&#39;t believe the other side has anything good to offer.&#39; And sometimes there&#39;s a transcendent moment when you rediscover each other as human beings, like the guy who stood up and said, &lsquo;You can&#39;t hate who you know.&#39;&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> <strong>The Rules of Engagement</strong>&nbsp;<br /> <em>Tips from Better Angels on the civil way to have civic conversations.</em>&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Paraphrase what the other person has just said to make sure you understand and that she feels heard. Don&#39;t go further by suggesting implications of her view: &quot;So you&#39;re saying you wish Trump wouldn&#39;t tweet so much, but he&#39;s there to shake things up in Washington.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> Not...&quot;So you&#39;re saying the character of the president doesn&#39;t matter.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Ask questions to clarify, not to provoke &quot;How did you come to believe that moving toward single-payer healthcare is best?&quot;&nbsp;<br /> Not...&quot;How can you defend something as messed up as Obamacare?&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Use &quot;I&quot; statements (&quot;This is how I see it&quot;) more often than truth statements (&quot;This is how it is&quot;): &quot;I&#39;m afraid we&#39;re going off a cliff on climate change, and there will be no coming back.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> Not...&quot;We&#39;re going to have to evacuate coastal cities before this century is over.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> <br /> Don&#39;t take the bait if the other person makes a provocative statement. Simply restate your position calmly: &quot;For now Trump is the president, and I want to give him a chance to succeed.&quot;&nbsp;<br /> Not...&quot;Like Hillary would have been a modern-day Lincoln? Dream on!&quot;</p> GunlockFri, 27 Apr 2018 13:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe FDA Cracks Down on Juul<p> Yesterday, the&nbsp;<a href="">FDA announced it&rsquo;s cracking down on the illegal sale of Juul</a>--a type of e-cigarettes popular with teens. The agency has sent 40 warning letters to vape shops that sold the devices to teens. The FDA has also targeted the San Francisco-based company itself, asking Juul to produce information on its marketing practices and whether Juul&rsquo;s design features, ingredients and flavors appeal to teens.&nbsp;The FDA is also requiring Juul to provide the research the company has conducted on the health effects of Juuling.</p> <p> This is a provocative move on the part of the FDA and will no doubt add to stories in the media speculating about the impact of the e-cigarette industry, and Juul in particular.&nbsp;</p> <p> Concern about this new technology is understandable.&nbsp; Parents are particularly concerned when they read warnings about teens taking up vaping and its potential to serve as a gateway to smoking.&nbsp;</p> <p> However, its important for parents to be aware of the measures that are already underway to discourage teen vaping.&nbsp; There are already federal restrictions that make it illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18. Some states even have tougher age restrictions: Alabama, Alaska and Utah have set the legal age at 19, while in California, Hawaii, Maine, and Oregon, you have to be 21 to vape. In addition, many cities, towns and municipalities have banned smoking and vaping for anyone under 21. And there&rsquo;s little to no push back on those local laws.&nbsp; E-cigarette manufacturers support these age restrictions, and are working to make sure that distributors comply with keeping these products out of the hands of those who are underage.&nbsp;</p> <p> And in spite of what the media (and now the FDA) are suggesting about teen vaping and smoking, the good news is that these efforts are paying off.&nbsp; Yes, the under-reported story is that teen smoking is at a record low and teen vaping is on the decline.&nbsp;</p> <p> In a rare break from generating panicked stories about vaping, The Washington Post even&nbsp;<a href="">reported the good news in a 2017 story</a>:</p> <p style="margin-left:35.45pt;"> Teenagers&#39; use of e-cigarettes fell sharply last year, while overall tobacco use declined to a new low, according to data that some antismoking advocates said could signal a turning point in the decades-long effort against youth smoking.</p> <p style="margin-left:35.45pt;"> The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention&#39;s annual report on youth and tobacco found that 11.3 percent of high school students used e-cigarettes in 2016, compared with 16 percent the year before. That&#39;s the first drop since the CDC started keeping track of e-cigarettes in 2011.</p> <p style="margin-left:35.45pt;"> In addition, just 8 percent of high-schoolers smoked cigarettes last year, while a little over 20 percent reported using &ldquo;any tobacco product,&rdquo; which includes cigars, hookahs, pipes, smokeless tobacco and small, leaf-wrapped cigarettes called bidis, as well as regular and e-cigarettes. Both those numbers are the lowest on record, the agency said.</p> <p style="margin-left:35.45pt;"> &ldquo;This is unimaginable, extraordinary progress,&rdquo; said Matthew Myers, president of the nonprofit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, noting that almost 30 percent of young people smoked cigarettes in 2000. &ldquo;This is a change of a cosmic nature that has the potential to dramatically impact lung cancer, heart disease, asthma and other problems.&rdquo;</p> <p> Despite this good news about teen smoking (and the data to back it up!), anti-smoking activists have worked overtime to create the sense that there is a crisis in teen smoking and vaping, suggesting e-cigarettes are a gateway drug to traditional combustible cigarettes and that vaping companies want to get kids hooked. Yet they often contradict themselves. While claiming flavors like &ldquo;fruit medley&rdquo; and &ldquo;cr&egrave;me brulee&rdquo; are created to appeal to kids (and therefore grow the e-cigarette market of new teen buyers), they simultaneously suggest kids will easily switch over to traditional cigarettes, which (News Flash!), don&rsquo;t come in a variety of fruit and candy flavors.&nbsp;</p> <p> Our legitimate desire to prevent teens from taking up vaping and smoking, shouldn&#39;t obscure the bigger picture and positive trends that are occurring when it comes to teen and adult smoking.&nbsp; In addition to the decline in the rates of teen smoking and vaping, vaping and the availability of products like Juul are helping long-term smokers of traditional cigarettes finally kick the habit. Keep in mind:&nbsp; E-cigarettes are 95 percent less harmful than traditional cigarettes. That&rsquo;s why health care providers in the UK often urge smokers to switch to vaping. It&rsquo;s too bad that regulators in the US are so slow to see the value of these products, and that the media is leaving that important piece out of this story.</p> GunlockWed, 25 Apr 2018 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumRegulating Vaping Can Be Worse for Your Health • Cam & Co. GunlockWed, 25 Apr 2018 14:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIn Our View: Feeding Kids Sound Policy<p> Two new state laws revolving around school meals bring up larger questions about the role of government.</p> <p> One law, known as Breakfast After the Bell, will require high-poverty schools to provide meals for children who arrive late for school. As Principal Matthew Fechter of Fruit Valley Community Learning Center told The Columbian, staff members at his school greet students with &ldquo;Good morning&rdquo; and &ldquo;Did you get something to eat?&rdquo; If not, the student is taken to the cafeteria for a quick bite. House Bill 1508, sponsored by Rep. Monica Stonier, D-Vancouver, will take effect next school year and will extend that policy to schools throughout the state.</p> <p> Meanwhile, House Bill 2610 will prevent school staff from singling out students who are unable to pay for meals. No employee may &ldquo;take any action that would publicly identify a student who cannot pay for a school meal or for meals previously served to the student, including but not limited to requiring the student to wear a wristband, hand stamp, or other identifying marker, or by serving the student an alternative meal.&rdquo; It is common for schools to serve less-expensive meals when a student&rsquo;s lunch account is depleted, and to provide a reminder.</p> <p> In helping to ensure that students are well-fed and are in optimal condition for school, the bills will work to enhance learning. As Gov. Jay Inslee said last week during a visit to Fruit Valley, &ldquo;if you&rsquo;re going to fill a child&rsquo;s head, first thing, you can&rsquo;t have an empty tummy.&rdquo;</p> <p> Adequate nutrition for students provides benefits for teachers and administrators, as well. Sibylle Kranz, a University of Virginia professor and child nutrition epidemiologist, says: &ldquo;There is pretty solid evidence that children who are hungry are not able to focus, so they have a low attention span, behavioral issues, discipline issues in the school. So having children who are well-fed and not hungry makes a difference in their individual performance and also how much they are contributing or disrupting the classroom situation.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet while there are clear benefits to having well-fed students, there are considerable questions about who should provide nutritious meals. Critics say there is no such thing as a free lunch, and parents &mdash; rather than taxpayers &mdash; should be responsible for providing students with food or money to purchase meals.</p> <p> Republicans in Congress have sought to scale back the number of students receiving federally funded meals, and <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, distilled the argument: &ldquo;Studies show that a diminished parental role in a child&rsquo;s nutritional development has real consequences. And that&rsquo;s exactly what happens when government takes on the role of primary food-provider for school-age children.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> The issue is worthy of debate. There are legitimate questions and legitimate doubts about a society that comes to rely upon government programs for basic necessities.</p> <p> But the thought of a child going hungry at school &mdash; and being ill-prepared to learn &mdash; should outweigh concerns about a coddling nanny state. School-provided meals are beneficial for students, and having well-fed, attentive learners make it easier for teachers and administrators to do their jobs.</p> <p> Parents entrust their children to schools for some seven hours a day. It is perfectly reasonable that we expect schools to ensure that all of students&rsquo; needs are met during that time.</p> GunlockMon, 23 Apr 2018 11:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe key problems with restorative justice policies in school • Cam & Co. GunlockThu, 19 Apr 2018 19:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum#ChampionWomen: Late First Lady Barbara Bush + Heroine Pilot Tammie Jo Shults • Steve Gruber Show GunlockWed, 18 Apr 2018 15:04:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum