Category: fwnik

News story: The armed forces pay tribute to those who fought at the Battle of Amiens a century ago

first_imgThe Battle of Amiens was a major engagement in the First World War. The battle heralded the Hundred Days Offensive, a string of allied successes on the Western Front which led to the signing of the armistice on 11 November 1918.More than 19,000 allied soldiers were killed or injured in the 3 day battle as the First World War approached its final chapter.The commemorative event at Amiens Cathedral was attended by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter. The event featured a Guard of Honour by The Royal Anglian Regiment and music by The Central Band of the Royal Air Force. The commemorative event at Amiens Cathedral was attended by Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, the Prime Minister, Theresa May, Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster and Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter. MOD Crown Copyright.The milestone is the final major commemoration event before the centenary of Armistice Day in November. Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said: Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nick Carter said: It is an honour to be here on the anniversary of one of the most important battles in British history. This anniversary gives us a chance to reflect on the sacrifice and the achievements of British and Commonwealth troops and our allies who fought a century ago. The nations represented here today remain close allies, demonstrating that the legacy of our First World War partnerships continue in today’s armed forces.center_img The Battle of Amiens marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. It was a remarkable achievement over the course of the war to expand the military, moulding a new citizen-based force into a very accomplished fighting force, against a backdrop of rapid technological change. As I proudly stand in Amiens Cathedral, I shall be reflecting on the importance of allies and partners then and now, and the enduring requirement to experiment with new technology and tactics to determine how we can best employ it without waiting for the catalyst of war. But above all I shall reflect upon the fighting spirit and courage of those remarkable men and women who serve our country. The event held in France at Amiens Cathedral was organised by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and was held in partnership with allied governments. During the event, The Central Band of the Royal Air Force led a multinational band comprising musicians from the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, France, Canada and Germany.last_img read more

University Honor Code outlines academic disciplinary procedures

first_imgNotre Dame’s Undergraduate Student Academic Code of Honor Handbook has 9,213 words. It spans 25 pages.The document, to an extent, is a guiding force in determining the current fates of the five Irish football players who have been withheld from practice and competition this season.Mary McGraw | The Observer Irish junior cornerback KeiVarae Russell, senior receiver DaVaris Daniels, senior defensive end Ishaq Williams, graduate student linebacker Kendall Moore and senior safety Eilar Hardy have been held out of practice and competition during the probe into “suspected academic dishonesty.”Notre Dame announced its investigation Aug. 15. The University said “evidence that students had submitted papers and homework that had been written for them by others” was initially suspected at the end of the summer session and referred to the compliance office in athletics July 29. Notre Dame said the Office of General Counsel then initiated “an immediate investigation.”Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Thursday evening he expects hearings to be wrapped up within the next 24 hours.In an attempt to better understand the ongoing process that has spanned — at least publicly — nearly 50 days, The Observer has highlighted certain aspects of the Honor Code.In an attempt to understand some notably vague areas of the Honor Code, The Observer reached out to University President Fr. John Jenkins and the Rev. Hugh Page Jr., Co-Chair of the University Code of Honor Committee, but they each separately declined interview requests.Who?The University Code of Honor Committee consists of 12 members — six students and six faculty members. Of the students, there is one representative each from the Colleges of Business, Engineering and Science and two students from either the College of Arts and Letters or the School of Architecture. There is also one student Co-Chair member.Colleges or schools may set up Honesty Committees at either the departmental or college level, and students must constitute the majority of a given committee’s members. The chair of a department or dean of a college requests students to “participate in investigating and determining responsibility” in Honor Code cases by serving on Honesty Committees.The department chair or college dean bears the responsibility for “publicizing the names of committee members,” either by posting them in the offices or on web sites.Students or faculty members reporting potential violations are instructed to submit reports “to the Honesty Committee of the department or college offering the course [in which the potential violation occurred].”The Honor Code does not stipulate which Honesty Committee should hear case(s) regarding potential violations that may have occurred in multiple courses spanning different departments or colleges.According to Notre Dame’s website, Russell is in the Mendoza College of Business, while Daniels, Williams and Hardy are in the College of Arts and Letters. Moore, who is currently enrolled in graduate courses, graduated in May from the College of Arts and Letters.When?The Honor Code does not stipulate in what time frame students should be notified of “guilty” decisions.The Honor Code states, “if the committee decides a student is responsible for a major or minor offense and assigns a penalty, the chair of the Honesty Committee notifies the student in writing of the committee’s decision and of the penalty.”Students wishing to appeal decisions of major or minor offenses must do so within seven days of the notification of the decision.If the committee finds the evidence does not support a finding that a violation occurred, the chair of the committee notifies the student of the decision.“The notification should, if possible, be sent within one week of the hearing,” the Honor Code states.Tags: academic investigation, Code of Honor Committee, DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Honor Code, Ishaq Williams, KeiVarae Russell, Kendall Moorelast_img read more

Saint Mary’s changes excused absence policy for March for Life attendees

first_imgA policy change that took effect on Sep. 27 now allows College students who attend the March for Life, a peaceful demonstration that takes place in Washington D.C. in protest of the legalization of abortion in the Roe v. Wade case, to have excused absences.Approval for the policy change was due to a Saint Mary’s senior, Katherine Dunn, religious studies major and president of Belles for Life, and her proposal. In the past, Susan Vanek, associate dean for advising and director of first year studies at Saint Mary’s, has sent out an email to faculty asking them not to penalize students for missing class for the March for Life, Dunn said. However, this has not stopped students from being penalized. “Students have experienced penalties through judgment by professors, attendance markdowns or other sly penalties, especially STEM majors,” Dunn said. “Therefore, we found that it’s necessary to officially excuse absences for the trip.” Jana Zuniga, a studio art major in the class of 2016, along with other passionate students, formed a petition in the 2015–2016 school year in order to try to get the policy changed. This is a method that many other students have tried in the past, Zuniga said. The reason Zuniga wanted to try again, she said, was because of her friends who have not had the ability to attend the march. “I had some friends who were nursing majors and they always talked about wanting to be able to go,” Zuniga said. “They wouldn’t be able to go because they would be penalized academically because of their clinical schedules.”She clarified that this is not only an issue for nursing majors, but all students who have classes that have attendance expectations.“I thought that the policy should be changed because it could be a very simple but public display of Saint Mary’s advocating for such a huge issue of injustice in our society,” Zuniga said. “Saint Mary’s of all colleges should be encouraging their students to take a stand on this particular issue.” Notre Dame Right to Life president, Sarah Drumm, who is a senior computer science major, said she has always been confused by Saint Mary’s policy because of how supportive Notre Dame is. “The University, for as long as I can remember, has been incredibly willing to work with us to support the March for Life,” Drumm said. “Even with the large number of students that go, they provide excused absences for all of the Notre Dame students.”Notre Dame provides excused absence request forms for students to fill out and turn in to the Office of Community Standards. According to Drumm, the office sets up specific times students can come to make the process even smoother. Drumm describes it as a “painless process.” “We always tell students at the March for Life information meeting that attending won’t be an issue academically, except if they go to Saint Mary’s,” she said. “I’ve never had a clear understanding of their policy or why they do what they do. That always felt a little unsettling to me.”This policy has been a frustrating topic of discussion among students for years, Dunn said. She feels the College, as a Catholic institution, should support students standing up for their Catholic beliefs. “I felt like I was always fighting administration,” she said. “In the past, we know Notre Dame students were granted excused absences and it’s an important enough event that we thought we should get excused absences as well.”Dunn said there was word of another petition going around both last school year and this school year, but she did not want to take that approach due to the failure of past petitions. “I’ve witnessed petitions go through to try to get excused absences, but none of those have ever worked,” Dunn said. “I knew we needed to approach this a different way.”Instead, Dunn put together a proposal for why she thought Saint Mary’s has an obligation to permit excused absences for students to attend the March for Life. Dunn began by bringing her proposal to Vanek who, according to Dunn, thanked her for bringing the proposal early in the school year, which was something students in the past had not done. Previously, Dunn said, students would present petitions closer to when they would go to the March for Life in January. Vanek then passed her proposal on to the Academic Standards Committee. According to the Saint Mary’s website, the committee meets to determine education policies and regulations. It consists of the dean of faculty, the senior academic advisor, the associate dean for advising, the vice president for enrollment management, the vice president for student affairs, six faculty members and two students. Dunn’s proposal ended up being a three page document filled with reasons for why students should be able to have excused absences. “I wrote it on behalf of all pro-life Saint Mary’s students and alumnae,” she said. “They provide monetary support for us, and it wouldn’t be possible without them.”One of the main points Dunn touched on was the fact that the College is focusing on the core value of justice this year. Saint Mary’s has four core values: learning, community, faith and justice. Each school year, Saint Mary’s focuses on a different core value so that students are able to have a significant experience with each one, Dunn said.“We advocate social action and practice principles of justice and compassion,” Dunn said. “The value of justice challenges us to reaffirm our commitment to overcome prejudice and change systems that oppress. Justice also challenges the College to continue to develop programs which affirm human dignity in the workplace. It invites us to make an active commitment to diversity.”Dunn said there is no better way for Saint Mary’s to support this core value than to outwardly support students who want to participate in an event centered on social justice. Last year, over 100 students from Saint Mary’s attended the March for Life with approximately 600 Notre Dame students; that is 7 percent of the College attending the march without excused absences. President Jan Cervelli attended the march as well, which is something the Saint Mary’s president has not done in the past. “I extended another invitation for her this year as well,” Dunn said. “We loved having the support of our president with us on the March.” This year, Belles for Life is working more with Notre Dame Right to Life in an effort to bring a record number to students on the March. “The fact that absences will be excused on [Jan. 19] is a huge factor in getting more women to go on the trip,” Dunn said. “We want to bring a record number of students to the March in D.C., and we think we can do it.”Dunn announced the policy change at a Belles for Life meeting the day she found out. She said the member’s reactions were priceless. “Everyone was ecstatic and surprised,” she said. “I honestly didn’t think it was going to happen. Mother Mary is watching out for us — I don’t know why was I worried.”Zuniga said she was filled with pride for her alma mater when Dunn told her the news. “I was extremely proud of Katherine because I read her proposal and thought it was exceptional,” she said. “It was so well stated and articulate and I was very proud of seeing a change that took a lot of years of fighting for to actually happened. I am very excited and relieved for students.” Attending the March for Life is what inspired Zuniga to be a pro-life activist. Her passion has led her to her current job as a counselor at First Way, a pregnancy support center in Arizona.“I made the decision to become a more serious pro-life advocate after attending the March for Life my first year with Notre Dame,” Zuniga said. “That trip is what propelled me to what turned into 4 years of fighting for the pro-life movement and growing my passion.”Drumm said Notre Dame students have been given a sense of comfort knowing they are able to have excused absences. “It definitely makes things a lot easier for students to be able to work with professors and for professor to be OK with students missing class,” Drumm said. “I’ve never heard anyone say I couldn’t go on the March because my professor couldn’t work with me.”Dunn said she hopes that from now on, Saint Mary’s students will be filled with the same sense of comfort when they make the decision to attend the March for Life.Zuniga said she hopes all Saint Mary’s students who want to attend do attend the March this year. “I know Saint Mary’s already has a great presence for how small our school is,” Zuniga said. “I hope more students can participate and witness how many Americans unite together on this day for an issue that people are refusing to give up on.” Tags: March for Life, petition, Protests, saint mary’slast_img read more

Zahm House has twice the amount of coronavirus infections of any other dorm, all residents will be required to undergo testing

first_imgIn an email to Zahm House residents, vice president for student affairs Erin Hoffmann Harding revealed the men’s residence hall has twice the amount of coronavirus infections of any other hall on campus. Residents will now be required to get surveillance tested by the end of the business day Friday. If not, students cannot attend Saturday’s football game.“I, other University leaders and your rector, Fr. Bill [Dailey], are all deeply concerned for your individual health and the health of our broader community,” she wrote. “Because of the increased number of cases in [Zahm], all eligible Zahm residents have received instructions for University surveillance testing over the past week.”Hoffmann Harding said those who have already tested positive or are in quarantine will be exempt from the mandated testing. While it is important for those who have been selected for testing normally to comply, she said it is especially important for Zahm House members in order to contain transmission.Residence hall members who have not already been tested will be scheduled at the testing center at Notre Dame Stadium on Friday during the morning or early evening time slots.According to the email, those who do not complete testing will be unable to attend the football game, and may also be “referred to the University’s conduct process.”Tags: coronavirus, surveillance testing, Zahm Houselast_img read more

Nix Ticks

first_imgIf you develop a rash or unexplained flu-like symptoms, Hinkle said, tell your doctor about any recent tick exposure. In general, she said, ticks have to be attached to their host for at least 24 hours to transmit disease. “Tick checks” are the most effective means of protecting yourself and your pets from tick-borne diseases, she said.Check your poochie, too“Check your pets daily for ticks,” she said. “Run your fingers through their coat and remove any ticks before they start feeding.” Be sure to treat pets. Dogs and cats can catch deadly diseases from ticks. Ask a veterinarian for an appropriate treatment to repel these pests.Use tweezers to remove ticks that are attached to skin. Pinch the tick close to the mouthparts to remove as much as possible. If the tick head is left behind, don’t worry. “There is nothing magic about the head,” Hinkle said. “It is like having a thorn in your skin. Your body will expel it over time.”Use tape on seed ticksUse tape to remove seed ticks, which are baby ticks about the size of a freckle that cluster together after birth.“If you get attacked by seed ticks, there will be so many of them it will be horrifying,” said Hinkle, speaking from experience. “Take a piece of tape and press it against the ticks and rip them off. Tape is a quick way to get a lot of ticks off. It removes them effectively and traps them so they can’t attack you again.”Ticks must be removed manually. There is nothing to pour on ticks to remove them and showers will not get them off. The raised red bite from a tick includes highly-allergenic salivary agents that may itch for weeks. “Your body considers this a strong allergen, and it takes a long time for the blood components to break down the feeding tube the tick created under your skin,” Hinkle said. Ticks live where hosts liveYou’ll likely find ticks in areas where their favorite hosts, such as rabbits and mice, inhabit. You can find them all year long in places with thick vegetation, with lots of underbrush, or in overgrown fields or wooded areas. Ticks are most prevalent March through September. Deer ticks survive through the winter. “There is not a month of the year where we don’t have ticks in Georgia,” Hinkle said. To keep ticks off, treat your skin and your clothes with DEET, the chemical found in most insect repellants. She also suggests treating clothing with permanone products.“Ticks don’t fly, jump, leap or climb very high so they are seldom found high above ground,” she said. “They hang on low-growing vegetation, stick out their hook-like claws and when we walk by, they latch on and climb upward.” Because ticks don’t fall from trees, they tend to climb from ankle-height. She recommends treating socks and pant legs up to the knee with Permanone products that contain permethrin. Treat yourself and your clothesHowever, hunters should treat their entire outfit since they will likely be out all day. Permethrin will penetrate clothing and last through half a dozen washings. Permethrin products also kill and repel mosquitoes and fleas. “It is a double whammy, and is very effective,” she said. For added protection, hikers, hunters and blackberry pickers might want to tuck their pant cuffs into their socks. “That keeps ticks on the treated surface and off our skin,” she said. Spending time camping, hiking or hunting can be fun and relaxing. Just make sure you don’t get hooked up with a blood-sucking travel partner, says a University of Georgia expert. “Most people are naturally repulsed by the idea of something sucking their blood,” said Nancy Hinkle, an entomologist with the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “But, ticks do transmit diseases, too.” Diseases uncommon in the Peach StateWhile tick-borne diseases are uncommon in Georgia, a few cases of Rocky Mountain spotted fever have been reported over the past few years. Lone star ticks and black-legged ticks both can carry human ehrlichiosis, a family of sometimes deadly diseases with a range of flu-like symptoms.last_img read more

Duck hunters may face risk of avian flu infections

first_imgJul 28, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Researchers who studied Iowa duck hunters and wildlife workers have reported the first laboratory evidence of transmission of an avian influenza virus from wild birds to humans, though not the deadly H5N1 strain.The researchers report that blood tests of a duck hunter and two wildlife workers revealed evidence of past infection with a lesser known-strain of avian flu virus, influenza A/H11N9. The three men had handled many wild birds in their hunting and work activities.”Although the sample size of our study was relatively small, our results suggest that handling wild waterfowl, especially ducks, is a risk factor for direct transmission of avian influenza virus to humans,” says their report in the August issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases.Most human cases of H5N1 avian flu infection reported over the past 3 years have been associated with exposure to sick domestic birds, although several cases of human-to-human transmission have been recorded, most recently in a family case cluster in Indonesia in May. Wild waterfowl often carry influenza viruses, usually without looking sick.The researchers conducted what they believe to be the first documented search for avian flu viruses in waterfowl hunters. The team included scientists from the University of Iowa in Iowa City and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in St. Louis, with James S. Gill of the University of Iowa as first author.The study group consisted of 39 men who hunted ducks at a southeastern Iowa wildlife refuge in October 2004 and 68 employees of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR), many of whom were duck hunters or had captured and banded wild ducks and geese in their work. Overall, they had handled wild birds an average of about 20 years.Flu viruses were widespread among ducks at the time of the study, with 60% of a sample of mallards testing positive, the report says.The researchers took blood samples from all the volunteers and used microneutralization assay to test the serum for avian influenza A subtypes H1 through H12. In addition, hemagglutination inhibition was used to test the hunter serum samples for subtype H11.The microneutralization assay showed that one 39-year-old hunter and two male DNR workers, aged 52 and 53, had antibodies to an H11N9 virus. None of the three men had received flu shots in the preceding 3 years.The hunter tested negative for all the other virus subtypes in the study, but serum from the two DNR workers reacted to an H2N2 avian flu virus, the report says. The latter finding, the authors say, probably means that the two men were naturally infected with the human H2N2 virus, which was derived from birds and circulated from 1957 to 1967.All three men had more than 25 years of duck-hunting experience, and one of the DNR workers had participated for several years in duck-banding projects. They did not wear gloves, masks, or eye protection when handling birds. The researchers did not try to find out if the men had experienced any illness related to their contact with wild birds.”In our study, a less common hemagglutinin subtype (H11) has apparently caused serologically detectable infections in high-exposure groups, whereas the more common hemagglutninin subtypes H4 and H6 in wild ducks have not,” the authors write. Possible reasons, they say, are that H11 viruses may be more able to infect humans or may induce a relatively strong immune response, or that the available serologic tests are more sensitive to H11 than to other strains.The researchers say their findings are consistent with a 1991 study in which 40 volunteers were inoculated with the avian virus subtypes H4N8, H6N1, and H10N7. Eleven of the volunteers experienced a mild illness, but they produced no detectable antibodies, probably because the viruses did not multiply enough to generate much of an immune response, according to the abstract of the study.The authors of the Iowa study write that their findings, in combination with the 1991 study, suggest that people may contract flu viruses from wild birds more often than serologic testing suggests.”The relative lack of antibody response in our study population, who had substantial exposures to waterfowl with influenza A infections, and in inoculated volunteers from Beare and Webster [the 1991 study] suggests that avian influenza infections in humans exposed to wild waterfowl may occur more commonly than we are able to detect with current methods,” they write.Gill JS, Webby R, Gilchrist MJR, et al. Avian influenza among waterfowl hunters and wildlife professionals. Emerg Infect Dis 2006;12(8) [Full text]See also:Beare AS, Webster RG. Replication of avian influenza viruses in humans. Arch Virol 1991;119(1-2):37-42 [PubMed abstract]last_img read more

‘Freedom of choice could lead to bad pension outcomes’: Dutch professor

first_imgPension funds’ participants are better served with a tailor-made pension plan than with increased freedom of choice for pension arrangements, according to Fieke van der Lecq, professor of pension markets at Amsterdam’s Free University (VU).Speaking during the annual congress of IPE’s sister publication Pensioen Pro, she argued that “if people knew what they wanted at all, freedom of choice could lead to a bad outcome”.The discussion related to the ongoing debate about the future of the Netherlands’ pension system.Van der Lecq said she always wondered what the purpose was of allowing individuals a choice of pension arrangement. “Would it be the comfortable feeling that there is something to choose from, or is it about ending up with arrangements that match your needs?” she said. In the latter case, Van der Lecq argued that “tailor-made” pension plans would be preferable. In her opinion, the danger of people making wrong choices was likely to make them worse off than under the current Dutch pension system.Joep Sonnemans, professor of behavioural economics at Amsterdam University (UvA), emphasised that real tailor-made solutions should also take people’s preferences into account, in addition to objective criteria such as age, accrual capital, and property ownership.However, he said this would be very difficult to measure. “People’s answers differ if you put the question in a different way, as people often don’t know what they want themselves,” he said.Sonnemans said that this would also likely be the case for questions about participants’ need for certainty regarding outcomes.He cited a survey at the occupational scheme for medical consultants, which suggested that younger participants in particular sought much more certainty than expected.“They would rather receive lower benefits with little chance of rights discounts than a considerable upward potential combined with a bigger change of cuts,” Sonnemans said.The impact of robotsAlso during the congress, futurist Richard van Hooijdonk predicted that robots would make many jobs in the pensions sector redundant.He said that work with a predictive and repetititive nature would be taken over by robots, and suggested that up to 80% of current jobs could disappear within 20 years.Van Hooijdonk predicted that technology would make half of all current processes and related jobs around benefits payments superfluous.He further emphasised that technology would considerably reduce the costs of pensions.last_img read more

Pensions at cigar-maker scheme boosted by 17% following merger

first_imgA further 3% was added to the pension rights immediately after the merger and another 3% rise is to follow in 2018.The pension fund’s supervisory board (RvT) said that the scheme had refrained from putting part of the surplus into a separate fund, as this was deemed at odds with a balanced approach to all participants.In the RvT’s opinion, the 2,500 participants of Sigarenindustrie were better off at BPL Pensioen on balance, despite its substantially lower funding.It said that the advantage of the increased pension rights as well as the better pension arrangements at BPL Pensioen far outweighed any possible future drawbacks.Last year, Sigarenindustrie charged a 19% contribution rate for an annual accrual of 1.75%, while BPL Pensioen’s contribution rate was 21.7% for an annual accrual of 1.875%.Costs per participant at the cigar scheme were €427, against €111 at BPL. Combined asset management and transaction costs were 0.71% and 0.40% for the two schemes, respectively.Sigarenindustrie had contracted out both its administration and asset management to Achmea. BPL has only outsourced its asset management to Achmea. TKP Pensioen carries out its administration.Sigarenindustrie is expected to liquidate in September. Members of the Dutch pension scheme for the cigar-making industry (Sigarenindustrie) are to receive a 17% increase in pension rights following a merger with the agriculture sector scheme.The rise was due to the differing coverage ratios of the two schemes, according to Sigarenindustrie’s annual report.The €211m Sigarenindustrie scheme was 114% funded at the end of 2016, when the funds merged, while the €16.4bn BPL Pensioen was 97% funded.To avoid negative tax consequences, the increase came in a three-stage process, with an 11% rise at the time of the merger – the maximum allowed for indexation in arrears.last_img read more

Video: AIDAnova’s 2nd FERU Leaves Rostock

first_imgImage Courtesy: AIDA CruisesOn December 2, the second and last engine room module for AIDAnova – AIDA Cruises’ new ship – began its journey from the shipyard Neptun Werft in Rostock Warnemünde to the yard Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany. On its way to Papenburg, the section was towed through the Kiel Canal.The second floating part, a so-called floating engine room unit (FERU), is 120 meters long and 42 meters wide. The four-deck-tall component contains three LNG tanks for AIDAnova. Two of the tanks have a length of 35 meters, a diameter of eight meters and a volume capacity of 1,550 cubic meters each.The third and smaller tank has a diameter of five meters, a length of 28 meters and a volume capacity of 520 cubic meters.In September this year, the first FERU was floated out at Neptun Werft and transported to Papenburg where the ship is being built.AIDAnova will be the world’s first cruise ship that – thanks to four dual-fuel engines – can be operated both in port and at sea with the currently most environmentally friendly and lowest-emission fossil fuel, according to the company.On December 2, 2018, the 180,000 gross ton newbuilding is scheduled to start its first season as it leaves Hamburg and sets sail for the Canary Islands.AIDAnova’s twin ship, with over 180,000 gross tons and 2,600 staterooms, is set to be commissioned in the spring of 2021.Video Courtesy: Unimedienlast_img read more

Same-sex parenting and emotional harm: critiquing the critics

first_imgMercatorNet 7 April 2015When a British science journal published an American study in January showing that emotional problems are more than twice as prevalent for children with same-sex parents than for children with opposite-sex parents, nobody expected the author, or the journal editors, to escape criticism. The “consensus” within the social science establishment is that the kids being raised by same-sex couples are doing fine, and will do even better if these parents are allowed to marry. Any researcher who finds anything different must be wrong, incompetent and homophobic.What is a little surprising is that scholarly associations would criticise their peer, Paul Sullins, for not doing things which he patently did do in his study, and for benefiting from an allegedly slipshod peer review process that, in fact, is far more rigorous and open than anything their own favourite studies have been subjected to. Such is the quality of briefs submitted by the American Psychological Association and the American Sociological Association to the US Supreme Court last month in support of a ruling in favour of same-sex marriage.Sulllins, an associate professor of sociology at the Catholic University of America, has replied in detail to these misrepresentations in a brief to SCOTUS jointly submitted with fellow sociologists Loren Marks, of Louisiana State University, and Mark Regnerus, of the University of Texas at Austin, and two organisations – the American College of Paediatricians and Family Watch International.Regnerus was the first to feel the full wrath of the gay marriage movement with the publication of his landmark New Family Structures Study in 2012 and its finding that the adult children of women who had had same-sex relationships did significantly worse on many measures than the children of married heterosexual couples.The main scientific pretext for dismissing Regnerus’ study was that he compared the most stable form of family with lesbian or mixed orientation households that happened to be particularly unstable. The APA and ASA has lazily levelled this charge at Sullins as well – ignoring the fact that most studies alleging to show “no differences” between children raised in heterosexual and same-sex families have not accounted for this variable either.Testing the instability thesisIn fact, Sullins did control for family instability in Emotional Problems among Children with Same-sex Parents: Difference by Definition — in two ways.First, he used as a proxy for stability whether a household was in its own home or in rented accommodation, since there is abundant research showing that home-owning families are much more relationally stable than renters. At the same time he controlled for the effects of income and education on the type of housing.Sure enough, home ownership had a strong effect on emotional problems across the board (“children of families in rented quarters are 31 percent more likely to experience emotional problems than children of homeowner families”). But it accounted for only 3 percent of the difference in risk of emotional problems between opposite-sex and same-sex families. Children in stable same-sex families are still about twice as likely to suffer serious emotional problems as are children in stable opposite-sex families.Second, Sullins compared same-sex families with only opposite-sex step-parent or “blended” families to test the effect of past family breakdown. In other words, he compared his whole sample of same-sex families with the least stable of heterosexual families in his data, conceding as much ground as possible to the thesis that instability is the only or main reason that children in the former seem to be at a disadvantage. Incomprehensibly, says Sullins, the APA calls this a “methodological flaw”.“Perhaps it has to do with the outcome,” he adds, because the comparison reduced the overall risk of child emotional problems due to same-sex parents by only 13 percent, from a risk of 2.4 to a risk of 2.2. Far from explaining the difference away, the effects of prior divorce or family dissolution accounted for only a small part of the substantially higher risk of emotional problems faced by children with same-sex parents.Stigma, bullying, and unexpected harmAh, but there’s the stigma these children have to contend with, says the “no difference” school. Take away the bullying and you have well-adjusted children. Sullins tested that and found that children with same-sex parents did not experience more bullying than did their counterparts with opposite sex parents – except those in the former group who had ADHD. In other words, the bullying was associated with ADHD rather than the kind of parents these child had.It is important to note that these findings are based on more data than any previous study — 512 children with same-sex parents drawn from the US National Health Interview Survey. It is one of only eight studies on this subject in the past two decades that have used a random sample large enough to provide any reliable evidence on the question of child wellbeing in same-sex families.What is more, the findings of the Emotional Harms study have been confirmed by another of Sullins’ studies based on data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). As yet unpublished, “The Unexpected Harm of Same-Sex Marriage…”, compared two groups of same-sex parents, one unmarried, often following a prior heterosexual relationship, in which children had lived with their current parents for an average of four years; the other married, in which children had lived with their current parents an average of over 10 years.Contrary to what is claimed by same-sex marriage advocates, child outcomes were consistently worse in the second group, the one with married parents and longer stability.In one of its potshots at Sullins the APA has pointed to some coding errors in the NHIS survey that placed some opposite sex couples in with same-sex couples. But, as he points out, such contamination of data would make it more difficult to show differences between the two family types, and lead to an understatement of children’s emotional problems in same-sex households.Surprisingly, Sullins told MercatorNet, neither the APA nor the ASA briefs “contains a word of substantive critique of the study’s central finding, that child emotional harm is 2-4 times higher with same-sex parents than with opposite-sex parents. There is some critique of the explanatory variables, but no attempt to rebut the findings themselves.”When all else fails, attack the journalHowever, they do resort to a now familiar strategy: attacking the journals in which his work has been published and the peer review process.For the two studies relevant to this article, the publishers are: the British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research (“Child Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and  in Same-Sex Parent Families in the United States: Prevalence and Comorbidities,” 2015); and the British Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science (“Emotional Problems among Children with Same-sex Parents: Difference by Definition,” 2015).The APA complains that “none of the journals in which Sullins’s papers were published are indexed in major social science databases.”Sullins points out that, after the attacks on Mark Regnerus, his editors and reviewers after publication of the NFSS study in a sociological journal, he decided to pursue publication of his studies, based on a large public health survey, in international hard science medical journals, “where the standards of evidence are generally more rigorous, but the imposition of groupthink orthodoxy is much less, than in American social science journals.”These journals are found in medical indexes. They are also abstracted by all the major scholarly services, making them available to researchers, says Sullins, adding that the publisher of his studies is a member in good standing of the official certifying agency for such journals, the Directory of Open Access Journals.If only the APA had a review process as rigorousBoth APA and ASA allege that the peer review for Sullins’ articles was substandard. However, he shows that the time involved was not short compared, for example, to the practice of leading medical journals (BMJ and JAMA). Indeed, it was longer than the 13 days it took for one of the iconic “no difference” studies (Jennifer L. Wainwright & Charlotte J Patterson, “Peer relations among adolescents with female same-sex parents”) to be accepted by the journal Developmental Psychology.Nor did the process lack rigour, as alleged by APA. For Sullins’ central study on child emotional problems, the editor sent it to four instead of the usual two reviewers and appointed two independent editors to approve publication. Approval was given only after two rounds of review and response instead of one. And one reviewer presented Sullins with an extensively revised draft. “This high level of scrutiny is very rare in American social science journals, to say the least,” Sullins notes.Most tellingly he points out that the peer review history for his article is available online – itself a sign of peer review quality, and one not found among his critics:“No APA journal practices this level of transparency. It is not possible to examine the peer review history for any articles in the ASA/APA roster of harm denial. Not a single on has dared to publish its peer review history.”And if more credentials are needed, try this: the publisher of Sullins’ articles was ranked among the top 7 percent of journals worldwide for peer review rigour in a recent independent assessment published by Science, the world’s premier scientific journal. The only American social science publisher involved in the assessment failed the test.In the end, all the baseless criticisms of Sullins’ studies, publishers and peer review – like those of Regnerus before him — have nothing to do with their scientific rigour, but with his findings, which do not conform to the ideology of harm denial. One can only agree with his conclusion: “Despite mounting evidence to the contrary, the APA and the ASA will doubtless continue to deny that any study has found evidence of harm to children with same-sex parents.”Two months ago when the Emotional Harms study was published, Michael Cook wrote that Sullins would have to “be ready to go all 15 rounds” in its defence. This round, on any objective assessment, must go to him.Carolyn Moynihan is deputy editor of MercatorNet.Paul Sullins research can be viewed on his author page at the  Social Science Research Network.http://www.mercatornet.com/articles/view/same-sex-parenting-and-emotional-harm-critiquing-the-critics/15929last_img read more