Hairdressers and Domestic Violence

I noticed an article about a law requiring hairdressers in Tennessee  to undergo training to recognize signs of domestic abuse as of January 2022. Subsequently, I discovered that Tennessee ranks  5th as the state where women are killed by men.  So  utilizing any available resource  wouldn’t be surprising,  still, I was curious why Tennessee  and no other states?  That’s how I discovered that many other states have similar programs. New York, Illinois, Massachusetts…  and to my great surprise  that list included Texas or at least certain counties in Texas, with a program that  began in 2015 in Brazos County, where about half of violent felonies  were from domestic abuse situations. Yet  in none of these states is the training extensive but that’s not the point, hairdressers—and barbers—are not therapists–. The point is that hairdressers and barbers are in a unique position. Domestic abuse sufferers will generally not report their predicament to law enforcement but they will share it under the right conditions. And all of us know the freedom one experiences, how open and unfettered we can be while our hair is being cut and fussed with. Hairdressers can notice bruises and cuts, but also they can observe or be taught to observe certain behavior such as self- blame, sudden lifestyle changes, irregular appointments. One hair dresser noticed a bald spot in her client and it turned out that her  husband was pulling her hair out.  As a rule the task of the hairdressers and barbers is not to report it to law enforcement  but to share appropriate resources. That can be something as simple as giving them a phone number or two. In Tennessee it took a while for the law to be passed. The legislature did not want to appropriate funds for the training. Finally a sponsor came through.

Training hairdressers and barbers is such a common-sense approach to a delicate problem. I don ’t know it if is in all states, but I would surmise in time it will be.

Fighting Noise Pollution in Paris

Paris, it was discovered, is the noisiest city in Europe. It has 5.5 million people, while London or Berlin are much smaller,  and this contributes to the noise level having become a public health issue. It interferes with people’s sleeping and in some cases with ordinary living such as talking or listening to music. As part of combating noise pollution a special program has installed  noise radars that are capable of detecting the noise levels and identify of the vehicle it is coming from. For now the radars called “medusas” are only in the 17th and 20th arrondissements. Once the program goes into effect after 2023 each offender will be fined 135 euros, a fine automatically sent to their home. Much of the noise comes from scooters and motorcycles souped up to increase the sounds they make. It is estimated that one  of these scooters can wake up as many as 10,000 people. The efforts are a continuation of  the city fighting noise pollution. The first noise plan was in place from 2015 to 2020 and implemented measures such as sound barriers  along the peripherique, the freeway that goes around  the city or the testing of an innovative low noise asphalt. Not only are Parisians upset by the noise levels, the Word Health Organization  attributes  excessive noise, above 55 decibels, to a whole range of health issues, including cardio vascular problems. Also France’s National Noise Council  has determined that excessive noise interferes with people’s sleep and productivity and costs the nation 147 billion euros each year. Other cities and other countries are watching France’s efforts in the hope of being able to import or adapt them. Anyone living in a large urban center can certainly appreciate the need to do something, anything about noise pollution.

Animals With Legal Rights

In Ecuador individual wild animals now have legal rights. It’s the first country in the world to do so. And it follows because in 2008 Ecuador became the first country to recognize that nature  or Pachamama, was an entity deserving rights. That law became part of the country’s constitution and yet it wasn’t clear whether wild animals were included. The new case has now settled that thanks to a woolly monkey named Estrellita. The monkey who had been illegally taken from the wild was kept as a pet by a librarian for 18 years. Owning wild animals is illegal in Ecuador and in 2019 Estrellita was taken from the librarian’s home and put in a zoo. A month later she died. The librarian did not know of the death and after Estrellita  was seized sued to have the pet returned on the ground  that her detention was illegal. What makes this story even more moving is that the court ruled in favor of the librarian, even if it was too late for Estrellita to be returned, but also ruled that the removal from her habitat  in the first place had been a violation of her rights. In Ecuador this verdict raises the issue of animal rights to that of the highest law of the land, the level of constitution. In essence the court’s decision  states that animals have rights protected by nature. This means that wild animals cannot be hunted, traded, fished, trafficked, captured, kept, collected, extracted, retained or exchanged. Following the example of Ecuador several countries now have granted legal protection to wild animals either through their courts or their constitution, countries like Columbia, Mexico, Chile, New Zealand, Panama. That is only a beginning, it doesn’t take a crystal ball to know other countries will join in.

Smart Headlights

They have them in Europe and in Canada, now the United States will be able to have smart headlights too, thanks to a recent ruling by the Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration—NHTSA, something I didn’t even know existed. Smart headlights are a technology which relies on sensors and LED. What they do is focus to illumine dark  and unoccupied areas and reduce intensity of illumination when there is oncoming traffic.  It all sounds so welcome, I suspect  we’ve all had the experience of being blinded by traffic from the other side or not seeing certain areas well enough. Smart headlights will prevent crashes by better illuminating pedestrians, animals, and other objects without impairing the visibility of drivers.   In 2019 research from the American Automobile Association found that the roadway illumination of the European cars with the adaptive beam headlight system—the formal name for smart headlights— increased by 86%  when compared with the usual US cars on low beams. It may not sound like a big deal but it seems to me that it will make night driving not only much safer but much easier. In my neighborhood where streets are narrower than on main thoroughfares, coming home late and looking out for people who are too busy looking at their phones while walking their dogs will soon be that much less frustrating. I don’t know how long it will take for car makers in the US to install this technology into new models, but like rear cameras they are an exciting addition.