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‘I'm not a distraction, far from it. Stop treating me as one,’ high school senior writes

A senior at Etowah High School wrote an essay about the message school dress codes deliver to young women. 

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Regular readers know I share Cherokee County student Madison Jones’ concerns over dress codes and the misplaced focus on how the behavior and appearance of girls impacts boys and their education.

Most recently, I wrote about a Texas elementary school that included a hallway quote attributed to a woman who ran a high-priced Manhattan escort service: “The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentleman.”

In the same week the story broke about the quote, another Texas school drew headlines for creating and showing a video on dress codes that featured only female students and used M.I.A.'s "Bad Girls” as its soundtrack. The video showcased the offense of girls wearing athletic shorts to school, zooming in on their legs to make the point.

In both cases, parents and students rose up and schools retreated, replacing the Mayflower Madam quote with one by teenage Nobel Prize-winner Malala Yousafzai and apologizing for the video.

Girls have been dress coded and pulled from class for showing their collarbones or wearing tank tops that reveal shoulders. 

The good news is more schools are heeding the voices of young women like Madison and adopting dress codes that affirm all students should be able to dress comfortably for school without fear of or actual unnecessary discipline or body shaming and that staff and students both should understand they’re responsible for managing their own personal "distractions" without regulating individual students' clothing/self-expression. 

With that, here is the piece by Madison:

By Madison Jones

I hate being a girl.

I hate being treated like a little hard work will break me. I hate being told I can’t do something because it’s for boys. I hate feeling like I’m less than, just because I’m female. 

There are many things that I can’t change, unfortunately. 

I can’t change the boys who catcall as they drive by in their cars. I can’t change how some people see me as “property” that needs to be “protected.” I can’t change that some of my anatomy is more prominent in some areas than others. I can’t change some people’s attitude. 

But there are some things that I can do. 

I have a voice and I know how to speak with it. I have a brain and I know how to think with it. And I have a heart, a heart I know how to listen to. And now it’s your turn. 

I’m tired of being told to cover my shoulders. I’m sick of being singled out because of what I wear. I can’t stand being called out, shamed for my body, and taught to change myself for someone else. 

I’m not a distraction, far from it. I’m a girl, a girl who gets up every morning, goes to school, works her tail off, goes home to work even more, and then goes to bed, sometimes at ungodly hours of the morning, over and over again so that someday I can put on that cap and gown and receive that little slip of paper that portends my future and be prepared for the next step in supporting myself and making a life. 

But how am I supposed to do that when I’m not allowed in class?

What’s distracting is being singled out, called to the front of the class and publicly humiliated because my shoulders are showing, or my shorts, measured against an index card, fall short.

Why am I punished for sitting silently and doing my work? Why should I be blamed for someone else’s inability to do their job? Why do you treat me like a rape victim, being told that I asked for it, that it’s what I deserved, that I should be ashamed for who I am? 

Why don’t you start teaching our boys to be respectful, instead of blaming the girl for being a “distraction”? 

This is what perpetuates rape culture and mistreatment of women. You play the blame game and place these ideas in young girls’ minds that they should give in to the ideas of men and give themselves, their minds, and their hearts up. 

I could understand being labeled a “distraction” if I were to come in to class in my underwear, or stand up on my desk and scream, but I don’t. The reason I’m a “distraction” is because I’m female. 

I hope that I have not offended, or come off as rude, but I can no longer stand by and be treated like nothing. I am a girl, and I deserve respect not labels. 

I thank you for taking your time to read this and I hope you will reconsider these outdated standards and help take the first step to curing our tainted society and views. 

4-year-old shot in apparent road rage incident; 2 arrested

Police arrested two people Wednesday accused of injuring a 4-year-old boy while shooting at an SUV filled with children during a road rage incident in Wichita, according to officials.

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Authorities responded to a report of shots fired just before 5 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of 10th and Topeka. The Wichita Eagle reported that the 911 caller told authorities they found the injured boy behind a McDonald’s restaurant.

Responding officers found a blue Chevrolet Tahoe that had been hit by two bullets, according to police. At the time of the shooting, the SUV had three adults inside between the ages of 23 and 26, along with six children under the age of 10, police said.

One of the children was the injured 4-year-old, who was shot in the side, officials said. He was taken to a hospital, where he was last listed in stable condition.

Investigators determined that the shooting was the result of a road rage incident involving the Tahoe and a Ford Mustang. Police said the incident started near 29th and Broadway. At 13th and Broadway, “There was some type of cutting-off that turned this into a road rage incident,” police Chief Gordon Ramsay told the Eagle.

It was not immediately clear which vehicle cut off the other.

At the 1200 block of N. Topeka, police said a man got out of the Mustang and fired a pair of shots at the Tahoe before the vehicle drove away from the area.

Officer said they found the Mustang in the area. Inside were Ramonyka Smith and Travon Coleman, both 21. At a home in the 1100 block of North Hydraulic Avenue, authorities found Tylin Atkinson, 19, identified as the person suspected of firing the shots at the Tahoe.

Smith and Atkinson were arrested on charges of aggravated battery and unlawful discharge of a firearm into an occupied vehicle, police said. Officials arrested Coleman for outstanding warrants, though he was not immediately charged in connection to the shooting.

Authorities continue to investigate.

Florida city starts second phase of Amazon facial recognition program

The city of Orlando, the Orlando Police Department and Amazon Web Services said Thursday that they have begun the second phase of a pilot program evaluating Amazon's facial recognition technology.

The city said it partnered with Amazon to test the company's Rekognition technology from December to June as the first phase of the pilot program.

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The first phase lasted six months, but the second phase will last nine months -- through July, officials said.

Only images of Orlando police officers who have volunteered to participate in the program will be used during the second test period, which was also the case with the first test period.

The city said it will continue to use eight video streams from city-owned cameras -- four at OPD's headquarters, three Innovative Response to Improve Safety cameras and one at another undisclosed city-owned facility.

The technology won't be used for investigations during the pilot program and all privacy laws will be followed, officials said.

City staff members will explore procurement and develop a policy governing the technology should police decide to use it in an official capacity after the pilot program ends.Click here for more details about the program.

Walt Disney World announces new 'nature-inspired' resort

Walt Disney World guests will have another place to call home in a few years.

Company officials announced Thursday plans to build a nature-inspired resort along the shores of Bay Lake, situated between Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

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The hotel complex will also not be far from Magic Kingdom Park and Disney’s Contemporary Resort and will include 900 hotel rooms and Disney Vacation Club villas.

It will be the 16th Disney Vacation Club property, according to a Disney press release.

Disney officials said the new deluxe resort, which has not yet been named, will open in 2022. 

Officials also did not reveal how much the resort will cost to build or how much it will cost for guests to stay at the new accommodations.

The location is also near the former River Country water park, which closed in 2001. Disney did not say if the new hotel will be built on the site of the old water park.

Three other new resorts are also in the works at Walt Disney World, including an expanded Coronado Springs resort, the new Riviera resort near Epcot and an immersive Star Wars-themed hotel near Hollywood Studios. 

Disney officials said more than 1,700 new hotel rooms and DVC villas will open over the next four years.

Husband posts search for kidney for wife on back of van

A vehicle is driving around Lubbock, Texas, with a very important message -- “My wife needs a kidney.”

Gloria Parra-Adame thought that three years ago she was getting a cold, but it never went away. Doctors discovered she was in kidney failure, KCBD reported.

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After three years, Parra-Adame is still on the kidney transplant waiting list, KCBD reported, so her husband Roberto Adame, took an unusual path to finding the organ she needs by covering the rear window of their vehicle with a sign that reads: “HERO NEEDED MY WIFE NEEDS A KIDNEY 806-319-3674.”

Their grandson works at a printing shop and printed not only the sign, but cards and shirts too, KCBD reported.

So far the family has received more than 500 calls, but have yet to had a match, KCBD reported.

Houston museum apologizes for questionable email subject line

A Houston museum issued a public apology for using a subject line that could be construed as racially offensive, the Houston Chronicle reported.

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The Houston Museum of Natural Science used the term “Party with spooks” in the subject line of its bi-weekly electronic newsletter, the newspaper reported.

While the word "spook" is a synonym for "ghost," it is also a derogatory slur for black Americans.

"It's a tie to our annual Halloween party, which we've been doing for 10 years,” museum president Joel Bartsch told the Chronicle. “The word was meant to be a riff on the word spooky. That was the intention."

Bartsch said that when his employees saw the subject line, they addressed it by sending an explanation, the newspaper reported.

"Internal eyes noticed the subject line directly after it was sent,” Bartsch told the newspaper. 

The explanation reads:

"HMNS is committed to diversity and inclusion. We deeply regret that the subject line in this newsletter included a word with an offensive connotation, and sincerely apologize to everyone who received it. We are revisiting our internal policies and editorial review procedures to ensure this does not happen again."

Police: Disabled dog drowns after being tossed in pool during domestic argument

A South Florida man fighting with his ex-wife threw a disabled Chihuahua into a backyard swimming pool, telling the animal “You can’t swim but you’re going to learn tonight” before it drowned, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

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Pembroke Pines police arrested Juan Manuel Gonzalez, 40, on Thursday night and charged him with domestic violence and animal cruelty, the newspaper reported. Gonzalez’s ex-wife, who is four months pregnant, was injured during the domestic dispute, police said.

The arrest report does not describe the dog’s disability, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Gonzalez’s ex-wife called police around 11 p.m. Thursday, telling them she was grabbed by her face and suffered a cut lip.

“The victim advised that during the physical altercation, the defendant was screaming and yelling and destroying personal property within the house,” the arrest report said. “The victim also stated that she could hear the dog apparently suffering and crying for a short period of time. Ultimately, the family dog drowned.”

Police said Gonzalez was the “primary” aggressor in the dispute, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Gonzalez denied hurting his ex-wife but admitted throwing their dog into the pool, the newspaper reported.

RAE CARRUTH: "I just truly want to be forgiven"

After nearly 19 years in prison, former Carolina Panther Rae Carruth is nearing the end of his sentence. Days ahead of his release, Carruth spoke exclusively to WSOC to reflect on his time behind bars and how he feels about becoming a free man in a matter of days.

Carruth was sentenced to prison for planning the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Cherica Adams. Doctors managed to save their son, Chancellor Lee, but the trauma Cherica suffered before she died left the child with cerebral palsy.

Carruth spoke to WSOC anchor Erica Bryant by phone, telling her he had mixed emotions about getting out of Sampson Correctional Facility in Clinton, North Carolina.

“I’m excited about just being out of here. I’m nervous just about how I’ll be received by the public,” Carruth said. “I still have to work. I still have to live. I have to exist out there and it just seems like there is so much hate and negativity toward me.”

>> Read more trending news 

Rae Carruth will walk out of prison Monday in Sampson County, North Carolina, almost 19 years after the shooting that killed his girlfriend, severely injured his unborn son, and shook a community.

Cherica Adams was shot four times as she drove down Rea Road early on the morning of Nov. 16, 1999.

She managed to call 911 and told the operator that her boyfriend -- and baby’s father, Rae Carruth -- was driving in front of her and had slowed down before the shooting.

Det. Darrell Price questioned Carruth later that morning at the hospital, but said he denied being involved.

“I feel certain he thought we would never solve that case,” Price said. “Because cases are hard to solve without a crime scene. They're very difficult without a crime scene. And we had very little to work with. Our crime scene was her body.”

Adams died four weeks later, and police relied on cell phone evidence -- which back then was new technology -- to make their case against Carruth.

Carruth claimed he had nothing to do with the shooting, but two of his co-defendants, including the man who admitted firing the fatal shots, told the jury at his trial a year later that Carruth had wanted Adams killed because he didn’t want to pay child support.

The jury found Carruth guilty of conspiracy to kill Adams but not guilty of her actual murder.

Click here to read more of WSOC’s exclusive interview with Carruth’s including how he plans to have a relationship with his son.

Manhattan condo strips Trump name from building

A 46-story condominium in New York City has stripped the Trump name off its entrance, WABC reported.

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Trump Place, located between 69th and 70th streets on Riverside Boulevard in Manhattan, will now be known as 200 Riverside Boulevard, The New York Times reported.

The residents of the 377-unit Upper West Side condo joined three other neighborhood buildings in removing the Trump name from their facades:.

The building bought the right to use the Trump name in 2000, paying $1 under a four-page licensing agreement, the Times reported.

In 2015 there were 15 residential buildings in Manhattan that had the Trump name, the Times reported. Three rental apartments near the Riverside location removed the Trump name in 2016, the newspaper reported.

Condominium officials said it would cost $23,000 to remove the letters from the front and back of the building and wash the facade, WABC reported.

Researchers: Man dies after contracting disorder after eating squirrel brains

A New York hunter’s penchant for eating squirrel brains may have led to his death from a rare neurological disorder. 

The 61-year-old man, whose name hasn’t been released, had brain scans that looked like those who suffer from a variant of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (or vCJD). It’s a deadly condition that is connected to the consumption of contaminated meat, Inside Edition reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The man’s family said that he was an avid hunter who had previously eaten squirrel brains, according to Live Science, which was the first to report the story.

Researchers are not sure if the man ate the entire brain or if the meat from the rest of the squirrel was contaminated with pieces of brain matter, Live Science reported.

Shortly before his death, his family said he suffered from psychosis and schizophrenia. He also had lost his ability to walk. 

Dr. Tara Chen, a resident at Rochester Regional Health, did not treat the man, who died in 2016, but did examine his case while she researched a report on Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease at the hospital over five years, according to Live Science

Chen’s report was presented earlier this month during a meeting of organizations discussing infectious diseases.

Other people whose medical records Chen examined who have the disease included a hotel housekeeper, a janitor, a chemist who somehow ate dog food, and a woman who had undergone surgery.

Those who contract CJD usually die within a year of being infected. There is no treatment or cure. About 1 in a million people come down with CJD in the world, with about 350 cases in the U.S. each year, according to the National Institutes of Health.

CJD occurs when proteins called prions leave holes in the brain, according to the NIH.

CJD was in the news when people in the U.K. ate contaminated beef after a mad cow disease outbreak.

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