Short takes: Nuclear protesters, pill politics and mothers' work

Short takes: Nuclear protesters, pill politics and mothers' work

May 10th, 2013 in Opinion Times

Activist Sister Megan Rice attends a rally by supporters before her trial with fellow anti-nuclear weapons activists in Knoxville.

Activist Sister Megan Rice attends a rally by...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

No good deed goes unpunished

Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed were found guilty this week in federal court of depredation of government property and a rarely used count of injuring or obstructing the national defense. Instead they should be rewarded.

The three, collectively known as the Transform Now Plowshares, broke into the Y-12 National Security Complex on the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Reservation in the early morning hours of July 28, 2012.

Rice, a nun, is 83. The other two are 63 and 57. They surprised everyone, including themselves, when they managed to penetrate the high-security core of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge last summer to stage a several-hour, peaceful protest at the foot of the nation's storehouse for bomb-grade uranium.

Rather than prosecuting them, perhaps the security chief should have been tried, and the protesters should be receiving medals.

After all, they could have been real terrorists.

It's a pill

It's a pill to read politics into the Plan B One Step emergency contraception debate.

Moralists and some conservatives argue that taking the drug -- a contraceptive, not an abortion pill -- out from behind the counter and putting it on the shelves alongside condoms and allowing teens as young as 15 to buy it puts adult decisions in the hands of children. After all, 15-year-olds can't even drive, and usually have to get parental OK for an aspirin at school.

Reality check: Are there age limits on buying condoms? Is there an age limit on watching rerun episodes of "Friends" or any TV show that makes sex attractive and normal? Why not just petition God to change the biological clock on girls and boys so that they don't become sexually aware and interested until they are 30?

The fact is, 15-year-olds are at risk. Period. Many of our grandmothers and most of our great-grandmothers were married somewhere between 14 and 19.

Nothing here should be construed as encouragement for young girls not to practice abstinence, or at least safe sex. But look at the numbers. A 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 53 percent of Hamilton County female high schooler students have had a sexual experience. And Tennessee is among 15 states with the highest teen birth rates: 43.2 births per 1,000 teen girls. Georgia's rate was 41.4 per 1,000.

Parents, talk to your children. Maybe this pill sitting on the shelf beside condoms will motivate you.

Head Start or head in the sand?

The sequester -- a.k.a. Congress' short-sighted war on the poor -- means 64 low-income, at-risk youngsters will be cut from Head Start's early learning program at the end of May when the North Chattanooga Head Start site closes.

This early intervention education program aimed at children unlikely to get much school preparation on their own, costs about $7,000 a year per child.

That cost can pay for itself many times over when children start first grade with a leg up on learning. Why? Because that classroom readiness means public school classes aren't slowed, according to educators. But in Chattanooga, where the Head Start program is among the nation's best, 622 seats will be reduced by 50 this year, and another 14 slots will be cut from the 226 infants and toddlers served by the Early Head Start in-home program here.

It's a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face approach to money savings.

Pay parity for moms

Don't forget Mother's Day. If you do, you might get a bill.'s 2013's annual Mom's Paycheck survey took data from 6,000 people to compute hours spent as van drivers, laundry operators, cooks, psychologists, homework tutors, etc.

Stay-at-home moms work an average of 94 hours, and if given median wage rates for similar jobs in private business, they should earn $133,586 a year.

Working moms log an additional 58 hours of work at home and should earn $67,435 annually.