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There Are 472,000 Words in the Dictionary. for the Spelling Bee, That May Not Be Enough.
Seemingly unfazed by the stage lights and television cameras, one gifted adolescent after the next approached the microphone on Thursday night and without a hint of timidity correctly spelled daunting words like erysipelas and aiguillette.In the end, after 20 rounds had distilled a group of 562 competitive spellers to just eight, those who were left remained in a merciless logjam. Shortly after midnight, after the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee announced that it was running out of challenging words, each was crowned the winner in an eight-way tie.It turned out the winners had more in common than an aptitude for spelling: Six of them had relied on SpellPundit, a coaching company started last year by two former competitive spellers, the teenage siblings Shobha and Shourav Dasari of Spring, Tex., a Houston suburb.Even in a hypercompetitive age, when it is not uncommon for student athletes, musicians and scholars to spend hours each week honing their skills and rsums for college applications, the 562 spellers who competed this week in suburban Washington, D.C., are a dedicated and disciplined bunch.One of the octochamps, Sohum Sukhatankar, 13, of Dallas said he had spent about 30 hours a week studying the 120,000 words SpellPundit had culled from the 472,000 words in the dictionary.For an annual subscription of $600, SpellPundit offers the massive list, which is sorted by difficulty levels and guarantees that it includes all words used in the competitions. Business took off after last years champion, Karthik Nemmani gave a shout-out to the service.Of this years top 50 spellers, 38 were customers, according to Ms. Dasari, 18. One selling point, the siblings say, is that their comprehensive database of words and modules saves time. The Dasaris estimate that their service, which allows users to type the words instead of spelling them aloud, makes preparation four times faster.But yesterday, some wondered whether the service had taken some of the innocence out of the contest.If spelling is ever going to work again: do something about SpellPundit, wrote Jacob Williamson, a coach and former National Spelling Bee finalist, on his spelling blog, BeeNN. SpellPundit is an incredibly useful resource, and the problem is that its too useful.The difficulty of the contest, long dominated by Indian Americans, had already ratcheted up over the last several years, with ESPNs live broadcast bringing greater public attention to the contest and two other competitions, the North South Foundation spelling bee and the South Asian Spelling Bee, serving as proving grounds. And SpellPundit plus other coaching services has fundamentally changed the national contest, the co-champions and their parents said.Harder words, some observers said, may now be necessary. On Friday, the Spelling Bee officials said they were considering their options.We are so proud of the octochamps, said Paige Kimble, the executive director. We are inspired by their achievement. Among other things, they are going to inspire us to find ways to better challenge them in competition. Though many of the top spellers relied on the list they had purchased from SpellPundit, they still had to put in the study time, said Ms. Dasari, who recently graduated from high school and plans to attend Stanford in the fall.We give them the words, the spellers still have to learn them all, she said. But I think that availability of an organized word list definitely helps them.SpellPundit is among many test-prep tools for the spelling elite. As technology has shifted and the Bee has grown more prominent in recent decades ESPN has aired it since 1994 coaching has become a mainstay of the elite spelling circuit.Coaching sessions can run more than $200 an hour, and at least one firm requires its students to sign nondisclosure agreements, sealing off their word lists and curriculum materials from people who do not pay. Many of the coaches were once among the nations top spellers or parented them as sharing tips and tricks evolved from a word-of-mouth tradition into a lucrative practice.They would rely on these families who age out of the game to then share their materials and give them advice, said Shalini Shankar, a professor of anthropology at Northwestern University and the author of Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal About Generation Zs New Path to Success.I think the scale of it got so big that at some point, they just decided to monetize it, she continued.Linda Tarrant, one of the nations foremost spelling coaches, said her companys programs run at least eight weeks, with one hour of coaching each week by Skype or phone. But many students, she said, receive coaching for 18 months or longer.We teach vocabulary skills, said Ms. Tarrant, who leads Hexco, a Texas-based company, and coached her three children in spelling. We teach Latin and Greek elements. We teach rules for spelling words from different languages like Spanish and Japanese and Italian. The longer theyre in coaching, the more they get: They get down to Afrikaans, they get down to Polynesian.[We made a Spelling Bee quiz for you. Try your luck.]Still, some people fear that the financial costs associated with spelling bees travel expenses that can climb into the thousands of dollars and coaching bills that can run well into five figures may be changing the character of the competitions. At the same time, experts said, youth competitions are changing in more arenas than spelling.I see it as keeping with what is happening with a lot of other aspects of childrens lives, and these kinds of pay-to-play competitions are so common in chess, in science fair, said Dr. Shankar.Last year, the Bee added a twist: Students who had lost at the regional levels would be allowed to compete in the national contest if they paid $750, plus expenses. This year, the participation fee doubled to $1,500, and the group of 562 included more contestants who had paid than those who had arrived the traditional way.Even so, experts said they could not immediately recall any prolific spellers who had made it to the top ranks without some form of coaching, paid or not.In the history of this contest in its modern inception, somebody has to help the kid, Dr. Shankar said. It could be a teacher. It could be a parent or a paid individual or all three.But Dr. Shankar said that in her research, she found that students did not believe they were competing against themselves. In their minds, she said, it was them against the dictionary.Indeed, in the last rounds, the contestants said, they were all pulling for one another. When each of the eight spelled their final word correctly, they hugged and exchanged high fives.You could tell everyone was happy that everyone else had won, said Sohum, one of three from the Dallas area to win. The thing about the spelling community is everyone is friends with each other.Surveying the results on Friday, Dr. Shankar could only marvel at what had transpired in Maryland.They actually beat the dictionary, she said with a sense of wonder. Eight kids did.
Nick Jonas and Priyanka Chopra Marry with Hindu Ceremonies That Began in August
After a year of insatiable rumours and another four months of a whirlwind engagement, Quantico star Priyanka Chopra and singer Nick Jonas have officially been proclaimed husband and wife twice !The two paid homage to their respective backgrounds by including a Christian and Hindu wedding ceremony in their festivities which took place last weekend.They were first married in a Christian ceremony on Saturday, officiated by Jonas father, according to Vogue.A Hindu ceremony was held the next day in the historic sandstone Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, Rajasthan in Chopras home country of India, ending the week-long wedding festivities with aplomb.People will need vacations after this wedding, Chopra was quoted as saying in an last week. While she probably meant it as a joke, its a sentiment deeply related to by anyone, Indian or otherwise, who has had to plan an Indian wedding.Hindu weddings are known worldwide for their extremely colourful, elaborate ceremonies, filled to the brim with flower decorations, religious rites, social functions that can last over a week. Unlike a Christian ceremony which usually start and end on the same day, a Hindu wedding usually involves a series of pre-wedding rites designed to physically and emotionally prepare the bride and groom for their nuptials :The ceremony is generally the first to prelude any Hindu wedding and usually takes place months before the actual ceremony. Known as one of the most significant pre-wedding ceremonies, its considered as a stamp solidifying the bride and grooms commitment to the marriage. Unlike a traditional Christian ceremony which sometimes includes a question asking if there are any objections to the wedding on the day itself, there are no take backs after the !Chopra and Jonas announced their upcoming wedding with a ceremony in August.An important part for a girl in an Indian wedding is the Mehendi, wrote Chopra in an Instagram post. A rite that typically takes place a day or two before the wedding, the m ceremony is one of the most coveted by women within the wedding. Here, all of the women in the bride and grooms families, along with guests gather while the bride traditionally has elaborate, intricate henna designs applied to her feet and hands. Apart from its beauty, is known for its cooling properties and is thought to calm the bride before her ceremony. Sometimes, designers will hide the grooms initials within their designs on the brides hands for the groom to later search for.While the ceremony is traditionally women-only, most functions today also allow men to attend. Nick Jonas is pictured laughing with Chopra during her ceremony in an Instagram post, which she captioned, Once again we made it our own and it was an afternoon that kicked off the celebrations in the way we both dreamed.A Hindu wedding icebreaker ! Apart from the , the ceremony is generally one of the most fun ceremonies for guests and families alike. Here, the bride and groom, in separate locations are slathered with a thick paste of , i.e. turmeric powder, rose water and sandalwood powder, by their respective family members and guests. The powder is thought to strengthen and beautify the couple before the nuptials as well as ward off any evil that comes their way.While Chopra held a ceremony as per tradition, Jonas reportedly did not and instead participated in a ceremony afterwards, i.e., a ritual in which turbans are tied for the groom and other male relatives involved in the wedding.Open bar, make way ! The is an Indian weddings extravaganza, that can either be made as lavish as a Bollywood movie or instead modest and toned down. As a Hindu ceremony traditionally does not involve the exchange of rings, couples normally perform the rite during the , the last function to take place the night before the wedding day. As means song or sung together, its a night filled with music and dance and long-practiced performances by friends and relatives of the bride and groom.Chopra posted a sneak-peek of her and Jonas on Instagram. The post included a video of clips showcasing a spectacular event filled with stage lights, Nick Jonas flawlessly dancing in traditional Bollywood style with props, a performance by Joe Jonas and a mother-daughter dance by Chopra and her mother.As guests and relatives slowly wake up amidst the exhaustion and hangovers from the previous night, the bride is already out of bed, showered and in the middle of makeup and hair. , Priyanka Chopra donned a sari in red as according to Hindu custom while Nick was attired in a turban and traditional wear.The day traditionally begins with a ceremony in which the groom arrives on a horse, complete with a throng of friends and relatives dancing to festive drum beats. Reportedly Chopra joined Jonas during his festivities.While many Hindu weddings nowadays come with their own twists and variations, every wedding at its core will include a , a ritual conducted by sitting around a sacred fire and , which literally translates to seven steps, but in reality means completing seven rounds around the fire in order to become husband and wife.With the exchange of rings completed the night before, the groom instead places a necklace, known as a around the brides neck, officially wedding her to him.Chopra and Jonas reportedly maintained a strict no-pictures policy during their wedding which means us fans will have to wait longer before we can steal ideas from the couples fairytale palace wedding.
High on the Mountain
In the darkness, someone whispers, Here, here. Come here, theres space. My spouse Rom and I settle into the hard wooden chairs, in time to hear the musicians break into The Ventures Walk, Dont Run. Under the blazing stage lights, young men with distinct north-eastern features strum guitars casually. Rock gods normally strut the stage, fling their guitars and arms triumphantly, and dance with the tireless energy that only the chemically-high possess. But these youngsters from Shillong, led by Felix Langstieh, are keener to mimic the musical prowess of the rockers than their flamboyant stage presence. Rock songs roll after country Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Pat Boone, Chuck Berry and the audience squeals, sings, and claps along. The energy in the auditorium is electric. Age is no bar everyone from the elderly to teenagers sway and snap fingers. And thus the Sixth Mussoorie Writers Mountain Festival warms the hearts of all seated in the Woodstock School auditorium.For two days we sit indoors, swaddled in pullovers, jackets, and scarves, cocooned from the cold Himalayan wind, celebrating the outdoors and icy peaks. Stories of mountaineers, who defy all earthly odds to drag their bodies across slippery ice to the pinnacle of the world, make me giddy. Freddie Wilkinson goes on a holiday to Alaska, decides to climb the 3000-metre Mooses Tooth on a lark, and succeeds. Daniele Nardi scrambles up the glacial walls of K2 with the agility of a crab, while Krzysztof Wielicki specialises in climbing mountains at their most inhospitable, in the dead of winter. Im enthralled by the quixotic folly of these men pitting their grit against the mighty mountains.The exploits of these unique specimens of the human race extract a terrible toll from their families, says Maria Coffey, bringing me tumbling down the slopes to the ground. While her boyfriend tries to summit Everest, she tries to live life as normally as a young woman could under the circumstances. But he and his climbing partner perish on the mountain, their corpses untraceable. Marias descriptions of her anguish constrict my throat.Despite the price mountains extract, Dawa Steven Sherpa offers his energy to them. Along with other sherpas, he systematically cleans the slopes of garbage. From being one of the filthiest mountains, the Everest looks whiter now. Building on the success of this enterprise, Dawa works to reverse climate change and promote better water use.Every evening, our taxi hurtles down or spews exhaust as it struggles up the narrow concrete hill roads. On one such trip, Daniele, who sits quietly next to the driver, comments, I should take a video of this and show my Italian friends. Itll show them you can drive without cursing and fighting. Thats true; no Mussoorie driver even silently gestures his disdain for anothers driving skills. They manoeuvre around inconsiderately parked cars and edge perilously off the road to allow a mini bus through. At the end of these crazy road trips, wine, dinner, and conviviality await.For most of one evening, veterinarian-photographer Dag Goering and I stand beside a fireplace at the Alters discussing how to solve conflicts between elephants and humans. His real concern is captive elephants, but hes also keen to do something for wild elephants. For part of the year, he and Maria live on a hippie island in Canada that grows a lot of weed and shuns electricity from the grid. The rest of the time, they run adventure tours in exotic remote locations.Its cloudy and colder than I expected. Im twice my girth with warm padding and still I shiver. Steve reminds, me The mountaineers were a lot colder than you are now. A sobering thought and my muscles momentarily stop jerking. I feel like a tropical plant displaced from the greenhouse among the other guests, who seem well-acclimatised, until Maria rubs her fingers exclaiming, Its cold. Steve had said this was the best time of year to be at Mussoorie and I wondered if Id survive the winter here. The mere thought makes my teeth chatter. Steve clarifies, Usually, we have sunny, warm days in November. This is unusual. Poetry is scheduled to be read under the iconic lyre tree thats also the schools emblem. The session moves indoors.Under a clear starry sky, I try to thaw my hands at a blazing brazier at Rokeby Manors rooftop. I cant find the right distance too close and the fire roasts my fingers; too far and digits turn to icicles. Ecologist Theophilus lives in a remote village near Munsyari, eastern Uttarakhand, where he bakes his own bread in a clay oven. Rom just got one built at home and I wonder if I can bake with my silicone bakeware. Theo says, Use tin pans, no? You just have to butter and flour them.But I dont want to buy a whole range of bakeware for the clay oven.In Delhi, you can buy aluminium pans lined with silicone. Maybe you can use those.Conversation turns to bread recipes, solar-powered refrigerators, and other homely subjects that bond two people who share a similar lifestyle in the boondocks.With 20 participants, the Mussoorie Writers Mountain Festival is small enough to get to know everyone. When we take leave, its bittersweet. I look forward to returning to the warmth of the plains but the time spent with new friends is much too brief.
Sex still Sells, and Australias Firefighter Calendars Prove It
In a small, comfortably crammed souvenir shop in one of downtown Manhattans municipal buildings on December 5, men and (mostly) women stood in a line that wound around display racks of baby-sized NYC Traffic Cop night glow safety jackets and DOE Christmas ornaments. They were either waiting to purchase a 2018 Fire Department of New York calendar or waiting to get theirs signed by seven of the firefighters featured in the calendar who were sitting, somewhat monumentally, in the corner.I see you found your favorite month! said a smiling photographer in a yellow jacket named Katy, snapping my picture with my newly signed calendar. Behind me, September waved his mother over from the cash register to get her calendar signed.The signing was no large, public event. Mostly city workers attended along with friends and family of the FDNY. Compared to events associated with the likes of South Florida and Australias calendars, the New York signing was modest. As a result, the citys calendar brings in humbler donations and funnels them into a single charity, the FDNY Foundation, which funds fire safety education, CPR training for teens, and equipment for the FDNY.When stacked up against the showmanship emphasized by these other regions calendars, its really no surprise that New Yorks fundraising dollars also pale. After all, sex sells, and some firefighter calendars are happy to capitalize.I always wanted to work out and play the part of a firefighter, said Al Lawrence, whos worked as a firefighter paramedic for Dazie Fire Rescue in South Florida for the past 17 years. This is his fifth year in the South Florida Firefighters Calendar, which he said requires a serious workout regimen and some dancing skills.You have to be in great shape, and the people will tell you, You dont look like your picture in the calendar, are you Photoshopped They want to see the real you, so you have to put the work in and the preparation to be what theyre looking for.They are the people who show up to the calendars various charity fundraising events, which raise money for charities like Heres Help, a drug rehabilitation program, and Baby Safe Haven. The largest of these events is Secretarys Day, when judges and fans select which firefighters get to appear in next years calendar.Tables range from $300 to $1,000 at the event, with more expensive tables located closer to the stage. Secretarys Day is huge, its like 1,000 women, said Lawrence. Women get the day off, bosses send them. As for aspiring calendar models role at the event, they pick a song, come on stage to that song, and do a dance, a skit, or something you cant just go out there and take your shirt off. Women scream and throw roses at the men, who gyrate and gleam in stage lights. Then, the audience votes.I believe, to date, weve made about $250,000 in donations to local charities here, said Lisette Rodriguez, director of development, marketing, and events for the calendar, which started in 1992. Funds come from the calendars sales and various events, including Secretarys Day, club events, and holiday appearances at the mall. Secretarys Day is kind of a party atmosphere, she explained, but its the most effective at helping us raise money for charities.You could compare this to the Kansas Firefighter Calendars annual judging event, which volunteer firefighter and Vice President of the Kansas Firefighters Alliance, Jay Maness, called a great big party, for lack of better terms, but the atmosphere is markedly different from the event in Miami.Well have food catered in, well have a bar, and well have judges that are local celebrities, news anchors, business leaders from the area, Maness described. The candidates will come out and do a bio about themselves on stage, [theyll] do a talent, a lot of them will dance around . . . give their background, and talk about their aspirations for the future. But unlike Secretarys Day, the best table costs $250, and though tickets cost $25, we will not turn anybody down until the fire marshal says were at capacity, Maness said.Also unlike Secretarys Day, the audience at Kansass judging event doesnt ultimately pick who gets to appear in the calendar. The calendars board of directors does all of whom are volunteers, along with the calendars photographer and they do it based more on the firefighters character than his impressive physique.If youve looked at other firefighter calendars from across the world, youll see a lot of sexual or provocative nature in them and thats something that we dont want because were a charitable organization from our roots, Maness said. The calendar heavily emphasizes both cancer and suicide prevention among firefighters, funding two, former firefighter speakers who travel the country to promote awareness of both issues, respectively. So we strive to promote health and fitness and arent necessarily trying to present firefighters in a way thats going to make money for us.The selection process is even more demure in New York, where, after getting their applications accepted, candidates show up to the Fire Museum in Manhattan and get their picture taken holding a card with your name and where you work on it, described Lieutenant Bill Lynch, November in 2018s calendar. Candidates pose for a forward-facing picture, two angled ones, and one embarrassing one where you had your back to the camera and had you flex your muscles. After that, they find out whether or not theyll make the cut.Meanwhile, Lawrence in South Florida works out frequently to present the image of a firefighter to the calendars fans all year round, and Australias calendar photo shoots look like a full on movie production, according to David Rogers, director of the Australian Firefighters Calendar.Australias internationally recognized firefighter calendar models recently returned from New York, where theyd made multiple television appearances, including on Steve Harveys talk show. Since its inception in 1993, the Australian calendars (there are now three, the classic Hot Firefighters calendar, the Animal Calendar think hot firefighters posing with koalasand the Puppy Calendar you get the gist) have raised around $2.3 million, with people buying in the US, UK, Germany, and countries throughout Asia.Were very selective of who we put in [the calendars] because its representative of Australian culture, explained Rogers, who noted that the product is monstrous overseas. The selection process for getting into the calendar involves a photo judging contest, where a panel of about 20 women see photographs of firefighters who would like to be featured and pick their favorites.[The women] come from our charity or corporate partners [and] battle it out. Rogers said the judges make comments like, What are you picking that guy for, hes bloody ugly, as they hold up ratings of 1, 3, 7, or 10. I didnt have enough pieces of paper to do more, he explained.The Australian Firefighters Calendar donates to charities like the Childrens Hospital Foundation, and because theyve gotten so popular outside of the country, they also offer funds to organizations abroad. We donate a dollar from every calendar to the California wildfire relief fund in the US, Rogers said. Well continue to do that because people [in the US] keep buying the calendar.Back in New York, Lieutenant Lynch wasnt sure how many people showed up for the mens calendar signing this year, but he said it was a very good turnout the line looped around inside the store and it went outside. At one point during the low-key event, Lynch noticed Maria Valenzuela, an emergency medical technician featured in the womens FDNY calendar, waiting in line. He good-naturedly announced that shed be available to sign anybodys womens calendars.Reflecting on his own shoot for the calendar, Lynch noted that sex appeal was never explicitly a part of the equation. In fact, at one point, my bunker pants because I wasnt wearing my uniform pants underneath [or] a belt, so they were a little loose they actually told me to tighten them up and pull them up a little bit to keep it classy, he said.In Australias calendars, that clearly wasnt a concern.
Health and Fitness for Life.
Anybody here dance six days a week?" I get a laugh whenever I ask this of the students at San Francisco Ballet School. As dancers progress in their training, the time spent dancing escalates with the demands of rehearsing and performing, which can add up to underperformance and fatigue over time. Although dancers differ in their individual responses to lengthy dance schedules and the decreased sunlight, dehumidified air, and hot stage lights of artificial environments, how they manage nourishment during intense dance periods will leave telltale signs. They need to know how to balance the right foods and fluids to look and perform their best. At the end of a dance class or a performance, are you wired or tired? Some dancers report an inability to eat during intense performance schedules. Are you refreshed when you wake up? Are your legs and back tired? Is your voice pitch getting lower as the week progresses? How are you sleeping? Some dancers say they find it difficult to sleep during times of intense training or mid-performance season. When fatigue sets in from long, sometimes tedious rehearsals, what you think you look like may not match the image you're making in the eye of the beholder; dancers onstage are very transparent to the audience. Those who do well and perform effectively pay attention to their physical needs. What can you do not just to survive but actually excel during a long rehearsal of performance run? First, let's look at fluids. Dehydration is a sneaky condition. Moving through the air often dries off perspiration from the skin. Remember the joke that female dancers effervesce and men perspire? All it takes is getting smacked once with flying sweat to know that dancers give off water, and lots of it. Studies on athletes show that a person can lose up to two liters an hour in an intense physical activity. Although humans are about 70 percent water, the body can compensate for less than one liter of fluid loss per hour at best. According to author and registered dietitian Laura Pawlak, a loss of as little as 2 percent of body fluid can imbalance a dancer's brain chemistry to the point of creating mental confusion and loss of coordination and balance. The brain absolutely needs fluid to function. So, start the day by drinking one full eight-ounce glass of water, since you haven't had a chance to drink any liquids all night. If you get up during the night, drink a little water on your trip up, too. Keep a water bottle with you during the day and drink a little at a time in frequent sips rather than trying to consume an over-abundance of fluid at one time. The accepted rule of thumb is to drink two quarts of water a day. And what about eating? Dancers should not confuse the concepts of endurance athletes' carbohydrate-loading with their own pre-performance nutrition needs. Endurance athletes use an entirely different type of muscle metabolism than dancers. Timing between eating and dancing and what you eat is critical for optimal performance. So, in the four hours before a performance, avoid foods that may cause adverse reactions: High salt content can cause fluid retention; high-fiber foods can cause feelings of over-fullness; foods such as beans and cabbage can produce gas. Since protein and fats are slow to leave the stomach and can create an acid stomach, they also fit in this category. Stick to foods like yogurt, wholegrain breads, pasta, and cereals within the four-hour parameter. Rapid recovery is an important job for any athlete, but it's even more important for dancers since they engage in one bout of exercise after another, such as taking class, rehearsing, and possibly even performing in the same day. Recovery drinks can help. Technically, a recovery drink should have water plus some electrolytes and about 8 percent carbohydrates. There are many products on the market, but what I recommend is a diluted electrolyte solution formulated to prevent dehydration in ill children. It comes in fruit flavors with a bit of simple carbohydrate, so it satisfies both electrolyte and carbohydrate replenishment. Dilute it in a ratio of three parts water to one part solution. For optimal sugar replenishment in the muscles, eat more substantial carbohydrates such as vegetables and pasta after performing. If you lose weight easily during a performance run, add an extra drink meal such as Ensure to get extra calories and nutrients during the day. If it's true that the details make the dancer, nutrition is one detail a dancer can't afford to miss. Suzanne Martin maintains a private practice in physical therapy and Pilates and is the lead physical therapist for Smuin Ballets/SF. She conducts nutrition seminars for the School of the San Francisco Ballet.
The Sexual Harassment Conversation Needs to Move to the next Level
Women are forcing a long-overdue reckoning on sexual harassment. The list of ousted executives and politicians keeps growing. The thousands of reports of sexual harassment on #MeToo keep coming. More women are emboldened to talk, and more are being heard. The risks for abusers particularly public figures are rising. We know the roots of this extraordinary moment; where the moment leads remains to be seen.The reckoning is part of the fierce reaction to Donald Trump's election victory in 2016. Trump won in spite of the ultimate "October surprise," when the "Access Hollywood" tape confirmed what more than a dozen women had alleged: Trump is a serial sexual predator, admitting on tape that, "when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. . . . Grab them by the p---y. You can do anything." A president is the nation's great teacher. Women were not about to allow him to teach that lesson. With the reckoning comes the public acknowledgment that sexual harassment of women is ubiquitous. Too often, women have learned to adjust to it. A recent Quinnipiac University poll reports that 60 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment, most frequently in the workplace. A public airing of abuses is needed to force a conversation about lines, degrees, decorum, but the focus must turn to changes in the structures and laws that might help change behavior if the reckoning is to have real and permanent impact.Thus far the reckoning has been fueled largely by the exposure of public figures. Because these stories drive headlines, the press is more likely to spend resources checking out claims that implicate the famous. To some degree, this is helpful: The culture won't change without cultural and political leaders in their agony and in their outrage leading the charge.Yet, as journalist Barbara Ehrenreich has noted, "our current sex harassment discussion is woefully class-skewed. Too much about actresses and not enough about hotel housekeepers." Sexual harassment is grounded in an imbalance of power, the heady sense that one can commit wrongful acts with impunity. Not surprisingly, it is most prevalent where the power imbalance is the most extreme. Ehrenreich cites Chicago's Unite Here Local 1, the hospitality union, which found that nearly 60 percent of hotel workers in the greater Chicago area reported being sexually harassed on the job. Too often the male guests feel free to get "handsy" or to appear with no clothes on. Waitresses also are constant targets. In most places, they are forced to work for a subminimum wage the federal rate is a paltry $2.13 per hour and tips. To get decent tips, they learn to put up with obnoxious abuse and worse. Similarly, in a letter paying tribute to the courage of the Hollywood actresses speaking up against producer Harvey Weinstein, the female farmworkers of the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, wrote, "We do not work under the bright stage lights or on the big screen. We work in the shadows of society in isolated fields and packinghouses that are out of sight . . . for most people in this country. . . . We share a common experience of being preyed upon by individuals who have the power to hire, fire, blacklist and otherwise threaten our economic, physical and emotional security. Like you, there are few positions available to us, and reporting any kind of harm or injustice committed against us doesn't seem like a viable option. Complaining about anything even sexual harassment seems unthinkable because too much is at risk, including the ability to feed our families and preserve our reputations." Changes in the law and in institutional structures can make a difference. If waitresses were paid a living wage, they would be better able to object to harassment from customers. Workers with unions have more ability to object. In Chicago, the City Council just passed an ordinance requiring hotel employers to provide hotel workers who work alone in rooms with a portable "panic button" to summon help from hotel security. It also requires hotels to make public their anti-sexual harassment policies, affords hotel workers the right to stop work and leave a room if they feel threatened and prohibits hotel employers from retaliating against hotel workers who report sexual harassment or assault. Congress can also show leadership by reforming itself. Recent House hearings shed light on the pervasive sexual harassment in what historically has been considered the congressional "boys club." Concerned staff aides even developed a "creep list" to warn newcomers about legislators to be wary of. Congress has a broken "dispute resolution system" that requires any complainant to undergo 30 days of mandatory counseling and 30 days of mediation before being able to file a suit. And sexual harassment settlements are paid for with taxpayer money. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) have introduced the ME TOO Congress Act, which requires that the names of offending members of Congress be released and that they be held personally financially responsible for their behavior. The legislation would also require mandatory training for all members of Congress and staff, provide interns and fellows the same protections as full-time staff, and end forced mediation and counseling.Much commentary is focused on whether Trump can be held accountable, whether Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) should resign or Bill Clinton be shunned. But these are merely exclamation points. What's needed are real structural and legal changes to support the victims and curb the predators. Read more from Katrina vanden Heuvel's archive or follow her on Twitter.
Amateur Dramatics Cast Golden Boy in New Light; RACING POST COMMENT.
AS BEFITS the season of nativity plays there came before the people a performance of angelic brilliance from Sam Waley-Cohen. The simple conviction on display in explaining why he pulled up Otage De Brion a circuit too early was as word perfect as could be wished for; amateur dramatics par excellence from racing's Corinthian golden boy. The problem for Sam was his audience, as indeed they would for nativity scenes, had suspended belief at what they were hearing. Could a baby born in a manger really be the son of God? Could what looked for all the world like Waley-Cohen disastrously miscounting the number of circuits actually be something altogether more innocent? As befits the season, no sooner had Sam accounted for the mishap by declaring that Otage De Brion had swallowed his tongue and had to be pulled up than he saw before him three wise men. Unfortunately for him they were masquerading as the racecourse stewards and they chose not to believe his Christmas tale. Indeed they punished him for taking the wrong course and, to make matters worse, could bring forth not even the briefest acknowledgement of the jockey's initial version of events. Later, and by this stage out of costume, Sam sort of confessed to overacting. He admitted that the performance looked bad and appeared to suggest that under the heat of the stage lights he had ad libbed when concerned that the director might stop him appearing in the same Christmas panto in which he starred last year. Happily for Sam, his misdemeanour carries a punishment to be served after the festive season. Less happily a previously supportive audience might reflect on an episode that has dulled the golden sheen of a character whose lead role in a racing drama has a few scenes left to run. Tony Smurthwaite
Install Led Stage Light in Kolkata
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