Thursday, December 05, 2019

A British police force spent £23,000 on gender-neutral caps - only to get rid of them 18 months later after public outcry

A police force spent £23,000 on gender-neutral 'Burger King' caps to replace traditional helmets only to get rid of them 18 months later following a public outcry.

Northamptonshire Police introduced the US-style 'bump hats' in May 2017 to attract more transgender officers, claiming that 'gender-based headgear' was acting as 'a barrier to the non-binary transgender community'.

But they were largely scrapped in November last year after critics said they made officers 'look like Jimmy Krankie' and replaced with the traditional helmets that have been a symbol of British policing for more than 150 years.

'No longer will male and female officers be issued different headgear with varying safety ratings simply on the basis of gender', a spokesman said after their launch    +3
Northamptonshire Police introduced the US-style 'bump hats' in May 2017 to attract more transgender officers

Announcing on Twitter that the controversial caps would be phased out, Chief Constable Nick Adderley accepted they 'did not portray the right image' and that 'the public supports this view'.

The failed experiment cost £23,417 over two years, according to a Freedom of Information request by MailOnline.

The caps were introduced after research suggested the new headwear would eradicate the issue of transgender officers having to decide between custodian helmets for males and bowler hats for females.

A spokesman for the force had said: 'Not only will the new bump caps offer a better level of protection, the new headgear means that no longer will male and female officers be issued different headgear with varying safety ratings simply on the basis of gender.

'Engagement has also shown that having to choose gender-based headgear is a barrier to the non-binary transgender community joining the police service.

'By introducing this new hat we provide a single protective hat to all police officers, Special Constables and PCSOs for general duties.'

The caps replaced the 'gender-based' helmets and bowler hats previously worn by officers    +3
The caps replaced the 'gender-based' helmets and bowler hats previously worn by officers

Bump hats, which have a reinforced frame, are more lightweight than the helmets and allow officers to clamber in and out of vehicles without removing them.

But they are regularly ridiculed by critics – who claim the caps make officers look more like Burger King workers.

After Mr Adderley announced the reversal on Twitter, officers took to social media to endorse the move, with one saying the 'bump cap' made her look like Jimmy Krankie.

One user said: 'Excellent decision. The standard of dress, uniform and appearance has plummeted over the last decade or so. It's about time we got back to basics and started looking professional.'

Another said: 'Absolutely fantastic decision. Have been the commander on many event and the image of a public order officer wearing a baseball cap has not been a good one. High uniform standards for our officers is a must.'


More  money than sense

I remember the time not so long ago when NOBODY carried around bottles of water.  How did we survive?

Daniela Finlay had known for a while that water bottles had become a big deal.

But it wasn’t until she watched a fellow student break down after dropping and denting her stainless steel Hydro Flask earlier this fall that she understood just how big.

“Crying may be a little bit of an exaggeration,” says Finlay, a freshman at Wellesley College, recalling the moment. “But she was very visibly upset.”

And can you blame her?

Once an afterthought, the humble water bottle has emerged as a designer product — the “it” accessory of the moment.

The trendiest bottles retail for around the same as a car insurance payment, selling — in some cases — for more than $100. The popular brand BKR has taken to billing its water bottles as beauty products, selling them in store beauty departments.

Earlier this year, the water brand Evian held a New York City release party for its limited-edition glass water bottle — designed by Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh.

“We don’t just see water,” Abloh said in the marketing material for the bottle. “We see infinite possibilities and inspiration.”

American consumers have long been discerning about the water they drink, as evidenced by the rise of pricey brands like FIJI and Smartwater. But with disposable plastic bottles falling out of favor, perhaps it was only a matter of time before permanent containers became the focus.

In the last three years, Americans bought roughly 287 million water bottles, says Joe Derochowski, who serves as home industry adviser for the market research firm NPD Group.

And in just the past year, sales of bottles in the $30-$40 range have jumped a whopping 15 percent.

“It’s people saying, ‘If I’m going to buy a water bottle, I want it not to just be functionally good, I want it to look good,’ ” says Derochowski. “And in a selfie world, that’s kind of what is happening.”

Indeed, on a recent afternoon inside Boston University’s George Sherman Union, atop nearly every table was some sort of colorful bottle. Pricey Hydro Flask bottles have become part of the official uniform of so-called VSCO girls — trendy cliques of middle- and high-school-age girls who favor baggy sweat shirts, Vans sneakers, scrunchies, and — apparently — high-priced water bottles.

Even those still in elementary school are suddenly jostling for fancy water bottles over toys.

When her 7-year-old son asked for a Hydro Flask for Christmas, Shalyn Sherman had to look up what, exactly, he was talking about.

“He’s all about the Hydro Flask,” says Sherman, of Lynn. “It’s on his Christmas list, it’s on his birthday list. That’s the main thing he wants right now.”

The ascent of water bottles to status symbol probably began with the vilification of the disposable kind. When Nalgene’s jewel-colored bottles exploded onto the scene in the 2000s, it was amid growing national concern over environmental sustainability of single-use plastic. In short order, they became fashion standards on college campuses across the country.

But those hard-plastic bottles, selling for about $10, were cheap compared to the market’s offerings now. S’well bottles — available in various sizes and designs — go for as much as $60. Hydro Flasks can range in price from $30 for a smaller 18-ounce bottle to $65 for a 64-ounce wide-mouth version.

Then there’s the Soji Black Obsidian Crystal Elixir Water Bottle — retail price, $94 — which, according to the company’s website, includes “a powerful grounding stone that quickly blocks all forms of negativity . . . [and] shields against psychic attacks, mental stress and tension.”

For acolytes of the craze, such high-brow bottles are worth the hefty price. The high-end bottles can keep water cold for extended periods, and many say it’s one thing they’ll have with them pretty much every minute of every day.

But even those happy to make such an investment admit that, all told, there isn’t much fundamental difference between the latest popular brands and cheaper varieties.

“I think the mass appeal effect is that you’re able to heat or cool something for 24 hours,” says Ramsha Arshad, a senior computer science major at BU who owns a high-end S’well water bottle. “But most water bottles these days can do that.”

Which is not to say, however, that everyone is sold.

As bottles have gotten increasingly high-tech and pricey, some have resisted the urge to upgrade.

Seated at a table inside BU’s student union on a recent afternoon, junior Jay Li defiantly pulled a massive blue Nalgene bottle from his backpack — a bottle that, among today’s flashier alternatives, appeared downright ancient.

Li purchased the bottle two years ago, for around $10, and it has served him well, he said, always holding enough water to get him through the day.

He’s aware that it’s not the trendiest of bottles, but he is comfortable with that.

“It does the job,” he says. “At the end of the day, it’s just water.”


The Marine Corps’ annual birthday video included only six seconds of women in an eight-minute tribute

So what?  It's mostly a male organization

To celebrate the upcoming birthday of the U.S. Marines, the service’s top brass sent around a special video message—and drew a barrage of criticism. Women service members are visible in roughly six seconds of the eight-minute video.

Current and former Marines rebuked Marine Commandant General David H. Berger and Sergeant Major Troy E. Black, the top enlisted Marine, for the lack of inclusion and for a failure of leadership.

The backlash comes as the U.S. Marine Corps continues to wrestle with its internal culture in the wake of the Marines United scandal less than three years ago—when a male

Marines-only Facebook group shared nude photos and obscene comments about women service members—and amid continuing battles over whether women should be allowed to serve in ground combat units that historically have been all male.

“It is a self-indulgent ‘love me and my grunts and everyone else can pound sand in the corner’ video,” said former Marine Sergeant Erin Kirk-Cuomo, who co-founded “Not In My Marine Corps,” a group dedicated to fighting sexual assault and harassment in the U.S. military.

“It’s 10 steps back from where it should be and just an all-around boring birthday message with no motivation,” said Kirk-Cuomo. “But the lack of diversity regarding women is a deliberate hit at them and how they have been given more opportunities recently,” said Kirk-Cuomo. “The vitriol towards female Marines is at an all-time high right now and this video just shows it.”

Kirk-Cuomo said that many female Marines are not happy with the video and responses they are receiving from some of their male Marine counterparts has been disheartening.

One active-duty female Marine officer told Newsweek that she was “sick of this ‘oversight’ happening over and over again as in, how it always seems to be a ‘mistake’ or ‘accident,’” for not including women. “It’s not an accident to eliminate an entire demographic from a product intended for the force,” said the officer, who asked for anonymity due to fear of reprisal from her chain of command.

Kirk-Cuomo said she attributed the attitude toward women within the rank-and-file directly to top leadership. “If the Commandant can’t even bother to bring up the strides women have made in a birthday message or have a female voice in it even for a 20-second clip, what does that say to Marines? That leadership doesn’t care and doesn’t feel the need to be inclusive to women, so why should anyone else?”

Some current and former Marines speaking out online said the lack of women in the video is a non-issue and is being overblown, with many praising the video for its depiction of combat forces.

The Marine video begins with images of the heartland—moving the audience from the Rust and Bible Belts of the Midwest and southern United States to major metropolitan cities and suburbs. An American morning begins as a radio dial scans through the airwaves to find CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr telling Wolf Blitzer that the Marines will be ready to go if and when the order comes.

Hard cut to a naval aircraft carrier navigating the seas where Marines can be seen gearing up, while narration from General Berger plays over the picture.

“Every Marine trains, prepares, 24-7 to get the phone call in the middle of the night that your unit’s deploying,” Berger says in the video. “The phone call that you weren’t expecting, but you’re ready for.”

The video shows Marines running out onto the flight deck to board MV-22 Osprey helicopters: quick cuts in the video show Marines racking bullets into their rifles just before the music shifts from an inspiring melody to Michael Bay dramatic.

Tanks fire their main cannons offscreen as amphibious assault vehicles roll onto a beachhead with fighter jets flying high over land and water.

Sergeant Major Black’s narration focuses on the camaraderie between Marines and how their bond supports their ability to complete the mission. The overall theme of the video ties into Berger’s vision of how the U.S. can compete with adversaries such as China and Russia—a show of force on the world stage via naval strength and agility.

As in past birthday videos, this one, for the Corps’ 244th birthday on November 10th, pays homage to the Marines’ legacy with short interviews with veterans. “Once a Marine always a Marine is not just a slogan,” Berger reminds viewers. The veterans interviewed in the video are both male.

The video has been viewed more than 112,000 times since being published.

Asked for a reply to the controversy, a Marine spokesperson told Newsweek, “The USMC will not have a comment for you on this topic.”


Australia: Police "strike" on going into Aboriginal settlements?

Just the charging of constable Rolfe has created tension. If the Rolfe trial leads to anything but complete exoneration, police may well in future refuse to go into Aboriginal communities.  Armchair judgments on police actions in the heat of the moment are intrinsically unfair and basing a prosecution on them tells police not to bother in future

One of Australia's longest-serving former police commissioners believes the shooting of Indigenous man Kumanjayi Walker in a remote Northern Territory community could have widespread consequences for the future of policing.

Western Australia's ex-police commissioner Karl O'Callaghan said officers felt unsupported after Constable Zachary Rolfe was charged with murder and many will be watching the outcome of the case "very closely".

Dr O'Callaghan also expressed sadness at the low number of Aboriginal people involved in law enforcement and the failed efforts to recruit them.

The comments come amid fresh scrutiny on policing strategies in isolated townships and the relationship between Indigenous people and the law.

Too risky for officers

As the state's highest-ranking officer for 13 years, Dr O'Callaghan has extensive experience in overseeing policing strategies in some of the most isolated places on earth.

He said the decision to charge Mr Rolfe with murder over the shooting sent ripples of dismay through the policing fraternity.

"I think [officers] feel they are not supported," he said. "[Officers] go out and do their job, something happens in a split second and they end up getting charged with a very serious offence.

"I think police in Western Australia and the Northern Territory will be very, very concerned about what this means for trying to support those Aboriginal communities."

He said the case had the potential to change the way officers approached policing in these places — and not necessarily for the better.

"The outcome of this will be watched very closely all over Australia," he said. "It will have an impact on the best of our police officers, on their decision to go to those communities.

"It will be a bad thing if police officers who are qualified and very skilled at their work decide that they don't want to go there because of this risk."

Policing in the far-flung regional centres of Western Australia and the Northern Territory has long presented a logistical and cultural challenge for officers.

A handful of staff are often responsible for between several hundred to 1,000 residents.

Small communities can be easily inundated by visitors who travel thousands of kilometres, many from interstate, to attend family commitments.

In addition to layers of complex social problems, there are language and cultural barriers to navigate, and support is usually hours away.

Law enforcement in these conditions requires a unique approach, according to Dr O'Callaghan, because officers, "are trying to deal with a lot of complex social issues".

"It can have an enormous impact on a police officer because of the complexity of what they're dealing with and I think even the best-prepared officers are not prepared or trained to deal with what they find in those communities," he said.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the  incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of  other countries.  The only real difference, however, is how much power they have.  In America, their power is limited by democracy.  To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already  very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges.  They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did:  None.  So look to the colleges to see  what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way.  It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH,   EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and  DISSECTING LEFTISM.   My Home Pages are here or   here or   here.  Email me (John Ray) here.  Email me (John Ray) here


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