5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Seattle Seahawks

January 29, 2015 by  
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You might know that the Seattle Seahawks are going to destroy the New England Patriots this Sunday, but despite your fandom for the blue and green, there’s probably some trivia you’d like to brush up on about your favorite team.

Especially if you’re one of the diehard Twelves, you’ve got to learn these five things about the Seahawks before they take on the Patriots at Super Bowl XLIX.

Grab some Skittles and keep reading.

1. The logo was based off a real transformation mask made by the regional Kwakwaka’wakw tribe.

seahawks mask

The designers for the Seattle Seahawks logo were inspired by native Northwest Coast art, specifically settling on a Kwakwaka’wakw transformation mask. In 2014, Robin K. Wright, Curator of Native American art at the Burke Museum in Washington, wrote an article about the mask which at the time had unknown whereabouts. But Wright’s article ended up causing the mask to be rediscovered at the Hudson Museum in Maine, which had not originally been mentioning anything about Seahawk logo inspiration.

The mask’s similarities to the Seattle Seahawks logo went unnoticed while at the Hudson Museum because it was always featured in an open position, showing the human face inside rather than the “thunderbird.”

Now the mask has been temporarily moved to the Burke Museum in Washington where it is currently on display until July, 2015. Ex-Seahawks star quarterback Jim Zorn was there for the opening celebration. The Huffington Post reached out to Wright about the mask who explained:

It was used as a transformation mask. It’s a type of mask that’s used by the Kwakwaka’wakw people in their winter ceremony that’s called the Tlasula. It’s the ceremony where the inherited privileges of the host family are brought out and displayed in the big house in the firelight and the dancer dances the mask around the fire.

To have your family go through this ceremony was a “very prestigious privilege.”

The Burke Museum in Washington and Hudson Museum in Maine have a friendly Super Bowl bet over their two home teams. If the Patriots win than the Hudson is getting Seattle crabs and if the Seahawks win Maine lobsters are coming to Washington. “We like to say that the Seahawks haven’t lost since the mask came to Seattle,” said Wright.

Images provided by the Burke Museum. Image top right was provided to them by the Hudson Museum and image bottom right is originally from the book Art of the Northwest Coast Indians.

2. A Washington resident named Hazel Cooke is credited with naming the team after winning a contest.


Before mentioning anything else, it should probably be said that the football team isn’t the first “Seattle Seahawks” to exist in the city. From 1933 to 1941 a hockey team called the Seattle Seahawks played in the North West and Pacific Coast hockey leagues.

Jump a few decades later and the NFL awards an expansion team to Seattle. At this time, the new organization held a contest to name the team and as the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, 20,365 entries were submitted with 1,741 different proposed names. Mariners, Evergreens, Olympics and Sockeyes were among those proposed. 151 of those names were for the “Seattle Seahawks.”

From those 151 names, the now-called Seattle Seahawks organization drew a name randomly to determine who officially named the team. A woman named Hazel Cooke won and said at the time, “I submitted Seahawks because it’s alliterative with Seattle. And a hawk is proud, bold, fierce. I hope the team will be such.” Cooke won two 1976 season tickets

The others who submitted “Seattle Seahawks” also received some prizes. One winner was Deane Brazas who wrote to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer to describe what he got:

In addition to a framed certificate signed by the owners, I received a personalized book about the history of the team, complete with photos and bios of all the original players and owners. In addition, I received two tickets to a preseason game every year until Paul Allen bought the team.

3. The “Legion of Boom” all started with an innocuous comment about dieting by Kam Chancellor.


The origin of this phrase is considered a bit of a mystery, but here’s what seems to be the most likely backstory.

Kam Chancellor was guesting on “The Bob and Groz Show” in August, 2012 when he simply said, “I changed my diet up, just eating a lot cleaner, just eating chicken, fish, vegetables, fruit, trying to stay light to where I can run fast, but also still have a little weight to keep that boom.”

This mention of keeping up “that boom” took off as around that time the show was looking for suggestions of what to call the Seahawks backfield. Later in October, 2013 Chancellor was back on “The Bob and Groz Show” to give them credit saying:

It started on your show, yeah I remember saying ‘the boom’, the whole boom idea, and then it went to Twitter, and the 12th Man came up with “Legion of Boom,” and you know we just ran with it there. But it definitely started on your show, with me saying ‘boom.’

The first surviving tweet from that first August 2012 was made by @realjoedurfee and said, “#Seahawks secondary is now called The Legion Of Boom. I kinda like it.” HuffPost reached out to Joe asking where he’d first heard the “Legion of Doom” and he said it was “just something that someone had suggested and I guess it stuck.” Joe said he heard it on 710 ESPN Seattle, the station that plays “The Bob and Groz Show.”

4. The first ever player to be drafted by the Seahawks was almost one of their greatest of all time, but then got an injury after one season.


Defensive tackle Steve Niehaus was the first person chosen by the Seattle Seahawks and the second overall in the 1976 draft. Occasionally he is thrown into a list of terrible draft choices, but this isn’t quite what happened.

In this first year with the Seahawks, Niehaus notched 9.5 sacks which still stands as a team-high total. By the end of the year he’d also received the NFC Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Niehaus was on pace to be one of the defensive greats.

Unfortunately, Niehaus’ arm just wouldn’t hold up. As Seattle Times writer Danny O’Neil described, “Niehaus would lie there and twitch and wait for someone to reset the joint.” That would be after the arm came out of his socket, regularly. Occasionally Niehaus would even use a leather strap to keep his arm in his side and still play football. When Niehaus finally had a major operation on the arm however, he was done and had to quit the game. It’s too bad this first Seahawk found out what happened when you fly too close to the Sun.

Image Right: Seahawks Official Website

5. Seahawks fans have created multiple earthquakes.


The Marshawn Lynch 67-yard touchdown “Beast Quake” run in 2011 was noticed by John Vidale, director of the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network, who on a whim discovered that a seismic monitoring station about 100 yards west of Qwest Field had recorded a magnitude somewhere between 1 and 3.

This original Seahawk fan created earthquake lasted about 30 seconds.

The 12th man did it again during the 2015 playoffs when Kam Chancellor returned an interception against the Carolina Panthers for 90-yard touchdown run.

And then a “dance quake” was reported to have occurred by ESPN after the win against the Green Bay Packers to advance to the 2015 Super Bowl. The University of Washington’s Steve Malone said that this dance quake was the biggest seismic signal Seahawks fans had ever created. If only the Super Bowl was a home game!

With all this ground-shaking activity, seismic sensors have actually been installed at CenturyLink Field to monitor further earthquakes caused by Seahawks fans.

BONUS: The “12th Man” is so loud that it’s close to ear rupturing. No other crowd causes more false starts.

TK TK gifs

The Twelves have gotten up to 137.6 decibels, which is just about 12 decibels from what it takes to rupture an eardrum.

Because of this extremely loud crowd, ever since the team started recording opposing team false starts at home games in 2005, the Seahawks have led the league.

In 2006, when the team was still at Qwest Field the Giants GM Ernie Accorsi complained to the league that the Seahawks might be blasting additional crowd noise out of their speakers. This was found to be completely false, Seattle fans are really just that loud.

All images Getty unless otherwise noted.

The Star Of Karen Walker’s New Campaign Is A Dog Who Has More Confidence Than Most People

January 28, 2015 by  
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By now, you’ve probably heard of Toast, the almost impossibly cute, toothless dog who has catapulted to Instagram celebrity status.

If not, stop what you’re doing, find the nearest smartphone and follow @toastmeetsworld on Instagram. The adorable pup has already made her rounds within the fashion community (rubbing paws with the likes of Karlie Kloss & Irina Shayk on a regular basis) but this dog is much more than just good looks. In fact, she (along with her owners) use her fame as a platform to advocate against puppy mills, like the one from which she was rescued.

Just found out it is National Dog Dress Up Day so I’m posting one of my favorite outfits. #Frenchtoast #carbloading

Une photo publiée par TOAST MEETS WORLD™ (@toastmeetsworld) le 14 Janv. 2015 à 20h50 PST

It is in that spirit of good style & good cause that eyewear extraordinaire Karen Walker decided to feature Toast in her summer 2015 campaign. Sure, Walker has commissioned some unconventional models before, but Toast is a different kind of celebrity. “It wasn’t until we first saw this season’s star that we thought there was a celebrity who could actually capture the essence of our brand in a campaign,” she said.

We had a chance to, er, “chat” with the King Charles Cavalier Spaniel (really her owner Katie Sturino, obviously) about her rise to stardom, the modeling advice she received pre-shoot (hint: it involves Beyoncé, naturally), and of course, how she keeps her coat so shiny.

HuffPost Style:First of all, you look fantastic in the new campaign. You were already so stylish before, how do you think being in this ad will change your look?
Toast: Well, I think I won’t be caught dead in public without a pair of Karen Walker’s.

HPS: What is your favorite pair in the collection?
T: The Starburst in Navy. Who doesn’t love a cat eye on a dog?


HPS: Besides a pair of KW’s, what are three things every “NYC It Girl” needs in her wardrobe?
T: A solid tote that can act as a suit case (I throw my laptop, scarf, wallet, a magazine…and occasionally myself into one.) I prefer Iomoi’s classic tote, a leather jacket that makes you instantly feel like you are in the Ramones (I prefer BLK DNM) and finally, a turban.

HPSWhy do you think she picked you for the campaign?
T: Have you seen the photos?

HPS:What do your owners think of the campaign?
T:My mom is basically Kris Jenner, trying to live out her dreams as a model through me, so she is over the moon. My dad is pretty out of it but I am sure he is proud.


HPS: Did you receive any modeling advice?
T: Yes, Karlie Kloss is a friend. She sat me down and taught me how to turn it on in front of the camera. I can be shy, so she told me to pretend I was someone else during the job. So, I pretended I was Beyoncé. I think that is just the normal thing to do right now when you want to feel brave and hot.

HPS:What would you say to other dogs trying to break into the modeling industry?
T: Don’t give up.

karen walker toast

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence Seeks To Reassure Critics Of Controversial ‘State-Run News Outlet’

January 27, 2015 by  
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NEW YORK — When the Indianapolis Star broke the news Monday night that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a possible 2016 Republican contender, was planning to launch a “state-run news outlet” to compete against local media outlets, journalists widely took umbrage on Twitter over an idea that seemed more likely to come out of an authoritarian country than a Midwestern state.

Indiana journalists took particular offense at the idea of taxpayer dollars funding a service that would publish reports presumably favorable to Pence’s administration, under the guise of authentic news stories. (Monday’s report indicated that the outlet will be helmed by former Indianapolis Star reporter Bill McCleery.)

“Every professional journalist in Indiana should join me in denouncing Gov. Pence’s state-run ‘news service,” Indianapolis Star investigative reporter John Russell tweeted Monday night. And the paper’s opinion editor Tim Swarens urged Pence on Tuesday to “do the right thing and pull the plug on this horrible, terrible, really no-good idea.”

Now, amid the rising backlash, Pence may be backtracking on his plans for the news service, called Just IN.

Matthew Tully, a political columnist at the Star, suggested Monday night that Pence didn’t grasp the First Amendment. “When creating our government, our founders put freedom of the press into the constitution,” Tully wrote. “Right there in the First Amendment. Now Pence is acting as if he thinks the press should be our government.”

Pence apparently heard the criticism: The governor called Tully on Tuesday morning and walked back his administration’s plans for Just IN.

Tully tweeted that Pence had vowed to make sure Just IN was “just a clearinghouse” for news releases. (Pence himself said in a Monday night tweet that Just IN would be merely a spruced-up version of the Indiana state government’s current calendar of press releases).

The columnist told The Huffington Post that his impression after speaking to Pence was that the governor is not planning to go forward with the version of the news service that had triggered criticism from journalists. Tully also noted that Pence told him “he had little knowledge of what the staffers were working on.”

Kara Brooks, press secretary for Pence, did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Tully, Pence also made clear his “strong affection for a free and independent press.”

Pence, a former talk show host, has been more vocal than many politicians on the issue of press freedom. He has pushed for shield laws to protect journalists from being compelled in court to reveal confidential sources. And when he represented Indiana’s Sixth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pence was a staunch opponent of the Fairness Doctrine. The doctrine, before it was struck down in 1987, allowed the government more control over political speech on the airwaves. “The American people cherish freedom, especially freedom of speech and of the press,” Pence said in 2011, following calls by some Democrats to consider reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Such regulation, Pence said, “would amount to government control over political views expressed on the public airways.”

But even though Pence has made these supportive comments, it’s not surprising that he, like most politicians, would consider ways to outflank the traditional press corps. These days, politicians can go directly to constituents and voters through social media, and cut out state political reporters by turning to talk radio hosts or partisan bloggers who are likely to be more sympathetic. The Obama White House has circumvented Washington reporters over the years by breaking news on Twitter, detailing policy initiatives on on whitehouse.gov, and, recently, publishing the State of the Union address in full on Medium.com and giving three YouTube stars access to the president.

But what Pence’s administration was planning, according to Monday’s report, would go beyond simply bypassing the media filter. Rather, Just IN would be a media competitor — one with an inside track to the governor and a pro-administration agenda.

In the Indianapolis Star report, Tom LoBianco reported that the outlet would “break news” — which goes beyond Pence’s description of a service that just published press releases. LoBianco also reported that “one target audience for the governor’s stories would be smaller newspapers that have only a few staffers.”

Such a strategy, while anathema to many journalists, could be effective. The Indiana press corps, like those in statehouses around the country, has diminished in recent years as newspapers have either shuttered or scaled back resources in response to declining print revenues.

Mary Beth Schneider, who worked at the Indianapolis Star for 35 years and spent much of that time covering the state government, told HuffPost on Tuesday that there were probably three times as many reporters in the statehouse when she started covering the legislature in 1991. Schneider, who left the paper last year, expressed concerns that some smaller Indiana publications, which don’t have a reporter in the statehouse or can’t afford news wires like The Associated Press, would consider running state-generated articles.

“There will be a temptation to pick up these so-called new stories,” she said. “They’re not news. They’re press releases.”

Former CIA Agent Jeffrey Sterling Convicted For Leaking Information To New York Times Reporter

January 26, 2015 by  
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — A jury has convicted a former CIA officer of leaking classified details of an operation to thwart Iran’s nuclear ambitions to a New York Times reporter.

Jurors convicted 47-year-old Jeffrey Sterling, of O’Fallon, Missouri, of all nine counts he faced in federal court on Monday.

Prosecutors said Sterling disclosed the mission to journalist James Risen to get back at the CIA for perceived mistreatment.

Sterling was the handler for a Russian-born CIA asset nicknamed Merlin, who was at the center of an operation to funnel deliberately flawed nuclear-weapons blueprints to the Iranians.

Risen wrote about the operation in a 2006 book. Risen refused to divulge his sources, and prosecutors eventually dropped their effort to force Risen to testify.

Sterling denied leaking anything to Risen, and said it was more likely Risen learned about the mission from Senate staffers who had been briefed on it.

Saudi Myths

January 25, 2015 by  
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Many are voicing surprise at the comments of IMF head Christine Lagarde following the death of the Saudi monarch:

He was a great leader. He implemented lots of reforms, at home, and in a very discreet way, he was a great advocate for woman. It was very gradual, appropriately so probably for the country, but I discussed that issue with him several times and he was a strong believer.

After a reporter expressed surprise that a woman would say that, Lagarde added: “Very often, Saudi Arabia is portrayed as a place where women do not play quite the same role.” The last sentence hasn’t been seriously scrutinized, but it should be. “Quite the same role” is a remarkable way to describe a country that has a system of male guardianship.

But I think it’s noteworthy that the source of the comments was hardly some random woman. It was the head of the IMF, an international financial institution purported to aid the global development but that is frequently criticized as doing the bidding of the rich and powerful — such as the major U.S. and European banks. And, like a good managing director, Lagarde is probably on the lookout for more funding for the IMF, it’s not straightforward to find out how much the Saudis have already ponied up. But once again, we see here the emptiness — even on the most limited basis — of a shallow diversity that seeks to put a woman or African American in a prominent position while maintaining incredibly oppressive power dynamics.

Back in 2011, when the Arab uprisings were in their seemingly promising first year I vigorously questioned Saudi Amb. Turki about the legitimacy of the Saudi regime. I did this because I could see what was happening: The uprisings were taking root — and deforming to into violent proxy wars — in secular states (Libya and Syria), which were at times somewhat critical of the U.S. establishment — while the pro-U.S. establishment regimes, largely monarchies like Saudi Arabia, were getting let off the hook. Those repressive monarchies would therefore be able to mold events in the formerly secular states. Democracy, equality and the voice of the people would not be on their list of goals.

So, when he came to the National Press Club, I asked Turki what the legitimacy of the Saudi regime was. I was immediately suspended from the Press Club for my actions, though that was receded by the Club’s Ethics Committee some 10 days later. I was very gratified for having received support from a good number of people during my suspension, but one unfortunate aspect of the suspension is that it drew attention away from what Turki said in our exchange.

His first line of defense to my questioning the legitimacy of the regime was this:

I don’t need to justify my country’s legitimacy. We’re participants in all of the international organizations and we contribute to the welfare of people through aid program not just directly from Saudi Arabia but through all the international agencies that are working throughout the world to provide help and support for people.

I thus wrote at the time:

Turki’s response that Saudi Arabia gets legitimacy because of its aid programs is an interesting notion. Is he arguing that by giving aid to other countries and to international organizations that the Saudi regime has somehow purchased legitimacy, and perhaps immunity from criticism, that it would otherwise not have received? This is worth journalists and independent organizations pursuing.

I suspect that that’s exactly what we’re seeing manifested in Lagarde’s comments. Some have noted aspects of the collusion between international financial institutions like the IMF and the Saudis, see for example, Adam Hanieh’s piece “Egypt’s Orderly Transition? International Aid and the Rush to Structural Adjustment.” Too often in poor countries around the world, the form of “development” that’s funded is a collusion between what the IMF wants and what states like Saudi Arabia want. Not exactly a prescription for fostering meaningful democratic development. But an excellent example of backscratching between elites. Really, a manifestation of Husseini’s first law of politics: the powers collude and the people get screwed (and not in a good way).

The relativistic part of Lagarade’s comment — “appropriately so probably for the country” — also echoed Turki: “After how many years since the establishment of the United States did women get to vote in the United States? Does that mean that before they got the vote that United States was an illegitimate country?” Indeed, my questioning of Turki was cut off when I tried to follow up with “So are you saying that Arabs are inherently backward?” — that they should be 100 years behind U.S.? Though perhaps the most amusing part of Turki’s comments about women were not in response to me, but the obsequious question that followed mine — asked by a worshiping female — where he refers to a “colleague” being “a woman as you can see.”

The initial media wave of calling “King Abdullah” — why exactly should a reasonable person actually use such absurd titles without scare quotes? — a “reformer” has brought on some minimal backlash. But it’s largely constrained to domestic issues.

The geopolitical threats to democracy and peace are even more daunting — and full of myth. Saudi Arabia has been a center of counter-revolution and worse in Arab countries. The Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, as did the Yemeni dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh for a time. The Saudi regime reportedly tried to prevent the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak from stepping down. Saudi Arabia moved into Bahrain to stop a democratic uprising there. But much of its power is more indirect — for example, through a sizable media infrastructure that highlighted uprisings in secular republics and ignored democratic moves in monarchies.

All this has totally deformed the Arab uprisings the last four years, leading to horrific civil wars and the prospect of wider wars — and it was foreseeable, which is why I and others sought to challenge it from the beginning.

On the U.S.-Saudi relationship, now, the Harvard Political Review tells us:

The partnership was straightforward: Saudi Arabia provided special access to oil for the United States, and in return the superpower developed military installations across Saudi Arabia to advance mutual security goals.

In fact, it was not about “access” to oil as Noam Chomsky has noted, but about control of oil, as well as investment in Western banks, not in real regional or global development. As Eqbal Ahmed was fond of asking: How did the wealth of the Mideast get separated from the people of the region?

The Saudi regime paved the way for the U.S.’s wars against Iraq and elsewhere, postured as helping the Palestinians while in a tacit alliance with the equally hypocritical Israelis. Saudi regime fosters violent al-Qaeda type violent extremism and its U.S. violent mirror image.

In the 1950s and ’60s, the U.S. backed the Saudis to undermine Egypt’s Nasser and slay the prospect of pan-Arabism. Robert Dreyfuss has written: “Choosing Saudi Arabia over Nasser’s Egypt was probably the single biggest mistake the United States has ever made in the Middle East.” Though “mistake” is probably wrong — it has benefited elites tremendously at the expense of people in Arab countries, the U.S. and around the world.

Liberal love making much of the Bush-Saudi connection, which is true enough, but the Saudi-U.S. bond was forged by the great liberal FDR.

Shortly after World War I, the British Foreign Secretary “Lord” Curzon spelled out British aims: “Arab façade ruled and administered under British guidance and controlled by a native Mohammedan and, as far as possible, by an Arab staff.”

So, similarly to Lagarde’s comments, how could any person awake to global dynamics be surprised by the sorrow from elites in the U.S. or that the British flag should be at half-mast with the passing of so useful a native?

Fox News Raises Alarm Over College Course About Race

January 24, 2015 by  
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Fox News is raising alarm bells over an Arizona college course that studies whiteness.

The network’s “Fox and Friends” show ran a segment Friday titled “Trouble with Schools,” criticizing an Arizona State University course called “U.S. Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness,” portraying it as an attack on white people. The professor of the course, Lee Bebout, is white.

“Fox and Friends” co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who has not sat in on the course and was unable to reach the professor for comment, referred to it as “quite unfair, and wrong, and pointed.”

Hasselbeck based her comments on criticisms leveled by ASU student Lauren Clark, who objects to the course’s books, including Richard Delgado’s Critical Race Theory and Jane Hill’s The Everyday Language of White Racism.

“All of these books have a disturbing trend and that’s pointing to white people as a root cause of social injustices for this country,” Clark told Hasselbeck on the segment, adding that such a course “causes more problems than solutions.” Clark is not herself enrolled in the class.

Delgado’s Critical Race Theory is commonly read and taught by academics who study race. Hill’s work exploring the language of racism among whites, first published in 2008, has been positively reviewed in several scholarly journals.

“Jane H. Hill has made a significant contribution to the scholarship of antiracist literature by describing how White racism is reproduced in everyday language in ways that are made to appear natural and normal,” University of Regina professor Carol Schick wrote in a book review for the Journal of American Ethnic History in 2008.

Bebout told the The Arizona Republic that he’d been stressed out after receiving a flurry of hateful emails following the Fox News segment. Neither Bebout nor Clark responded to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.

The university, however, issued a statement Friday after the segment, reading:

This course uses literature and rhetoric to look at how stories shape people’s understandings and experiences of race. It encourages students to examine how people talk about — or avoid talking about — race in the contemporary United States. This is an interdisciplinary course, so students will draw on history, literature, speeches and cultural changes — from scholarly texts to humor. The class is designed to empower students to confront the difficult and often thorny issues that surround us today and reach thoughtful conclusions rather than display gut reactions. A university is an academic environment where we discuss and debate a wide array of viewpoints.

Tensions over how to teach race have erupted repeatedly in Arizona in recent years.

The state legislature passed a law in 2010 to restrict the teaching of ethnic studies, arguing that a Mexican-American studies curriculum in the Tucson public schools had bred resentment against whites.

A state-commissioned audit published in 2011 said the Tucson courses fostered critical thinking and recommended expanding them, while independent researchers found the courses raised student achievement on state tests and boosted the graduation rate in the majority-Latino school district.

State officials nevertheless declared the courses illegal and the local school board discontinued them in January 2012 in order to avoid losing state funding.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently heard oral arguments in a lawsuit brought by former students of the Mexican-American studies courses that seeks to overturn the law.

Watch the Fox News segment in the video above.

Illinois Is Not Actually Requiring Students To Hand Over Their Facebook Passwords

January 23, 2015 by  
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A barrage of news reports over the last week reported that Illinois students are now required to give schools the passwords to their social media accounts because of a new bill.

The panic was brought on after the Triad Community Unit School District No. 2 in southern Illinois notified parents in a letter, obtained by Motherboard, that their children may be requested to provide their passwords.

However, this is “clearly just a misinterpretation” of a new law enacted in the state, Ed Yohnka, spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, told The Huffington Post.

The bill in question, which took effect Jan. 1, expands a school’s responsibility to prevent cyberbullying. It says that if cyberbullying is reported to the school, school administrators can investigate the claim even if the cyberbullying occurred outside of school hours and buildings.

In this way, the bill does extend schools’ reach into students’ online actions.

“We opposed the bill because we thought that the grant of authority, or invitation to investigate, was overly broad,” Yohnka said.

However, Yohnka explained, state Rep. Laura Fine, who led the bill, made it very clear that the bill would not allow schools to require that students hand over social media passwords.

“The intention of the bill is just to help kids. We want to give them the best experience and the safest experience in schools,” Fine told HuffPost.

Fine said she created the bill after speaking with parents and child psychologists about the effects of cyberbullying.

“We have kids who are bullied on Facebook, through text messages. It’s happening on the weekend or at night, and they’re scared to go to school the next day,” Fine said. Parents told her that when they went to schools to get help, they were told that schools could not investigate bullying done outside of school.

Under the new bill, parents can bring screenshots or other proof of cyberbullying to school administrators, who can then investigate using their existing bullying policies.

“You can read the bill upside down and backwards; there is not one word about handing over a password,” Fine told HuffPost.

In fact, a bill that took effect in Illinois Jan. 1, 2014, made it was unlawful for a school to request or require a student or parent to provide the school with social media passwords.

“I think there’s some misinformation about [the new bill], because that’s been on the books for over a year,” Brian Schwartz, general counsel for the Illinois Principals Association, told HuffPost.

Last year’s password bill says that the unlawfulness of requesting passwords does not apply when a school “has reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that the student has violated a school disciplinary rule or policy.”

But this is not a broad exception. A school could only request passwords if there is ample evidence of a school rule being violated — such as a football player drinking alcohol. Moreover, students weren’t required to provide the passwords — schools were simply allowed to request them under these circumstances.

“We’ve advised our members that it’s really something that should only be used in very dire circumstances, if ever,” Schwartz said.

In a press release obtained by HuffPost, the Triad School District clarified that it was not requiring students to hand over their passwords. Rather, it was notifying parents in case the rare circumstances arose. It noted that it had not yet had occasion to request a password.

“Certain media reports have taken the letter out of context and created an unnecessary controversy,” the press release states.

Martin Scorsese Documentary On Bill Clinton Is Put On Hold After Disagreement Over Control: Report

January 22, 2015 by  
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Martin Scorsese has tackled the mob, the Dalai Lama and the real-life Wolf of Wall Street.

But Mr. Scorsese appears to have met his match in Bill Clinton.


Instagram Admits They ‘Don’t Always Get It Right’ When It Comes To Nudity

January 21, 2015 by  
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Instagram just got a little bit safer for female body hair.

About three weeks ago, the photo-sharing platform disabled the account of the Australian online magazine Sticks and Stones after the company posted an image of two women in bathing suits sporting full-bush pubic hair. (Scroll down to see the photo.) On Jan. 21, after receiving criticism from media outlets and Instagram users, Instagram told The Huffington Post they “made a mistake” and have reactivated Sticks and Stones’ account.

Below is the photo that Instagram had initially removed in all its nether-hair glory. While the image shows a bit of pubic hair and perhaps the shadow of a nipple, it’s far from obscene:

sticks and stones

When The Huffington Post reached out to Instagram for comment, the social media platform admitted they had made a mistake.

“We try hard to find a good balance between allowing people to express themselves creatively and having policies in place to maintain a comfortable experience for our global and culturally diverse community,” an Instagram spokesperson said. “This is one reason why our guidelines put limitations on nudity, but we recognize that we don’t always get it right. In this case, we made a mistake and have since restored the account.”

Instagram’s user guidelines prohibit “violent, nude, partially nude, discriminatory, unlawful, infringing, hateful, pornographic or sexually suggestive photos.” While images like the one above and artist Petra Collins’ 2013 image of her unshaved bikini line are often flagged, other arguably more “suggestive” photos remain on the platform untouched. (See here, here and here.)

“From what I can gather I do feel as though men can get away with a lot more in terms of what Instagram deems to be of a sexual nature,” Sticks and Stones director Ainsley Hutchence told The Huffington Post.

Jessica Lewis, the model who originally found the photo, pointed out to Mic that Instagram doesn’t seem to censor men’s pubic hair, citing a recent Justin Bieber photo shoot as an example.

“Why is it inappropriate for women to show natural REAL pubic hair in images when we have Justin Bieber having his photoshopped in for his most current Calvin Klein campaign with Lara Stone?” Lewis told Mic. “If a male can be enhanced in post to look more masculine by way of pubic hair, why can’t a woman feel accepted in society to be feminine in showing hers?”

#FreeTheBush, #FreeTheNipple, hell, #FreeFemaleBodies. And it looks as though Instagram is beginning to agree.

Lawmakers Pay Tribute To Charlie Hebdo Victims By Holding Up Pencils During State Of The Union

January 21, 2015 by  
Filed under Videos

During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, lawmakers held up pencils as a tribute to the victims of the terror attacks at the offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

According to the AP, more than two dozen lawmakers from both sides of the aisle rose to applaud Obama when he said he stood united with the people of Paris after the terrorist attacks that left 20 people dead earlier this month.

Agence France-Presse tweeted a photo of the lawmakers paying tribute:

US lawmakers pay tribute to victims of the Paris attacks by holding up pencils during the State of the Union address pic.twitter.com/3xtDDAHb21

— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) January 21, 2015

See a video of lawmakers paying tribute to the Charlie Hebdo victims above.

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