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Implanted Chip Technology Worries Some

Three Square Market, a Wisconsin-based company, recently implanted microchips in 50 of its 80 employees in place of employee badges, giving these newly chipped employees easy access to their computers and entry into the building without the need for login passwords or physical building keys.

The company, which sells corporate self-serve cafeteria kiosks, has created so much buzz, many are wondering about the future of this chip technology. Will other companies across the nation follow suit and how soon? Though this is not the first time a company has used microchips on humans—Applied Digital Solutions installed the VeriChip to access medical records in 2001—many are concerned about the moral, economic, privacy, and political ramifications. Additionally, although this chip does not have GPS tracking capability, it is certainly possible, thus bringing a greater level of scrutiny and questions.

While the tech world predicts the inevitable adoption of chip technology to replace passports, car keys, computer passwords, and credit cards, many state legislators are still very cautious about this new technology or have simply banned the use of implanted tracking devices.

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Student-Teacher Sex Constitutional?

Alabama Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson has ruled that a state law criminalizing sex between high school teachers and students under age 19 is unconstitutional and has dismissed charges against former high school teacher Carrie Witt and former high school aide David Solomon for being too broad and for violating their 14th amendment rights. The age of consent in Alabama is 16, and both Witt and Solomon had sex with students above that age. “It is this court’s finding that the law grants these students the capacity to consent until and unless there is some showing that authority was used to obtain illegitimate or coerced consent,” wrote Thompson. Prosecutors plan to appeal the ruling.

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Texas Bathroom Privacy Bill Dies Again

The Texas bathroom privacy bill, meant to keep bathrooms and locker rooms in schools and public buildings designated on the basis of one’s biological sex, has died again. It passed the Senate in July, but it was never referred to the House. The author of the House version of the bill, state Rep. Ron Simmons, attempted to revive the bill as an amendment during a 30-day special session that ended this week, but the session adjourned Tuesday night without any action taken by the House on the bill.

Opposition to the bill came from IBM, the NFL, and Texas-based energy companies Halliburton and ExxonMobil Global Services, which claimed that sex-based bathroom usage was discriminatory and would prevent them from recruiting top talent. Additionally, two prominent WNBA players, Brittany Griner and Layshia Clarendon, co-wrote an op-ed piece for NBC News in opposition to the bill.

But the fight may not be over yet. Whether or not the Texas governor will call another special session is still unknown, but the bathroom privacy bill will likely be reconsidered in the next legislative session. Noted Rep. Simmons, “This issue’s not going to go away just because we don’t handle it in the special session. If we don’t deal with it now, we’re going to have to do it later.”

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Flunked for Referring to the Two Sexes

Some professors at Washington State University are threatening to flunk or expel students who choose to use “hateful” language such as referring to men and women as male and female. Professor Selena Lester Breikss, in explaining the language rules in her Women & Popular Culture class, says, “Repeated use of oppressive and hateful language will be handled accordingly—including but not limited to removal from the class without attendance or participation points, failure of the assignment, and—in extreme cases—failure for the semester.” Additionally, any other terms considered “racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language” are off limits in her classroom. And in Michael Johnson Jr.’s Race and Racism in U.S. Popular Culture class, students are required to “acknowledge” the existence of “heterosexism” as somehow oppressive.

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Political Figures, Social Media, and Free Speech

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing several conservative public servants, including Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin, and now Maine Gov. Paul LePage for blocking individuals from their official social media accounts. The ACLU argues that official social media accounts constitute a “public forum” where constituents should be able to voice their opinions. But is it wrong to weed out abusive comments? Rob Anderson, chairman of Utah’s Republican Party, doesn’t think so. “You own your Facebook page and if you want to block somebody or hide somebody, that’s up to you,” he says. “Why else is there a tab that says hide or block?” With more and more politicians, particularly candidates up for election or reelection, going online to talk about the issues in the next several months, this will clearly be a matter of contention.

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