Stuff YOU Should Know

Pakistani Schoolgirl/Activist Recovering in the U.K.

On October 2, a masked Taliban gunman approached a school van in Pakistan’s Swat Valley and shot a schoolgirl in the head at close range. The girl, fifteen-year-old Malala Yousafzai of Mingora, Pakistan, was targeted because of her high-profile activism in support of education for girls. She survived, but is in serious condition at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Birmingham, England where she was transferred. Two other girls were wounded in the attack and received medical treatment.

Yousafzai has gained a lot of attention in the past four years. When she was eleven, her father  Ziauddin Yousafzai, encouraged her to attend a local press club where she spoke out against the Taliban who had prohibited girls from attending school. In the same year, she began writing an anonymous blog for the British Broadcast System (BBC), describing her life under Taliban rule. In 2009, filmmaker Adam Ellick made a documentary featuring her family called Class Dismissed. On February 21, 2009, the school ban was lifted, but Yousafzai’s family was soon displaced into a refugee camp. In the years that followed, she continued her activism, going on to be nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize and awarded the first ever National Youth Peace Prize.

A spokesperson for the Taliban, Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed that Yousafzai was targeted, calling her vocal support of education rights for women “obscene.” He said that if she survives, she will be targeted again, along with her father.

What Do You Think? How far would you go to stand up for what you believe in? Former First Lady, Laura Bush, compared Yousafzai to Anne Frank. Do some research. Why did she make this comparison? Do you agree?

Alfred Hitchcock in Pop Culture

Legendary film director Alfred Hitchcock is getting a lot of attention lately. Not bad for a man who’s been gone for more than 30 years. Hitchcock, who directed more than fifty films, is celebrated for his technical genius. He often used the camera and edited his films to imitate a character’s point of view or heighten anxiety and suspense. Among his most famous films are Rear Window, North By Northwest, Vertigo, and Strangers on a Train.

A new movie called Hitchcock comes out later this year starring Anthony Hopkins as the title character and Helen Miren as his wife Alma. The film centers around the couple’s relationship during the making of the film Psycho. Also, television network A&E will present Bates Motel, a series based on the characters from Psycho. The new television series explores Bates’ life as a teen and his troubled relationship with his mother. On HBO, The Girl is an original movie that examines the director’s tense on-set relationship with the actress Tippi Hedren, who starred in two Hitchcock films, The Birds and Marnie. Hitch has even made his mark on the stage. 39 Steps is a popular touring stage production based on the film of the same name. In it, four actors play 150 different characters.

Dig Deeper Have you seen any Hitchcock films? Do some research and find out what made his technique and style so unique and admired. Can you find any modern-day directors who say they were inspired by Hitchcock?

Severe Obesity on the Rise

In 2003, the Surgeon General of the United States testified before Congress, calling obesity the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in the country. Almost ten years later, one-third of our adults are still overweight. What is most troubling, however, is the growing number of Americans now considered severely obese (more than 100 pounds overweight) has grown from 4 percent to almost 7 percent.

Despite medical advances, an overwhelming amount of overweight adults (and now children) are being diagnosed with health problems that affect their quality of life. Diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and severe arthritis are the most common and serious effect of obesity. According to Centers for Disease Control, healthcare costs of the severely obese are almost double of those of normal weight.

The causes of severe obesity can be complicated. Habits, convenience, quality of food, less time for physical activity, genetics, behavior, and medical conditions can all play large roles in determining how much weight we carry. The good news is that obesity is both preventable and reversible. Gradual changes in lifestyle, including better nutrition and increased physical fitness, can create change.

What Do You Think? How aware are you of the effects of what you eat? Have you noticed any measures taken by your school (removal of soda machines or changes in cafeteria items) to help combat obesity?

Soccer as a Catalyst for Social Change

Last month, the 10th annual Homeless World Cup was held in Mexico City, Mexico. This event is an annual, international soccer tournament made up of teams of homeless persons who represent their home country. The idea came from two men, Mel Young from Scotland and Harald Schmied of Austria, who both attended a 2001 conference in Cape Town, South Africa on the topic of homelessness. The first Homeless World Cup was held in 2003 with 18 teams. Now there are 64 participating nations.

A record number 15,000 athletes, ranging in age from their teens to mid 20’s, applied for approximately 500 eligible slots this year. Players, chosen through a series of interviews and tryouts, compete in four-person squads. There are both mens and womens teams. Motivations for playing in the Homeless World Cup are vast. Some are great athletes, while others may seek out a connection with others in a similar situation. Many see this opportunity as a way to improve the quality of their lives, by keeping out of trouble, repairing relationships, battling addictions, and gaining permanent shelter and employment. In the final men’s game of the 2012 tournament, host country Mexico was defeated by Chile 8-5. The women of Mexico won over Brazil 6-2.

In addition to the World Cup games, the Homeless World Cup Foundation supports grassroots organizations around the world, uniting partners from 73 counties. These partners provide education, job training, heath services and legal advice.

What Do You Think? Is it effective to combine athletic competition with social awareness? Think of Susan G. Komen’s Race for the Cure , the Special Olympics , or Pelotonia. Can you find other sporting events that reach beyond the athletic goals of their competitions?

Ear tube insertion