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16 Sep 2014

A female member of Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights has reportedly been fined for driving herself to the hospital. When police pulled her over, Aliyah Al Farid said she had a medical emergency and there was no one available to drive her to the hospital so she took her husband’s car.

A female member of Saudi Arabia’s National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has reportedly been fined for driving herself to the hospital.
When police pulled her over, Aliyah Al Farid said she had a medical emergency and there was no one available to drive her to the hospital so she took her husband’s car.
The officers reportedly allowed her to continue driving. They followed her to the hospital and waited while she saw a doctor, before taking her to the traffic department where she was fined for driving without a licence.
Women are unable to get a driver’s licence in Saudi Arabia, despite there being no law against women driving.
Al Farid has been arrested for driving twice previously and has participated in campaigns to allow female drivers, but told Arabic dailyAl Hayat on this occasion it was an emergency.
“I told the traffic officers that I had to drive because it was an emergency case,” she said.
“I didn’t do it on purpose and I’m not after fame or media hype. I was very sick and that was it.”
She said she also occasionally drove patients at her centre for persons with special needs when they urgent medical attention.
“We can’t leave an epileptic patient convulsing on the ground while waiting for our male driver to come and transport him to hospital,” she said.
“I have to get behind the steering wheel and do it.”

Teen drug and alcohol use continues to fall, new federal data show: "Teen marijuana use, a contentious topic now that several states have legalized marijuana sales, is also on the decline."

Drug and alcohol use among America's teens continues to trend downward, according to new numbers released today by the Department of Health and Human Services. From 2002 to 2013, the average American teenager's odds of regular (at least monthly) tobacco use nearly halved. Recreational use of prescription painkillers saw a similar decline.
The rate of regular alcohol use among teens aged 12 to 17 declined from from 17.6 percent to 11.6 percent over the same period. Teen marijuana use, a contentious topic now that several states have legalized marijuana sales, is also on the decline.
These findings come from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual, nationally-representative survey of roughly 70,000 Americans aged 12 and older. Because of its large sample size the survey is considered an authoritative account of the nature and scope of drug, alcohol and tobacco use in the United States.
"We're seeing really exciting numbers in terms of the 12 to 17 year-olds across the country," according to Peter Delany, the director of the Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality (CBHSQ) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "We see illicit drug use down significantly from 2009. We see marijuana starting to trend downward. Hallucinogens and inhalants are also down slightly."
"The 2013 NSDUH results suggest that the Administration’s efforts to reduce drug and alcohol use among young people is working," the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) said in a press release. 
Among all Americans, the survey finds that drug use trends are essentially flat. The percentage of those aged 12+ using any illicit drug in the past month is up slightly year-over-year, from 9.2 percent in 2012 to 9.4 percent in 2013. These numbers are driven primarily by a similar uptick in marijuana use over the same period.
The numbers suggest that ONDCP efforts to curb some of the most dangerous drug behavior, like opioid abuse, may be bearing fruit. "We’re especially heartened by the decrease in new initiates [that is, first-time use] of prescription drug misuse, which aligns with our prevention efforts," said ONDCP spokeswoman Cameron Hardesty.
The new figures on marijuana use come as several states are debating whether and how to legalize and regulate the marijuana market. Much of the discussion has centered around whether legalized marijuana would lead to increased adolescent marijuana use, which has been linked with poor health and education outcomes later in life.

Texas proposes rewriting school text books to deny manmade climate change


Texas has proposed re-writing school text books to incorporate passages denying the existence of climate change and promoting the discredited views of an ultra-conservative think tank.
The proposed text books – which come up for public hearing at the Texas state board of education on Tuesday – were already attracting criticism when it emerged that the science section had been altered to reflect the doctrine of the Heartland Institute, which has been funded by the Koch oil billionaires.
A report from the Texas Freedom Network and the National Centre for Science Education on Monday found a number of instances where the proposed texts rejected recognised science.
In the proposed 6th grade texts, students were introduced to global warming amid false claims that there was scientific disagreement about its causes.
“Scientists agree that Earth’s climate is changing. They do not agree on what is causing the change,” the passage reads.
It quotes two staffers at the Heartland Institute who are not scientists. 
However, as the analysis noted, there is no scientific disagreement about the causes of climate change. The report said the entire section was misleading. “Scientists do not disagree about what is causing climate change, the vast majority (97%) of climate papers and actively publishing climatologists (again 97%) agree that human activity is responsible,” the report said.
The NCSE experts also took issue with the prominence given over to Heartland. The views of a fringe were given greater prominence than the findings from the thousands of scientists contributing to the United Nations’ blockbuster IPCC reports on climate change on the opposite page.
Minda Berbeco of the NCSE said that the disinformation was a disservice to a new generation of Texans who will have to deal with climate change. “Climate change will be a key issue that future citizens of Texas will need to understand and confront, and they deserve social studies textbooks that reinforce good science and prepare them for the challenges ahead,” she said in a statement.
Kathy Miller, the president of the Texas Freedom Network, suggested that the proposed text books had been deliberately aligned with the political ideology of the rightwing Tea Party. A majority of Republicans in Congress deny the existence of global warming or oppose action on climate change.

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