- Created on 27 November 2013
Photo by News One
On Monday, 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke (pictured), who attends Faith Christian Academy in Central Florida, was faced with quite a dilemma.
School officials allegedly mandated that she restyle her natural hair or be expelled for a week. But, just one day after the bizarre request got national media attention, the edict was suddenly rescinded and Vanessa now gets to remain in school with her crowning glory as is, according to WKMG Local 6.
Vanessa has attended the private school for three years and had never experienced any bullying over her hairstyle until now. When Vanessa's mom, Sabrina Kent, approached school officials over her daughter being taunted by classmates because her hair was not straight, they thought it would be in her best interest to straighten it.
The tween, who loves the texture of her hair, talked to Local 6 about her choice of hairstyle. "It says that I'm unique," Vanessa said. "First of all, it's puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it's not straight. I don't fit in."
Kent told the news outlet that the school's threat of expulsion over her daughter's hair was not a solution to her daughter being bullied. "There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they're blaming her," Kent laments. According to the miffed mom, school officials allegedly informed her that Vanessa's hair was a "distraction."
The academy does have a dress code in place which also loops in how students can wear their hair. "Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction," and the stipulations include, but are not limited to, mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
Despite the school's strict dress codes, Kent is standing firm that her daughter's hairstyle will not change. "I'm going to fight for my daughter," Kent said. "If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is."
Faith Christian Academy officials released a statement on Tuesday regarding the hair-raising issue:
"We're not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair. We're asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook."
Meanwhile, Vanessa and her mom will be lining up strategies over the Thanksgiving holiday just in case.
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- Created on 27 November 2013
Photo by Getty Images
The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as "exemplars" of how "personal vulnerabilities" can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority.
The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. "A previous SIGINT" -- or signals intelligence, the interception of communications -- "assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent," the document argues.
Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are "viewing sexually explicit material online" and "using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls."
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- Created on 26 November 2013
Supreme Court associate justices (L-R) Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan attend U.S. President Barack Obama's State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) | Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will take up the question of whether a for-profit company can refuse to cover contraception for its employees because of religious objections.
Dozens of companies have sued the Obama administration over a rule in the Affordable Care Act requiring most employers -- with the exception of churches and religious non-profits -- to cover the full range of contraceptives in their health insurance plans. The Supreme Court will hear the most high-profile case, filed by the Christian-owned craft supply chain Hobby Lobby, as well as Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius, a case filed by a Pennsylvania-based furniture company owned by a family of Mennonites. The cases will be heard together, likely in March 2014, with a decision expected in June.
Read the whole story here.
- Created on 26 November 2013
The high-stakes fight over implementing parts of the troubled health care reform law will move to the U.S. Supreme Court in coming months, in a dispute involving coverage for contraceptives and "religious liberty."
The justices agreed on Tuesday to review provisions in the Affordable Care Act requiring employers of a certain size to offer insurance coverage for birth control and other reproductive health services without a co-pay.
At issue is whether private companies and non-profits can refuse to do so on the claim it violates their religious beliefs.
Oral arguments will likely be held in March with a ruling by late June.
Nearly 100 pending lawsuits have been filed in federal court challenging the birth control coverage benefits in the "Obamacare" law championed by President Barack Obama, which has come in for fierce political criticism over its rocky public introduction.
The high court last year narrowly upheld the key funding provision of the health care law, a blockbuster ruling affirming that most Americans would be required to purchase insurance or pay a financial penalty -- the so-called "individual mandate."
The constitutional debate now shifts to the separate employer mandates and whether corporations and religious institutions themselves enjoy the same First Amendment rights as individuals.
Three federal appeals courts around the country have struck down the contraception coverage rule, while two other appeals courts have upheld it. That "circuit split" made a Supreme Court review more likely.
Among the plaintiffs is Hobby Lobby, Inc. a nationwide chain of about 500 for-profit arts and crafts stores.
David Green and his family are the owners and say their Christian beliefs clash with parts of the law's mandates for comprehensive coverage.
They say some of the drugs that would be provided prevent human embryos from being implanted in a woman's womb, which the Greens equate to abortion.
The privately held company does not object to funding other forms of contraception -- such as condoms and diaphragms -- for their roughly 13,000 employees, which Hobby Lobby says represent a variety of faiths.
Companies that refuse to provide the coverage could be fined up to $1.3 million daily.
Kyle Duncan, general counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead lawyer for Hobby Lobby, called the Supreme Court decision to hear the case a "major step" for the Greens and their business, and "an important fight for Americans' religious liberty."
The Obama administration has defended the law and federal officials say they have already created rules exempting certain nonprofits and religiously affiliated organizations from the contraceptives requirements. In those cases, women would receive coverage from another company at no cost.
The law's supporters say the law does not require individual company owners to personally provide coverage they might object, but instead places that responsibility on the corporate entity.
A key issue for the justices will be interpreting the 1993 federal law known as the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Can companies, churches, and universities be included, or do the protections apply only to "persons?"
The botched rollout of HealthCare.gov, the federal Obamacare website, has become a political flashpoint along with other issues that Republicans say proves the law is unworkable.