California Considers Getting Rid of Vaccination Waivers

Also, horrifying Facebook racism from a congressman's advisor, possible good news for fans of medical marijuana, and Bonne Bell is saved from oblivion.
Amanda Lauren
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Also, horrifying Facebook racism from a congressman's advisor, possible good news for fans of medical marijuana, and Bonne Bell is saved from oblivion.

If you read xoNews on Wednesday (and you should have), there was a whole lot of news about vaccinations, and today I have even more information about what is being done to prevent future outbreaks. I also have an update on how Jordan is responding against ISIS for the death of pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh. Plus, some good news about weed and the racist Facebook posts from a congressman’s communications advisor that will equally disgust you and make you facepalm.

Do you think people should know better than to post things that could jeopardize their jobs on Facebook? Especially when they work for the government. Should religious exemptions be allowed for parents who do not want to vaccinate their children? Discuss these or any news stories in the comments or tweet me directly @AmandaLauren.

California Might Be Waving Goodbye To Vaccination Waivers

If you want to risk having your child un-vaccinated in the state of California, even if it’s for religious reasons, you might not be able to do so for much longer. When it was discovered that a measles outbreak in California started at Disneyland, the “happiest place on earth” wasn't so happy.

In 2012, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which preserved parents' rights not to vaccinate their children for personal beliefs, including religious beliefs, but requires health-care providers to explain the risks involved. However, if parents opt out strictly for religious reasons, then health-care providers are not required to provide an explanation.

On Wednesday, Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein called for a ban on these exemptions.

We think both options are flawed, and oppose even the notion of a medical professional assisting to waive a vaccine requirement unless there is a medical reason, such as an immune deficiency. While a small number of children cannot be vaccinated due to an underlying medical condition, we believe there should be no such thing as a philosophical or personal belief exemption, since everyone uses public spaces.

Evan Westrup, Governor Brown’s spokesperson said the governor “believes that vaccinations are profoundly important and a major public health benefit, and any bill that reaches his desk will be closely considered.”

Currently, 50 states require vaccinations for children starting school. All states excluding West Virginia and Mississippi allow religious waivers and 20 states allow vaccine wavers based on personal beliefs.

Shocking Facebook Posts From Aaron Schock’s Communications Advisor

Benjamin Cole, Aaron Schock’s senior advisor for policy and communications, has resigned after Think Progress and BuzzFeed discovered what is essentially an entire smorgasbord of Facebook posts, and describing them as racist or hateful doesn’t even come close to cutting it.

On October 13, 2013, during the government shutdown, Cole posted a video of a black woman on the street outside his Washington, D.C., apartment, having an argument with someone who isn’t visible, with the following caption,

So apparently the closing on the National Zoo has forced the animals to conduct their mating rituals on my street #gentrifynow.

On December 13, Cole posted another racist message, which said,

One of the hood rats on my street just got shot by another hood rat. I was right there when the gun was fired.

In August 2010, Cole posted,

[Benjamin Cole] thinks they should build a mosque on the White House grounds.

I just think it would be nice for the President to have his own house of worship since he’s not able to find one suitable in DC since 2004 when he moved here.

Just last week, Cole referred to the “black miscreants” on his street when he said they “routinely harassed” the white residents in his building and that he was trying to put “black criminals who live and loiter on my street behind bars.”

Before going into politics, Cole was a pastor for nearly 13 years.

Schock offered a requisite mea culpa:

I am extremely disappointed by the inexcusable and offensive online comments made by a member of my staff. I would expect better from any member of my team. Upon learning about them I met with Mr. Cole and he offered his resignation, which I have accepted.

Schock also made headlines this week when the Washington Post published pictures of his Downton Abby–themed office (you can’t make this up), complete with renovated granite countertops, leather furniture, and other unnecessarily extravagant decor paid for by tax dollars.

Getting Marijuana Right on Schedule

As it stands right now, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug like heroin and LSD, meaning it has “no currently accepted medical use,” but that might be changing because clearly it does. Now, even the surgeon general has acknowledged this. In an interview with CBS This Morning, when asked about his stance on legalization, new Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said,

We have some preliminary data that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.

While Murthy doesn’t think marijuana should be legal for recreational reasons, he believes that policy should be driven by science in terms of using marijuana for medical reasons.

Lowering the schedule won’t make weed legal, but it will make medical research easier.

But don’t inhale just yet . . . .  After the interview, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement on Dr. Muthy’s behalf,

While clinical trials for certain components of marijuana appear promising for some medical conditions, neither the FDA nor the Institute of Medicine have found smoked marijuana to meet the standards for safe and effective medicine for any condition to date.

Fifty Shades of Awareness

While lots of people (especially in the Bible Belt, where sales have been much higher than anticipated), are getting very excited to see Fifty Shades of Grey, which opens next week, not everyone is tied up in the hype. Activists feel the story glamorizes violence toward women. They’ve started a social media campaign with hashtag #50dollarsnot50shades asking people to donate $50 to domestic violence shelters instead of going to see the film. Organizers told The Washington Times,

People are really upset about this movie and its potential for glamorizing stalking and abusive behavior, so they’re happy to have the chance to do something positive to help offset the damage.

One of the sponsors of the campaign, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation added,

[Real women] don’t end up like Anastasia; they often end up in a women’s shelter, on the run for years or dead.


· There’s been a shakeup in the lip balm world. Last weekend it was reported that, a childhood favorite for so many, Bonnie Bell Lipsmackers (oh Dr. Pepper, Piña Colada, sugary lip glossy goodness) was coming off the market because the company was shutting down its manufacturing and distribution facility in Westlake, Ohio. But don’t worry, you can keep smacking your lips because the brand has been sold off to Markwins, which will continue to sell the product in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Australia.

· After a hacking scandal late last year revealed a whole lot of embarrassing emails among other information leaks, Sony Pictures cochairman Amy Pascal is stepping down from her position. After 15 years at Sony, she is starting a new production company. But Pascal isn’t exactly cutting ties with her former employer. Her new company has a four-year financing deal with Sony Pictures and will be run out of the same offices as Sony.

· After Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh was burned alive by ISIS, the country is vowing to destroy the terrorist organization. On Thursday, in a mission called “Moath the Martyr,” fighter jets carried out airstrikes destroying ISIS arms and ammunition depots as well as training centers. Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh told CNN, “We are upping the ante. We're going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have. But it's not the beginning, and it's certainly not the end.”