The banner, featuring a cartoon condom with a smiling face, reads: "I am Mr. Condom. Use me whenever you want to have sex. I will protect you from STDs, early pergnancy [sic], and unwanted pregnancy." Across the top of the banner are the words "I took the condom pledge," the slogan from which the non-profit organization responsible for the banner takes its name. And while the stated goal of the group, which recently conducted a fundraising campaign in partnership with the U.S. State Department for a project in Sierra Leone, is "normalizing condom use in youth populations around the globe," the photos shared by the group make clear that "youth" includes some very young children indeed.
The Condom Pledge organization is careful to utilize the word "youth" on its website (the word appears more than a dozen times) and avoid "child" and "children" altogether. However, a video produced for the Pledge and the group's Facebook page include images of young children holding signs, children such as these young girls and boys, clearly well below the target ages of sixteen to twenty-six:
While the U.S. State Department usually makes headlines for its role in negotiating political treaties and mediating military conflicts, the agency also plays a less visible role working to bring about social change throughout the world. One such effort is a program described in a recent blog post on State's website as "the Alumni Engagement and Innovation Fund (AEIF) 2.0, an initiative created in partnership by the U.S. Department of State and Rockethub, an online crowdfunding platform." Currently thirty-three AEIF projects are underway, run by alumni of the State Department's international exchange program. Projects range from providing business opportunities and training for low-income women in Nicaragua to training English teachers in Vietnam to eco-tourism in Bangledesh.
The Condom Pledge project has already reached its goal of raising $3,000 as part of the State Department-Rockethub partnership. The State Department blog article mentions the program just in passing as "turning The Condom Pledge into a nationwide initiative in Sierra Leone." The Condom Pledge organization, however, prominently features the State Department partnership and official seal on its website announcing the fundraising effort.
Amy Alkon, Los Angeles-based syndicated advice columnist (“Advice Goddess”) and author of Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck (St. Martin’s Griffin), is a friend of mine, so this is a plug, not a review. But even if this were a review because I didn’t know Amy, it would read like a plug anyway. Her previous manners book, I See Rude People (2009), got rave blurbs from Elmore Leonard and Harold Bloom. I’m not in the same league as either of those, but I can say without reservation that Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck is hilarious, consistently entertaining, and, above all, wise. It’s Emily Post as a beach read.
The Obama administration has worked diligently to shrink, underfund, and demoralize the military. Now, Politico reports, two Republican senators, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, are joining an effort led by New York senator Kirsten Gillibrand that goes beyond where even the Obama administration is willing to go in weakening the military.
Over the weekend, New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat who was just reelected, sat for a Sunday interview with CNN's Candy Crowley. They discussed the Petraeus affair, the looming fiscal cliff, and the clean-up after Hurricane Sandy.
But Menendez was not asked about the allegations he faces regarding his own sex scandal.
Adrienne Pine, an assistant professor of anthropology at American University (AU) in Washington, decided to bring her cold-stricken baby daughter, too sick for the daycare center, along with her to teach her opening class for the fall semester in "Sex, Gender, and Culture."
The calls for state Rep. Kerry Gauthier to quit politics grew louder Monday, as party leaders urged the first-term DFLer from Duluth to withdraw his bid for reelection following reports he had oral sex with a 17-year-old boy at a Duluth-area rest stop in July.
RECALL MAKES for strange bedfellows. Arnold Schwarzenegger has coupled onscreen with Sharon Stone. Arianna Huffington and Al Franken hit the sheets, John-and-Yoko-style, to report on the 1996 national conventions. Cruz Bustamante is in bed with the Indian gaming tribes that underwrite his campaign.
And then there's Mary Carey: adult entertainment performer and independent candidate for governor.
THERE WAS TRENT LOTT on one side, and now Rick Santorum on the other. Like bookends, they seem to frame the war with Iraq--each subject to an attack in which an offhand comment is taken by opponents for a steed and ridden to death with spurs. Some commentators (and many, many politicians) hoped that in the high seriousness of a nation at war this trend in public discourse would wither away. But it clearly hasn't. Welcome home, boys.
EACH YEAR, hundreds of thousands of women and children are trafficked into prostitution around the world, and join the millions of women and children already entrapped in prostitution by pimps and organized crime groups. Thankfully, this humanitarian catastrophe is finally attracting high-level attention in Washington.
At the end of 2002, former congressman John Miller--who is determined to defeat the traffickers--was appointed as director of the State Department's Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons.