Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin, Yahoo News

  • Parents’ group scolds TV shows for sexualizing young girls

    AP100928014545In a raft of prime-time TV shows, underage girls are depicted in a higher percentage of sexual situations than adult women, according to a new report by a watchdog group of parents.

    The study from the Parents Television Council focused on the 25 network TV shows that are most popular among children 12 to 17 years old, among them "The Office," "NCIS," "Two and a Half Men," "The Vampire Diaries," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," "Lost," "Family Guy," "House," "Glee," "American Dad" and "The Simpsons."

    Underage characters were sexualized at a higher rate than adult women characters in the shows, the study found, and the majority of the underage instances involved "suggestive dancing, erotic kissing, erotic touching and/or implied intercourse," while adult women were more often sexualized by comments and jokes from other characters. Parents Television Council spokeswoman Melissa Henson explains that the report aims to "bring pressure . . . on people who are responsible for creating entertainment products that sexualize young girls," while also hoping to "stigmatize" the practice. Past studies of the content of media productions haven't made much headway in achieving such goals, but the PTC is looking to use the study as the point of departure in "a national dialogue" on the issue.

    In that vein, the group's website features a video montage of shame to point out some sexual scenes it objects to, with many scenes from the episode of the Fox teen hit "Glee" featuring Britney Spears making the cut. (The PTC earlier slammed the show's stars for posing in a suggestive GQ spread.)

    Henson said in an interview with The Lookout that in more than 70 percent of instances where underage girls were sexualized in the 35 hours of television the group studied, the audience is expected to laugh.

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  • Bags from Gap’s ‘FEED USA’ campaign actually made in China

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    Gap's well-meaning anti-hunger charity campaign FEED USA has hit a bit of a messaging road bump.

    The FEED USA bags that are intended to raise money for the country's school lunch programs were made in China, not America, despite promotional materials that declared otherwise, according to a photo snapped by one eagle-eyed shopper, shown. The patriotic bags adorned with American flags are advertised with materials that proclaim they are "Made in USA," which you can see in these photos reportedly taken by Thomas Martin (flagged by the blog BrandChannel).

    [Rewind: Gap rejects new logo after unfavorable debut]

    Two of the five FEED USA bags listed on Gap's website are said to be "imported," but the bag shown in the photo above is described as made in the USA on the website. The bags cost between $19.50 to $39.50, and for each bag bought, $5 goes to school lunch programs.

    We'll update this post with comment from Gap's PR department once someone there gets back to us.

    UPDATE: Gap spokeswoman Renate Geerlings responded in an e-mail that the company regrets "any misunderstanding" that may have been caused. She said some of the bags in the "FEED USA" collection are made in America.

    "However, the FEED USA Denim Bucket bags are made in China, and should not have been connected to the made in the USA signs. We apologize for any inaccurate messaging."

    [Rewind: Gap offers 'skinny jeans' for toddlers]

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  • Photos of 180 women seized from accused killer’s LA home

    Los Angeles police have seized photos and images of 180 unidentified women from the home of accused serial killer Lonnie Franklin Jr, The Daily Beast reports. Some of the women appear to be unconscious or dead in the photos, and police fear they may all be Franklin's victims. The South L.A. mechanic and former garbage collector was arrested in July. Police will release the photos today in hopes that family members will identify the women.

  • FIRST LOOK: Justice Department sues BP

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan on track to begin in July, according to a White House review. (NYT)

    • Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson is in North Korea for four days. (CNN)

    • Today is sentencing day for "birther" Army doctor who refused to deploy. (AP)

    • Schwarzenegger backs plan to turn over failing schools to parents. (Washington Post)

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  • Rick Scott’s bold education plan draws bevy of critics

    AP101123152395Newly elected Florida Gov. Rick Scott is making waves with his proposal that all children should receive education vouchers that they can use to attend private, public or charter schools.

    "The parent should figure out where the dollars for that student are spent," the Republican Gov.-elect told the St. Petersburg Times. "So if the parents want to spend it on virtual school, then spend it on virtual school. If they want to spend it on, you know, whatever education system they believe in, whether it's this public school or that public school or this private school or that private school, that's what ought to happen."

    [Survey: Adults blame parents for education problems]

    The idea has previously won backing from the late Nobel-winning economist Milton Friedman and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush as a way to foster competition among schools and give parents more choice in their children's education. But there is one major hitch: The Florida Supreme Court has ruled private-school vouchers unconstitutional, concluding that they endanger the free public school system. And, it turns out, many in the education world agree, and not even only those connected to the teachers union (though for the record, a Florida teachers union spokesman called it a "terrible idea").

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  • More kids asking Santa for necessities this Christmas

    AP10120519080U.S. Postal Service workers who handle the millions of letters addressed to Santa say this year's batch contains more heartbreaking pleas from children for basic necessities like shoes and coats instead of new toys.

    More than 20 post offices log these wish lists and ask the public to respond with toys and letters in a program called "Operation Santa," USA Today's Donna Leinwand reports. This year, unemployed parents and their kids in New York and Chicago are asking for boots and clothing they can't afford.

    One 7-year-old wrote: "This year my moom don't have much money to spend on Christmas gifts so I'm writing to you. It would make us very happy if you and your elves would bring us toys and clothes."

    One in four American children are supported by food stamps, and enrollment in the program has skyrocketed.

    (Macy's Santa Claus photo: AP)

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  • Immigration advocates hope ‘Secure Communities’ docs will slow program

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    Immigration activists are hoping internal documents a federal judge has ordered the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release will shed light on why the Department of Homeland Security abruptly announced communities could no longer opt out of a controversial immigration enforcement program this fall.

    Washington state and several municipalities like Arlington, Virginia have said they want to opt out of ICE's "Secure Communities" deportation program, which scours local jails for fingerprints of illegal immigrants to deport. Critics of the program point out that about a quarter of those deported had no criminal records, since suspects are fingerprinted for minor infractions, thereby permitting ICE officials to initiate deportation proceedings against them. Detractors also say the program, which has deported 50,000 since its creation in 2008, hampers communication between immigrants and law enforcement, since immigrants fearful of deportation are unlikely to come forward as witnesses in more serious legal proceedings.

    At first, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano seemed sympathetic to these concerns, writing in a September letter (pdf) to Rep. Zoe Lofgren that localities could opt out of the program if they wished. In August, ICE released a document, no longer available on its website, that also suggested there was a way for communities to opt out.

    Then, on October 5, Napolitano said at a press conference that the program is mandatory for all, and will be implemented fully by 2013. So what happened?

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  • Watch the sun’s great explosions

    A solar filament that had been lurking atop the sun for a week finally exploded this month, the latest in a string of large solar explosions that NASA scientists say will peak in 2013. This explosion, seen below, released high-energy plasma into the solar system, but did not create auroras on Earth because it dispersed before reaching our atmosphere.

    NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captured the image sequence, which shows the filament exploding. In August, NASA scientists observed a 28-hour period of shock waves, solar flare explosions and solar "tsunamis" that rocked the sun. They've named the event "The Great Eruption."

    Scientists say the activity is a sign that the sun is "waking up" and heading for another "solar maximum" cycle in 2013, according to Space.com.

    [See also: Where, how astronomers could find alien life]

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  • Big support for repealing ‘Don’t Ask, don’t tell’

    We already knew this from earlier polling, but a new ABC/Washington Post poll confirms that an overwhelming majority of Americans think gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military. Nearly eight in ten Americans think "Don't ask, don't tell" should end.

    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Twitter today that the House will vote on a new stand-alone measure to repeal the law today. Sen. Harry Reid could then bring the bill to a vote next week.

  • FIRST LOOK: Glum outlook for Afghanistan war in two new reports

    Welcome to First Look, our daily roundup of early-bird news:

    • Two new reports paint a glum picture of U.S. success in Afghanistan. (NYT)

    • Feds bust an international child porn ring. (CNN)

    • The U.S. Air Force has censored the New York Times from its employees' computers. (WSJ)

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