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 Creates Strange Bedfellows<p> The Washington Times <a href="">reports</a> that an odd fellowship has arisen between green groups, who a decade ago touted the federal government&rsquo;s ethanol mandate and the EPA&rsquo;s renewable fuel standards, and Sen. Ted Cruz, who has long been a critic of these mandates and has long argued that the program needs an overhaul.</p> <p> For those who aren&rsquo;t familiar with the concept of Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS), Jillian Melchoir explained them in a 2015 <a href="">policy focus</a> for IWF:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> In 2005, Congress mandated the use of renewable fuels as part of the energy Policy act and in 2007, as part of the energy Independence and Security act, Congress voted to greatly expand this Renewable Fuel Standard, requiring the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, including both corn ethanol and so-called cellulosic biofuel (made from non-edible plant parts like grass, wood and cornstalks), to be blended with transportation fuels.</p> <p> In 2005, green groups were excited about RFS and ethanol production because they claimed these measures would reduce carbon emissions, preserve land and help fight climate change. Yet none of that happened.</p> <p> But RFSs have had an impact. As Jillian Melchoir noted in the <a href="">policy focus</a>:</p> <p> 1) The RFS mandate has led to increased fuel costs, which has led to higher costs for goods and services, as shipping costs have increased and manufacturers are simply passing this cost onto the consumer.</p> <p> 2) The RFS mandate has also increased the tax burden on Americans as the federal government gives tax credits for the use of biofuels. American taxpayers make up for that loss of tax revenue and because RFS have increased food costs, taxpayers have shouldered the added burden of more public spending on SNAP and other food welfare program.</p> <p> 3) There are also real concerns about the impact of RFS on the environment. Instead of improving the environment, green groups now see that ethanol production emits carbon and biofuels can emit smog-creating chemicals, which may mean they are often no more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels. In addition, many green groups are worried about the conversion of land into cornfields which has disrupted habitats and led to other serious conservation issues.</p> <p> Clearly the RFS mandate needs to be reformed. Perhaps this unlikely coalition will make those reforms a reality.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> GunlockWed, 21 Mar 2018 12:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Importance of Parents Being Active in Their School Districts • Cam & Co. GunlockTue, 20 Mar 2018 13:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum'Melatonin-Laced Gummy Bears’ — Are Headlines Worrying Parents More Than They Should Be? • BoldLife GunlockFri, 16 Mar 2018 15:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumMinnesota District Forces Kindergartners to Analyze 'White Privilege'<p> Students attending government schools in the Edina School District in suburban Minneapolis have been subjected to the district&rsquo;s &ldquo;All for All&rdquo; strategic plan since 2013. The program is &ldquo;a sweeping initiative that reordered the district&rsquo;s mission from academic excellence for all students to &lsquo;racial equity,&rsquo;&rdquo; the&nbsp;<em>Weekly Standard</em>&nbsp;reported in February. &ldquo;The Edina school district&rsquo;s All for All plan mandated that henceforth &lsquo;all teaching and learning experiences&rsquo; would be viewed through the &lsquo;lens of racial equity,&rsquo; and that only &lsquo;racially conscious&rsquo; teachers and administrators should be hired.&rdquo;</p> <p> Kindergarten students participate in a project aimed at examining their skin color. Tenth graders are required to take a course focusing on colonization, immigration, and &ldquo;Social Constructions of Race, Class and Gender.&rdquo; Since the program&rsquo;s implementation, black student test scores have largely decreased across the board.</p> <p> <strong>&lsquo;Can&rsquo;t Really Be Surprised&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, says parents are largely to blame for curricula like the Edina program becoming rampant in government schools.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Parents need to take some of the responsibility&rdquo; for the trend, Gunlock said. &ldquo;After all, parents have willingly ceded many parental duties to schools and school officials. We can&rsquo;t really be surprised that teachers and school administrators view it as their duty to teach a certain political ideology when they do a ton of other things for kids. Schools offer three meals a day, before- and after-care babysitting, healthcare, contraception, recreational programs to entertain our kids, daycare services for teens who have had babies. Some schools even send kids home with food over holiday breaks when the school is closed.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;The sad truth is that public schools are becoming social service hubs, so we shouldn&rsquo;t be shocked when those that work in schools seek to prop up that system,&rdquo; Gunlock said.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <strong>Parents Are Frequently Shut Out&nbsp;</strong></p> <p> Jane Robbins, a senior fellow with the American Principles Project, says schools oftentimes go to great lengths to conceal what&rsquo;s going on in classrooms.</p> <p> &ldquo;Most schools aren&rsquo;t as explicit about what they&rsquo;re doing as Edina is,&rdquo; Robbins said. &ldquo;I was quite struck by how explicit they are, by the types of people they&rsquo;re hiring and the mindsets they require before they hire certain people. That was just quite remarkable to me. But as far as other schools are concerned, this sort of thing is happening, not to that degree, but it&rsquo;s coming in just through the general curricula that are being turned out by various instructional materials companies and certainly with education tech products like digital learning.</p> <p> &ldquo;When something is online, frequently parents can&rsquo;t even see what their children are seeing at school,&rdquo; Robbins said. &ldquo;Sometimes they can&mdash;sometimes there&rsquo;s a parent portal, but frequently there isn&rsquo;t, and sometimes the children are not allowed to log in to the school materials at home. They have to do that at school, so parents are frequently shut out. They have no idea what is happening, and I can assure you that the problem isn&rsquo;t that the learning materials are leaning conservative. They&rsquo;re all leaning in the other direction.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>&lsquo;It Is Slow and Relentless&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> Robbins says the educational elites pushing these politicized curricula are relentless and secretive in their efforts.</p> <p> &ldquo;They play the long game,&rdquo; Robbins said. &ldquo;They&rsquo;ve been playing the long game for 100 years. They don&rsquo;t think anything of getting struck down by a local school board. They just bide their time and work on other areas, then slowly but surely it all comes around. &hellip; So [for instance], somebody creates a digital curriculum for California, then other states start to use that curriculum, and parents don&rsquo;t know it&rsquo;s being used, and frequently the local and state school boards wouldn&rsquo;t even know that&rsquo;s in the curriculum. It is slow and relentless, like dripping water, and eventually it will erode away all of our founding values.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>&lsquo;More Divisiveness&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> Robbins says the type of instruction conducted at Edina and elsewhere will have terrible consequences for society in the long run.</p> <p> &ldquo;You&rsquo;re are not going to have students who are well-educated,&rdquo; Robbins said. &ldquo;You are going to have students who are indoctrinated in certain beliefs and that sort of thing. If you are minimizing the great literature and the legitimate, objective lessons of history that students have been exposed to in the past, then you are going to have less-educated people and you&rsquo;re going to have more divisiveness.&rdquo;</p> <p> <strong>&lsquo;Parents Need to Be More Involved&rsquo;</strong></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Gunlock says parents have to pay attention to what their children are being taught and not hesitate to object.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;Parents need to be more involved,&rdquo; Gunlock said. &ldquo;They need to see the classroom curriculum. They should be talking regularly to their child&#39;s teacher, and they need to feel comfortable demanding changes if they disagree with what is being taught. Too often, conservative parents don&#39;t want to make a fuss or be seen as pushy or impolite. There are various civilized ways in which to make your voice heard, but conservatives shouldn&rsquo;t expect this dynamic to change if they remain silent.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;There are still good people who work in public schools and respect differences of opinion, even about politics,&rdquo; Gunlock said. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s time to engage in the process a bit more, instead of sitting idly by. Our children need us to get more involved. That&rsquo;s the only way we&#39;ll reverse the disturbing trend of political activism in the classroom.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> GunlockFri, 16 Mar 2018 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumPolitical Motive to the National School Walkout • Cam & Co. GunlockThu, 15 Mar 2018 11:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumNational School Walkout Aims for Restrictive Gun Laws • Fox & Friends GunlockThu, 15 Mar 2018 10:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumQ&A with 11-year-old march organizers in Alexandria, Virginia <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> In Alexandria, Virginia, a wealthy, liberal suburb of Washington DC, more than 60 students walked out of George Mason Elementary School. Two 11-year-olds, Naomi Wadler and Carter Anderson, had organized the protest.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> &ldquo;Just the sensation that we are going to make a difference makes me feel proud,&rdquo; Henry Gibbs, 10, said early Wednesday morning, before participating in the walkout.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> The students, led by the youngest who were about six and seven years old, formed a line in the front of the school. They stayed quiet as they held up signs with the names of Parkland victims, as well as Courtlin Arrington, a 17-year-old shot to death at school in Birmingham, Alabama.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> Dozens of parents stood on the sidewalk taking photographs of the protesting students, but no one spoke. Some students visibly shivered as they held up their signs. The only sound was birds tweeting and the cardboard of the protest signs snapping in the wind.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> After a few minutes, the line of students collapsed to the ground.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> Doris Maultsby said when she watched her two children, 10 and 7, fall to the ground, she thought of all the other parents who lost their children to senseless gun violence.</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> &ldquo;Their composure, they&rsquo;re ten and 11 year olds, was beyond anything I would expect or want them to have to be experiencing at this age,&rdquo; said Sherry Reilly, who had two sons participate in the walkout. &ldquo;But it is their reality, and we cannot insulate them from it.&rdquo;</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> At least one parent in the school&rsquo;s district did not support the protests.&nbsp;</p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Julie Gunlock, a conservative parent at George Mason, said she kept her three elementary school kids at home today, concerned about the disruption to the school&rsquo;s learning environment, and that the protest might make her son feel &ldquo;pressured&rdquo; or &ldquo;intimated.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I didn&rsquo;t want him to be put in an uncomfortable situation,&rdquo; she said, noting that he had not felt any pressure from other students in the weeks leading up to the protest.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Instead, she said she taught her kids at home about the Second Amendment, and also about gun safety.</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, a conservative think tank, said she thought that many parents and students nationwide may have seen the National Walkout simply as a memorial to the Parkland students, rather than an explicit endorsement of passing &ldquo;harsher gun restrictions.&rdquo;&nbsp;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p style="margin-left:5rem;"> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">&ldquo;I&rsquo;m all for walking out to memorialize the 17 victims,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;If that were the mission, the true mission, for the national walkout, I wouldn&rsquo;t have objected to my kids being approached by that.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> GunlockThu, 15 Mar 2018 07:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumParents Are Being Fed Misinformation About The National Gun Control Walkout<p> Parents across the country are being urged to let their children participate in the National School Walkout on March 14. Yet, few parents (and kids!) understand the walkout&rsquo;s true mission. At my children&rsquo;s elementary school in Northern Virginia, school officials are telling parents the walkout is meant to memorialize the 17 victims of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.</p> <p> Yet, according to the National School Walkout website, the real mission of the walkout is to demand Congress pass more restrictive gun laws. The website specifically states: &ldquo;Students and allies are organizing the national school walkout to&nbsp;demand Congress pass legislation &hellip; Congress must take meaningful action &hellip; and pass federal gun reform legislation.&rdquo;</p> <p> So, the children walking out of the classroom on March 14th won&rsquo;t be spending the time in quiet prayer or reflection. Instead, school kids (even those in elementary school) are going to be used as props by professional anti-gun activists to push for specific legislation.</p> <p> Some schools are even aiding in the effort by coordinating with the walkout organizers, providing &ldquo;safe spaces&rdquo; for kids who participate in the walkout, promoting the event on school Facebook and Twitter accounts, and allowing school buses to transport kids to and from gun control rallies.</p> <p> Considering that many public schools are helping to rally more kids to the cause and are even supplying school resources and personnel time to the effort, tax payers should ask: Is this an acceptable use of school funds? More importantly, why is a publicly funded school supporting one side of a very contentious and complex constitutional matter?</p> <p> Some might even wonder: What other political causes can I expect my public school to promote? Should conservatives in politically red areas of the country expect schools to help transport kids to next year&rsquo;s March for Life? Or how about for the inauguration on the Mall when Trump is reelected in 2020?</p> <p> Educators should also be concerned that the politicization of this issue avoids the nuance of what went wrong in Parkland that allowed the terrible shooting to occur, and what policies might actually help prevent the next one.</p> <p> For instance, we now know that between 2008 and 2017, the Broward County sheriff&rsquo;s office received 45 calls from concerned citizens related to the Parkland shooter and his brother. Social workers visited the his house multiple times. Yet, none of these reports (which included threats of violence and warnings that these troubled boys had access to weapons) were entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). If these many incidents had been logged into NICS, the shooter wouldn&rsquo;t have passed a background check, and he wouldn&rsquo;t have been able to purchase a firearm.</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t just a problem in Broward County. According to a 2016 audit by the Justice Department, all 50 states are guilty of not properly submitting records to the database. Even mental health information largely goes unreported. Considering this, parents might want to ask if their own police departments and social service networks are consistently reporting incidents to the NICS.</p> <p> They also might want to consider that at Parkland, three Broward County Sherriff&rsquo;s deputies stood down outside the school, which allowed Cruz to continue his killing spree. Pushing for better police training and more effective communication with local schools is another area where parents should focus.</p> <p> And there are more important areas to explore, such as the actions of the armed school resource officer employed by Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Instead of trying to keep students safe (as he was trained to do), he huddled in a stairwell with his gun holstered. In light of this, parents might want to ask questions about the level of training their school&rsquo;s resource officers are receiving.</p> <p> Americans ought to vigorously debate these issues, but we should also recognize that new laws won&rsquo;t make a difference if they go unenforced. Moreover, there are already 300-plus million guns in the United States. That means regardless of how we restrict gun ownership, we need to be prepared to respond to acts of violence in the future.</p> <p> Sadly, many parents have decided to pass on these hard questions and instead join a movement that is using children as props in a complex policy issue. We can all agree that children deserve safety and security at school. There are ways to help move toward that goal, but taking advantage of our kids for political ends isn&rsquo;t one of them.</p> <p> <em>Julie Gunlock is a senior fellow at the Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum and directs the organization&rsquo;s Culture of Alarmism Project. She is the author of &quot;From Cupcakes to Chemicals: How the Culture of Alarmism Makes Us Afraid of Everything and How to Fight Back.&quot;</em></p> GunlockTue, 13 Mar 2018 12:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHow Young Is Too Young for Protest? A National Gun-Violence Walkout Tests Schools<p> It started out last month as a writing exercise on the 1963&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">Birmingham Children&rsquo;s Crusade</a>, when more than 1,000 students skipped school and marched to demand civil rights. Then the class assignment mushroomed into a plan &mdash; hatched by 10- and 11-year-olds &mdash; to stage a little civil disobedience of their own.</p> <p> So on Wednesday morning, the students in Craig Sampsell&rsquo;s fifth-grade class at Case Elementary School in Akron, Ohio, will pick up posters they drew and walk out of their classrooms, joining many thousands of other students in a nationwide protest against gun violence after&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">the killing of 17 people</a>&nbsp;in a Florida high school last month.</p> <p> Asked whether that was an appropriate age to be protesting about a disturbing event, the principal, Danjile Henderson, said: &ldquo;My fifth-grade students were very aware of the details of the events and wanted to have their own peaceful protest.&rdquo;</p> <p> Still, she drew lines around who could participate and how. Third through fifth graders may walk out; second graders can observe the protest, but not walk; kindergartners and first-grade students will remain in their classrooms for discussions on school safety in general that avoid the shooting itself. &ldquo;Not all parents may want that detailed conversation on what happened in Florida,&rdquo; Ms. Henderson said.</p> <p> With some parents wanting their children to get firsthand exposure to a nationwide political demonstration; others worried that the protests are stoking the fears of young children about a threat that remains uncommon; and still others objecting to the gun-control message entirely, one question has been weighing heavily on school administrators this past week: How young is too young for children to join the walkout?</p> <p> Many districts and schools that are tolerating, if not encouraging, participation in what organizers call the&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">National School Walkout</a>&nbsp;are also calibrating their approach for their youngest students. In New York City, middle and high school students may walk out of class with approval from a parent, such as with a permission slip, but elementary school students cannot leave unless a parent or guardian comes to check them out.</p> <p> At Woods Cross Elementary School in Woods Cross, Utah, students will be allowed to leave class at 10 a.m. and go to the gym for 17 minutes, the same starting time and duration (one minute for every victim in Parkland, Fla.) as other walkouts around the country. Parents may also check them out of the school during that time, and they will not be penalized.</p> <p> &ldquo;We&rsquo;re giving them an opportunity to express their First Amendment rights in a safe place,&rdquo; said Rachel Peterson, a physical education teacher at the school who is also safety commissioner for the state board of the Utah PTA.</p> <p> In suburban Nashville, David L. Snowden, director of schools for the Franklin Special School District, sent an email to families saying that the district had decided that it would not be appropriate for students in its elementary schools, which run through fourth grade, to participate in the walkout, but that students in grades five and up could join.</p> <p> In an interview, Dr. Snowden said he was not concerned that very young children would be frightened by the walkout, only that they would not understand what it was about. &ldquo;Sometimes I think when you&rsquo;re teaching children, especially younger children, you try to take into consideration, will there be a full understanding of what they&rsquo;re doing and why they&rsquo;re doing it,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;Just to walk out of class for 17 minutes, I&rsquo;m not sure what that is really teaching.&rdquo;</p> <p> Even within Akron&rsquo;s 50-school district, agendas for Wednesday differed markedly from school to school. At Firestone Park Elementary, students were expected to read a poem about peace. At Pfeiffer Elementary, students would be reviewing safety procedures. And at Robinson Community Learning Center there were no plans at all &mdash; students had not expressed an interest, according to the district.</p> <p> <a href="" target="_blank">Elise Cappella</a>, a clinical psychologist and associate professor at New York University&rsquo;s Steinhardt School, said there was a difference between what the youngest students &mdash; from kindergarten to second grade &mdash; and older children could understand. While not advocating any particular stance, she said: &ldquo;Schools could make the decision that kids in kindergarten through second grade are not provided the opportunity to walk out. They are cognitively, socially, emotionally younger. They may feel more fear about it and less understanding.&rdquo;</p> <p> Children in the third grade and up, she said, will be more likely to be exposed to news and hear their parents talking about it. &ldquo;They are reaching a point where having something that&rsquo;s potentially positive and productive to do that makes them feel a sense of agency and safety could be a good thing,&rdquo; she said.</p> <p> Ms. Cappella said that whether elementary schools decided to participate in the protest or not, the goal should be to project a sense of community to their students.</p> <p> &ldquo;And if you can create that space,&rdquo; she said, &ldquo;whether that&rsquo;s in the classroom or in the hallways or in the schoolyard or out at a protest or a march, that&rsquo;s the most beneficial space for young kids to be in.&rdquo;</p> <p> Some school districts, generally in conservative areas, are trying to discourage any type of school walkout, regardless of age, warning that any student who participates will be marked as absent from class. Even some schools where demonstrations are being allowed are being careful about the tone.</p> <p> Ms. Peterson, of Woods Cross in Utah, said that there was no program planned for the assembly &mdash; the students would be able to express themselves as long as they were not rowdy or disruptive. &ldquo;We are teachers and not necessarily there to make a political statement in that time,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;Whatever is decided by students in that time and space, we will allow it to happen as long as it is peaceable and respectful.&rdquo;</p> <p> If some students who stayed behind expressed surprise or bafflement at their classmates leaving the room, she said, teachers would use their own tact and judgment about how to explain it. &ldquo;The way I would word it is that some kids are walking out to show support for lessening school violence, in honor of the people in Florida,&rdquo; Ms. Peterson said.</p> <p> Joel Pelcyger, head and founder of the PS1 Pluralistic School, a private school in Santa Monica, Calif., consulted with parents before deciding that observing the walkout was not a political statement, but a way to empower his students and make them feel safe, regardless of age.</p> <p> &ldquo;The way you make people safe is by feeling that like they&rsquo;re part of something larger than themselves,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p> But in Alexandria, Va., when one school decided that fifth graders could join the walkout if their parents signed them out, a parent lodged her own form of protest.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"> <p dir="ltr" lang="en"> This is being organized by groups that want to ban all guns and are demanding congress act. Kids shouldn&rsquo;t be used as props.</p> &mdash; Julie Gunlock (@JGunlock) <a href="">March 2, 2018</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#c93b2e;">&ldquo;My elementary school has 5-year-olds in it,&rdquo; the parent, Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the conservative-leaning Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum, said in an interview. &ldquo;Some of my friends, their kids are much younger than a fifth grader. And it&rsquo;s frightening to them.&rdquo;</span></strong></span></span></p> <p> Maeva Lile, 11, one of the fifth-grade organizers at Case Elementary in Akron, said that most of her friends were aware of the gun-control debate and thought that&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">AR-15s</a>, the powerful rifle used in Parkland and other mass shootings, should not be legal. But she said her class did not want to debate the Second Amendment, and so its posters will simply honor the students killed in Parkland with their names.</p> <p> Still, she thought it was time for children to do something. &ldquo;Adults have been protesting against things,&rdquo; she said on Monday, &ldquo;but nothing has changed that much.&rdquo;</p> GunlockTue, 13 Mar 2018 09:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt's Melatonin, Not Hard Drugs!<p> The New York Post runs this scary headline this morning:</p> <p> <a href=";utm_source=NYPTwitter&amp;utm_medium=SocialFlow">&quot;Day Care Workers Charged with Giving Kids Melatonin-Laced Gummy Bears&quot;</a></p> <p> First of all, yes, parents of children who attended this daycare certainly have a right to be irritated, even upset, with the naptime strategy employed by these daycare workers. But let&#39;s consider the headline and the use of the word &quot;laced.&quot;</p> <p> These gummy bears weren&#39;t &quot;laced&quot; with drugs. These women didn&#39;t soak these gummies in liquid opioids or dip them in crushed Ambien tablets before handing them to the kids. These <em>are</em> gummy melatonin tablets--which are manufactured to contain a small dose of melatonin and are labeled as such. Parents use these gummies regularly as a natural and safe sleep aids for children. I give my kids melatonin gummy bears on occasion--particularly on nights where there&#39;s been an evening event (Boy Scouts, a basketball game, or a late evening at friend&rsquo;s house) and I need them to wind down.&nbsp;</p> <p> Melatonin isn&#39;t some sort of hard drug. It&#39;s a naturally occurring hormone that everyone has in their body that helps control the internal body clock. In short, it helps us calm down at night so eventually we&#39;ll go to bed.</p> <p> <a href="">According to WebMD</a>,&nbsp;melatonin levels begin to rise in the mid- to late evening, remain high for most of the night, and then drop in the early morning hours.&nbsp;Now the melatonin in these gummy bears is a synthetic form of this natural hormone but it acts much the same as natural melatonin. And there seems to be a good amount of scientific evidence that melatonin shortens the time it takes kids to fall asleep although it doesn&#39;t help them stay asleep.</p> <p> According to the Post, the workers, who are 19, 25 and 32, &ldquo;&hellip; face charges of endangering the life or health of a child and battery.&rdquo; This seems extreme and unnecessary. I agree that they should have checked with parents and perhaps these women should lose their their jobs and even licenses but these women didn&#39;t dose kids with a dangerous drug or slip some sort of sleeping pill into their midday milk, as that headline suggests.</p> GunlockTue, 6 Mar 2018 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumStudy Affirms: BPA, Just Like GMOs, Is Safe<p> A new government study on Bisphenol A (BPA) went largely unnoticed, or at least grossly underreported, perhaps because it once again tramples on the &ldquo;settled science&rdquo; narrative. For example, a 2008 New York Times&nbsp;<a href="">editorial</a>&nbsp;offered this advice: &ldquo;Congress should push for a ban of BPA in such items as baby bottles or cups.&rdquo; And writing in the Huffington Post a few years later, Sen. Dianne Feinstein explained: &ldquo;I introduced the Ban Poisonous Additives (BPA) Act of 2009, which would eliminate the use of BPA from all food and beverage containers.&rdquo;</p> <p> Yet as noted in a recent NPR headline, &ldquo;<a href="">Plastic Additive BPA Not Much Of A Threat, Government Study Finds</a>.&rdquo; In summary: &ldquo;A two-year government study of rats found that even high doses of the plastic additive produced only &lsquo;minimal effects,&rsquo; and that these effects could have occurred by chance.&rdquo; The National Toxicology Program, National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration collaborated on the study.</p> <p> <span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">The Independent Women&rsquo;s Forum&rsquo;s Julie Gunlock&nbsp;</span></span><a href=""><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">observes</span></span></a><span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, &ldquo;Anti-chemical and environmental activists have, for years, been saying that BPA causes a whole host of health problems and have pointed to studies that suggest the same. Yet, those studies have always found correlations, not actual causation. Finding correlations between a substance and a disease can be helpful, but these sorts of studies are limited and are never viewed by the scientific community as &lsquo;proof&rsquo; that a substance is bad or harmful.&rdquo;</span></span></strong></span></p> <p> <span style="color:#ffffff;"><span style="font-size:14px;"><strong><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">Gunlock adds, &ldquo;Consumers should also feel outraged that many manufacturers, instead of pushing back on the activists, capitulated to the demands and then simply switched out BPA for a chemical called BP</span><em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">S</span></em><span style="background-color:#ea425b;">, which &hellip; is actually a more potent &lsquo;endocrine disrupter&rsquo; that the human body does not metabolize as easily as BPA. Is that improvement? No, that&rsquo;s a cynical gesture by product manufacturers to give the activists a win while appearing to &lsquo;care&rsquo; for human health and mother earth.&rdquo; </span></strong></span></span>This environmental charade takes an economic toll too. Removing BPA meant huge product changes, the costs of which are passed on to the consumer.</p> <p> A very similar thing happened with genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Despite the enormous flak generated against genetically modified crops, a 2016 study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine was actually&nbsp;<a href="">favorable</a>&nbsp;toward them. But the critics remain unfazed.</p> <p> Not every environmental fanatic has ill motives, but many certainly have an agenda. Their responses to BPA and GMOs are perfect examples. The most vocal people who profess to follow the science wherever it goes suddenly become extremely hesitant to embrace it when it contradicts their broader agenda. Perhaps it&rsquo;s time they stop drinking the Kool-Aid.</p> GunlockThu, 1 Mar 2018 08:03:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumIt’s time for Sheriff Scott Israel to be put in a time out<p> Sometimes my children frustrate me by refusing to take responsibility for their actions while also puffing themselves up as virtuous superheroes out to save the world. These are all forgivable &mdash; even cute &mdash; characteristics in a child.</p> <p> Yet it&rsquo;s difficult to forgive Broward County Sheriff&nbsp;<a href="">Scott Israel</a>, who, without exception, in his public comments and press appearances on the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., comes off like an impenitent child who lies (badly) to cover up his blunders, is incapable of self-examination, and refused to admit he shares any of the blame for the horrors his community just experienced. Despite the obvious failures in his management, Israel shows no contrition and instead brags about himself as showing &ldquo;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">amazing leadership</a>.&rdquo;</p> <p> The people of Parkland deserve better in their top law enforcement official. At the very least, they deserve to have an adult in the position.</p> <p> For the parents of the victims of the Parkland shooting, Israel&rsquo;s lack of remorse must be particularly difficult to see. This level of self-delusion and misplaced confidence signals that Israel isn&rsquo;t at all interested in reforming the system he now runs &mdash; a system that failed all the kids at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. &nbsp;Israel&rsquo;s most passionate calls have been for more gun control. &nbsp;That&#39;s an important political debate worth having, but in his position, one would hope that he would show equal interest in how the system under his control failed to stop the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz.</p> <p> Israel&rsquo;s deflections and buck passing started immediately after the shootings. Even before the full details were known to press or public (but were largely known to Israel and many officials in the sheriff&rsquo;s department), Israel went on live television to participate in CNN&rsquo;s grotesque peep-show of a town hall meeting where, in front of an audience made up of the victims and victims&rsquo; families, he focused not on the particulars of how this well-known threat to the public wasn&#39;t contained, but on scapegoating the woman sitting to his left &mdash; Dana Loesch and the organization she represents &mdash; the National Rifle Association.</p> <p> While letting the understandably angry audience attack Ms. Loesch, Israel never once acknowledged the multiple red flags his office ignored. He failed to mention the&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reported&nbsp;45 times</a>&nbsp;Broward County sheriff&rsquo;s officers&rsquo; and other city officials were called to visit Cruz over the years. And when Loesch very reasonably brought up these visits, like a child, Israel claimed none of the incidents were actionable.</p> <p> Israel also concealed the fact that 18 of those visits were made after individuals close to Cruz called into the sheriff&rsquo;s office to alert them that Cruz was making threats of violence. In one call to the sheriff&rsquo;s office, the callers even&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reported</a>&nbsp;that Cruz&nbsp;&quot;planned to shoot up the&nbsp;school.&rdquo; Israel also conveniently forgot to mention that in five of those calls, the caller or callers&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">mentioned</a>&nbsp;Cruz had access to weapons.</p> <p> Israel&rsquo;s greatest failure, for which he hasn&#39;t taken responsibility, is that the connections his office made with Cruz did not&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">result</a>&nbsp;in the information being&nbsp;entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This is the reason Cruz passed his background check and was then able to legally purchase a gun.&nbsp;</p> <p> Broward County residents should also be asking Israel what happened with the other officers who had a chance to limit the carnage. Apparently the day of the shooting, three sheriffs deputies who were ostensibly trained and ready to deal with this type of mass shooting incident, cowered outside the school while Cruz was able to pass through the halls undeterred.&nbsp;</p> <p> The school&rsquo;s armed &ldquo;resource officer&rdquo; was no better. He hid in a&nbsp;<a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">stairwell</a>, never attempting to stop Cruz, nor render aid to those who were injured. It wasn&rsquo;t until officers from a neighboring county arrived that police entered the school.</p> <p> For this and many other reasons, Israel should act like an adult, take responsibility for these failures and step down.</p> GunlockWed, 28 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBPA Safety Confirmed Again<p> Well, there&rsquo;s yet more evidence out there that the hysteria about the chemical Bisphenol-A (more commonly called BPA) was just a bunch of hooey promoted by green activists who want BPA and many other useful and perfectly safe chemicals banned.</p> <p> I&rsquo;ve written about BPA (<a href=";-media-ignores">here</a>, here, and here, and for a useful fact sheet, go <a href="">here</a>) for years, trying to explain that BPA isn&rsquo;t the scary thing it&rsquo;s made out to be and now a two-year government study of rats has found that there&rsquo;s really nothing to worry about.</p> <p> The study&rsquo;s results are explained in an impressive 249-page report, which was a joint effort by the National Toxicology Program, the National Institutes of Health, and the Food and Drug Administration. The study&rsquo;s researchers are clear: &quot;BPA produced minimal effects&quot; and that the effects they did see appeared to be &quot;within the range of normal biological variation&rdquo; which means they could have occurred by chance.</p> <p> <a href="">NPR reports</a>:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> The finding bolsters the Food and Drug Administration&#39;s 2014 assessment that water bottles and other products containing BPA are not making people sick.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> &quot;[It] supports our determination that currently authorized uses of BPA continue to be safe for consumers,&quot; said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, the FDA&#39;s deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine, in a statement issued by the agency.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> The study&#39;s findings are at odds with claims by advocacy groups that exposure to BPA is associated with a wide range of health effects including cancer, obesity and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.</p> <p> Indeed. Anti-chemical and environmental activists have, for years, been saying that BPA causes a whole host of health problems and have pointed to studies that suggest the same. Yet, those studies have always found correlations, not actual causation. Finding correlations between a substance and a disease can be helpful, but these sorts of studies are limited and are never viewed by the scientific community as &ldquo;proof&rdquo; that a substance is bad or harmful.</p> <p> Consider this example of activists&rsquo; scary claims against BPA. Activists often say that BPA causes obesity because sodas are bottled in plastic containers that contain BPA. Okay, fine, plastic soda bottles do contain barely detectable levels of BPA, but those bottles also contain a whole lot of sugary drink. Might it be the cola that&rsquo;s contributing to someone&rsquo;s weight problem, over the trace amounts of BPA they&rsquo;re ingesting by drinking a soda?</p> <p> But, wait. Is it really the soda? One must also consider the fact that people who drink large quantities of high-calorie, sugary drinks usually don&rsquo;t have great eating habits. Could it be the Big Mac or greasy pizza they&rsquo;re eating along with that soda that&rsquo;s causing this person&rsquo;s weight problems?</p> <p> Yes, it might be that, or it might be the fact that people who don&rsquo;t care much about eating well, also tend not to exercise. Perhaps it&rsquo;s the lack of exercise?</p> <p> See how this works? It&rsquo;s very easy to make correlations, but finding the actual causes of disorders, like obesity, is a bit tougher.</p> <p> <a href="">NPR also explains</a> that many of the studies pushed by the anti-BPA crowd don&rsquo;t meet the basics of scientific standards:</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> Critics of the chemical point to numerous small studies done by academic researchers. These studies, usually of rodents, have suggested that BPA can disrupt the body&#39;s hormone system in ways that affect health.</p> <p style="margin-left:.5in;"> But studies that met the FDA&#39;s Good Laboratory Practice standards have suggested that BPA is safe at levels encountered by consumers. So the agency has approved its use in most consumer products.</p> <p> This study should reassure consumers that BPA is a perfectly safe chemical that&rsquo;s used by manufacturers to make products safer, more durable, and less expensive. But consumers should also consider who is to blame for this decade-long campaign of misinformation about BPA: anti-chemical activists groups like the Environmental Working Group, the <a href="'s-a-Demand-For-Junk-Science">Breast Cancer Fund</a>, and the Safer Chemicals, Healthier Families Campaign (which is really just a collection of about 200 radical environmental and anti-business organizations), so called mommy blogs like Mamavation and so many individual activists who stoked consumer fears while ignoring the safety record of BPA. These groups are prolific pushers of junk science, they like and fabricate and terrorize all consumers in an effort to take product development and safety back decades&mdash;and they don&rsquo;t care how many people they harm as a result.</p> <p> Consumers should also pause to consider the cost of manufacturing changes as consumer demand grew for BPA-free products. Moms, in particular, should feel angry about all the false and baseless claims that children had been harmed, which lead not only to a whole lot of unpleasant anxiety but to the FDA banning BPA in all children&rsquo;s products, and as a result increased the price on these products.</p> <p> Consumers should also feel outraged that many manufacturers, instead of pushing back on the activists, capitulated to the demands and then simply switched out BPA for a chemical called BP<strong><em>S</em></strong>, which, as IWF Senior Fellow Angela Logomasini <a href="">explained</a>, is actually a more potent &ldquo;endocrine disrupter&rdquo; that the human body does not metabolize as easily as BPA. Is that improvement? No, that&rsquo;s a cynical gesture by product manufacturers to give the activists a win while appearing to &ldquo;care&rdquo; for human health and mother earth. Wouldn&rsquo;t it have been easier to fight back and stand up for product safety?</p> <p> Moms should also be disgusted that they paid extra to get BPA-free products&mdash;money that could have gone into college funds or to pay for family vacations, for food, clothing, heat. Eventually, every thing became BPA-free, but consumers paid for those products to be redesigned and reformulated. Again, the consumer lost.</p> <p> Who won? The anti-chemical activists who got rich off needlessly worried moms and other consumers who believed the myth that BPA was harmful because these groups refused to acknowledge the overwhelming evidence that BPA is safe.</p> <p> We can&rsquo;t turn back the clock on the BPA farce, but hopefully consumers will be wise to the tactics employed by activists&mdash;tactics that do nothing to protect consumers or improve the environment. &nbsp;</p> GunlockMon, 26 Feb 2018 10:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumFood Allergy Activists Allergic to Jokes<p> Parents of children with food allergies have a tough job keeping their kids safe.&nbsp;<a href="">According to the CDC</a>, approximately 3 million children suffer from some sort of food allergy, and some are very serious. Nearly 10,000 children are&nbsp;<a href="">hospitalized</a>each year because of bad reactions to food.&nbsp;</p> <p> So it&rsquo;s confusing that the just-released movie &ldquo;Peter Rabbit&rdquo; has come under fire for highlighting the seriousness of this condition. One would think parents would cheer a major Hollywood studio deciding to demonstrate the danger associated with food allergies.&nbsp;</p> <p> Yet, instead of praise, food allergy activists and parents of children who have food allergies have&nbsp;<a href="">attacked</a>&nbsp;Sony Pictures and &ldquo;Peter Rabbit.&rdquo; They claim the movie&nbsp;<a href="">mocks</a>&nbsp;the condition and&nbsp;<a href="">encourages</a>&nbsp;&ldquo;food allergy bullying,&rdquo; which, they explain, is when children use food to bully and even assault children with food allergies. Naturally, there have been calls to boycott the movie.</p> <p> The scene in this updated version of the classic book involves Peter&rsquo;s nemesis, Tom McGregor, the son of Mr. McGregor. Tom&rsquo;s raison d&rsquo;&ecirc;tre is to kill Peter and all the other &ldquo;vermin&rdquo; in his late father&rsquo;s garden. So, after learning that Tom suffers from a severe allergy to blackberries, Peter and his friends decide to pelt Tom with the berries and actually aim for Tom&rsquo;s mouth. As predicted, Tom has a dangerous allergic reaction and things start to look pretty grim. But just before Tom keels over, he administers medicine from his EpiPen, which saves his life.&nbsp;</p> <p> One might interpret this scene as a good demonstration of the danger of food allergies. Yet, in an&nbsp;<a href="">open letter</a>&nbsp;to studio executives, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America claimed that the scene, &ldquo;featured the intentional attack of the McGregor character with the food he is allergic to &mdash; the implication being that the rabbits wanted to kill or harm McGregor with this method.&rdquo;</p> <p> Well, that&rsquo;s true. Peter did want to kill Tom, and there&rsquo;s certainly a conversation to have about whether it&rsquo;s appropriate to take Beatrix Potter&rsquo;s sweet story of childish misadventure into Tarantino movie style territory. Yet, it&rsquo;s also worth noting that cartoon characters have a long tradition of trying to kill each other &mdash; wickedly and violently. In fact, devising disturbing ways in which to seriously injure or even murder one&rsquo;s enemy has been the prevailing theme in cartoons since the medium was created.&nbsp;</p> <p> While modern cartoons have become softer and gentler and often carry social justice messages about inclusion and kindness, classic cartoon characters like Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner, Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, or Marvin the Martian spent most episodes insulting one another while simultaneously trying to knock each other off. Perhaps that was the biggest mistake Sony made: trying to update the mode of murder to something more au courant &mdash; like food allergies.</p> <p> The good folks at the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America also seem a bit confused about the literary concepts of protagonist and antagonist. In their letter, they advise Sony Pictures executives to &ldquo;examine your portrayal of bullying in your films geared toward a young audience.&rdquo; Yet, in &ldquo;Peter Rabbit,&rdquo; Peter isn&rsquo;t the bully. Peter is the good guy &mdash; the one we root for and the character we want to see survive. Tom is actually the antagonist or the &ldquo;bully.&rdquo; He&rsquo;s the one who is out to kill sweet Peter and all his furry friends. What Peter did with the blackberries wasn&rsquo;t bullying; that was self-defense.&nbsp;</p> <p> Sony Studios can learn a lesson from this latest outrage and consider what parents really want in children&rsquo;s programming. Perhaps it&rsquo;s time to cut it out with the unnecessary violence and disturbing images. People and kids desire simpler, family-friendlier content, not scenes that invoke &mdash; good or bad &mdash; how people react to food allergies.</p> <p> And in today&rsquo;s overly sensitive culture, Hollywood studios would be wise to stick to the classic and less real-world way of killing your cartoon enemies &mdash; throwing them off a cliff, setting them on fire, running them over with a truck, or hitting them over the head with a hammer or frying pan. But never, ever use a slingshot to lob a piece of fruit into somebody&rsquo;s mouth &mdash; that apparently is too close to how the real world works.</p> <div> &nbsp;</div> GunlockThu, 22 Feb 2018 08:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhy it's good to give your kids a measure of freedom • NRA News Cam & Company GunlockTue, 20 Feb 2018 15:02:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum