House Sends Articles Of Impeachment To Senate, Virginity Testing Ban, VA Smoking Ban, New Dinosaur Discovery And Preserving San Diego Black History
KPBS Midday Edition / January 15, 2020
Speaker 1: 00:00 Assemblywoman. Lorena Gonzalez, who's calling for a statewide ban on so-called virginity testing, Gonzalez introduced assembly bill 1909 last week. It will subject physicians who perform the exam to professional misconduct penalties. Here's Gonzales. It's a uh, anyone but a doctor performed this procedure if you will, they, they would be guilty of sexual assault. And so, um, since there's no medically accurate or justified reason, um, to do this examination, uh, we think it's time to, to ensure that doctors also don't do it. The practice came into the spotlight when rapper T I said he took his daughter to the gynecologist yearly to check her hymen to see if she had intercourse. Sophia Jones is an editor and journalist with the fuller project, a journalism nonprofit reporting on issues impacting women. She wrote a piece of Marie-Claire on the practice and joins us now. Sophia, welcome. Thank you. First, what do we know about how common these so-called virginity test are and how common are they in the United States?
Speaker 1: 01:03 That's a really difficult question to answer. I mean there, there isn't very much data at all and it's a very secretive issue wrapped up in hundreds of years in Assad money and shame. And I interviewed several dozen girls, women, medical professionals, researchers who say that it's definitely happening in the United States. It's been happening for a long time and there just isn't much, um, education around the hymen in general and that it's largely happening in secret. I'm curious to know, is this so-called test more common among various, um, groups of people here in the U S than others? When I set out to do this reporting, I assumed that it would be more common in certain religious communities. But what I found was that it's actually fairly widespread. And of course the data is very difficult to get for a very secretive a thing like virginity testing. But I was speaking with, um, women across religious and socioeconomic groups across the United States who said that this was happening to them.
Speaker 1: 02:05 And what do these tests involve? Usually it involves a hymen exam in which a girl or woman would go into a doctor's office. Um, sometimes it doesn't happen in doctor's offices. It might just happen in a home where a woman would actually have to spread her legs and the person would inspect their hymen in an attempt to determine if they are a Virgin or not, which of course is not scientifically accurate at all. And does, um, some people say it's abusive. Right. And, and as you mentioned, these tests can actually tell you whether someone is a Virgin or not. Um, can you explain to us why that is? Sure. So there, there is no marker of virginity in men or women and a lot of people don't know that. They might not have been taught that in school or as adults, but there is no scientific way to prove if anyone is a Virgin.
Speaker 1: 02:55 Virginity is largely a social construct and the hymen itself, um, can, can change shapes and it, um, some girls can have their high mentor in when they're playing sports. Some women much later in life, still have a relatively, uh, quote unquote intact hymen. Um, so it really just depends. And you spoke to a woman who told you that there's so-called virginity test was a traumatic experience for her. Can you tell us about the woman you refer to as B in your Marie-Claire story on the subject? Sure. So she was a very young woman, a teenager when she had to undergo a virginity test and she actually referred to the test as rape by instrument. It was, um, something that her, her mother forced her into at a very young age. And she has struggled her entire life with, with getting over this trauma. And she's still in therapy because of it.
Speaker 1: 03:48 And a lot of the women that I've spoken with say that it, it dramatically impacted their life. For some women, this is happening at a very young age. They might be, you know, under the age of 15 for others it's happening as adults. These tests can also lead to sexual abuse not being taken seriously. Can you talk to us a bit about that? Sure. Over the course of my reporting over months, I uncovered quite a few surprising court cases over decades, even in the last few years in which, uh, defense attorneys and courtrooms have used, uh, rape kits and Hyman exams as an attempt to say that rape or sexual violence did not occur because the girl or a woman's Hyman was quote unquote intact. And of course there is no scientific basis for this. So it's just a way to try to defend sexual violence and rape.
Speaker 1: 04:38 And the world health organization has called on governments worldwide to ban the practice and some have, uh, have, but within the United States, only New York and now California are in the process of banning it. Do we know why the United States has been so slow to ban the practice? I think this issue has largely been kept secret. I mean, before I, before I pursued this reporting, there had been absolutely no reporting on it. And the only reason why I pursued it was because I was looking into a story in Afghanistan about women in the North of the country who had been imprisoned for failing virginity exams. And I started to reach out in the U S seeing if this was happening at all. And what I found was that it was, but it was almost entirely kept secret. Are there any medical organizations that provide guidance to physicians on whether or not to conduct these so-called virginity tests?
Speaker 1: 05:26 Right now, no. Medical organizations provide clear guidelines on frigidity testing or, or hymen a plasti is, which are, um, plastic surgery in order to, uh, recreate a high men and girls and women. Um, but right now, no medical organizations provide guidance, which, which leads to a lot of gray area. When physicians are asked to perform these exams, only two States have had proposed legislation that would ban, uh, virginity testing. So this leaves a lot of gray area, the country in which physicians have to determine whether or not they should perform an exam or what they should actually do to protect girls and women. And you spoke to physicians who have been asked to perform this so-called test on their patients. Um, what did they tell you about their experiences? I spoke with quite a few physicians who had been asked for form Hyman exams and some of them said that they honestly didn't know how to respond.
Speaker 1: 06:23 And so some of them actually did perform the exams. Some did not and used it as sort of an educational opportunity. But others said that they've performed the exams because they worried if they didn't, it would actually lead to more harm for the girl or for the woman. Based on your reporting, what would you hope to see happen at least in the medical community in terms of guidance on this? A lot of experts in women's rights activists I've spoken with have said that, um, step one could be legislating, although there are a lot of opinions around that. But step two really needs to be education in schools. There needs to be good sexual education, which girls and boys are taught about the female anatomy and the high men and in communities and among the physicians. There needs to be better education around behind men in general.
Speaker 1: 07:09 And what's probably even more problematic is that a woman's worth isn't tied to her virginity, correct? Yes. I mean, in a lot of, in a lot of aspects, it really comes down to a woman's worth is tied to this, this small thing in her body that really has, um, uh, no importance whatsoever. I mean, uh, hymens come in all shapes and sizes. Some very few women are not born with hymens at all. And so that in court rooms and in doctor's offices, a woman's worth is defined by her high men is a deeply upsetting, and it doesn't have to be that way. I've been speaking with Sophia Jones and editor and journalist with the fuller project. Sophia, thank you very much. Thank you.
Speaker 2: 07:56 [inaudible].
Speaker 1: 00:00 The department of veterans affairs has banned smoking at its medical facilities, eliminating designated smoking areas at hospitals and clinics. The change went into effect for patients and visitors in October and as of January 1st it also includes employees. The VA is one of the last medical providers to ban tobacco and it's been a difficult transition for some veterans from Tampa. Stephanie Colombini reports for the American Homefront project,
Speaker 2: 00:30 70 year old air force veteran. Ronald West sits in his wheelchair just outside the fence that encloses the Tampa VA grounds. It's a cold day for Florida, so he's wearing a sweatshirt, a winter hat and is wrapped in a blanket. He lights up a Newport cigarette his second since wheeling himself out of his hospital room for a smoke. It was West third week there for a spinal cord injury and he says he comes out here a few times a day since he's no longer allowed to smoke on the property.
Speaker 3: 00:59 You're actually sucks. You had designated smoking areas and that's what the veterans are just inherent to. But now no smoking on the campus. Come on. [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 01:11 West isn't alone on this sidewalk. The hospital fence is lined with smokers, most sporting employee badges and wearing scrubs plus a few more patients. Army veteran, Tom Rogers comes to the VA for his lung disease and other medical needs. He was angry to find out about the Smokefree policy.
Speaker 3: 01:28 The British got lives in Vietnam over 50 years ago and they tell him that he cannot be shaker [inaudible]
Speaker 2: 01:35 patients aren't the only ones griping. When the VA announced the ban would also apply to staff, the American Federation of government employees filed a grievance saying it violates a union contract that allows workers to smoke in designated areas. The issue was not everyone was sticking to those areas. According to dr Don Johnson, she promotes smoking cessation at the Tampa VA. we had a lot of problems where patients would be walking in to their medical appointments and would have to walk through people smoking, replacing smoking areas or signs throughout the campus, informing people about the change. There are still smokers who miss the message, but when hospital police or staff like Johnson spot them, they asked them to put out their cigarette and offer quick cards. That list ways to get help. Eventually VA hospitals will enforce the policy with citations and fines, but many like Tampa's are taking time to educate first.
Speaker 2: 02:31 Some of our patients only come here once a year and if they didn't hear about it, we can hold them responsible for it. Smoking is already banned at thousands of other healthcare facilities. Research shows that improves public health and doesn't affect employer retention. Three other VA unions agreed to the change. Still smoking has long been connected with military culture. The centers for disease control and prevention says more than a third of veterans started using tobacco after they the service, although less than 15% who use the VA smoke. Now veteran Colleen Danielson was already smoking before she joined the Marines in the 80s but says it was a huge part of her life. I used it, I thought as stress management, you know, in the Marines we we, we got a few extra breaks for, you know, when we smoked outside a little bit more. Danielson quit cold Turkey years ago. Now she's a VA peer support specialist who helps other vets quit. The VA also offers counseling, a helpline and nicotine replacement products like patches and gum.
Speaker 3: 03:37 [inaudible].
Speaker 2: 03:37 The two veterans smoking on the sidewalk say they have no interest in quitting. Still both say the policy isn't going to stop them from going to the VA. Ronald West,
Speaker 3: 03:47 there's state rules and taking care of man. So you know, I'm following
Speaker 2: 03:53 health workers in Tampa. Say they're not asking every vet to quit smoking. Just do it on the other side of the fence. Joining me is reporter Stephanie Colombini with the American Homefront project in Tampa. And Stephanie, welcome to the program. Thank you. The VA San Diego health care system here also went to a smoke free campus back in October of last year. Can you explain a bit more why the designated smoking areas weren't working for the VA? Well, from what I heard from providers in Tampa, it was that they weren't really staying designated. It's kind of hard to enforce that out, especially on these big hospital campuses. So kind of wherever there might've been a picnic bench shore, um, you know, any place to congregate outdoors, people were smoking. And so, you know, while they tried to create these designated smoking areas in certain corners of the campus, it was, you know, kind of a free for all.
Speaker 2: 04:50 Even when I went to the Tampa campus after the ban had been implemented, you know, I saw some people around the parking lots and you know, walking around smoking and that's kind of part of what providers were saying. They're still in the education process and when, you know, they catch someone doing that, they inform them about the change, but it just shows that kind of people outdoors will smoke wherever they want. And so it was hard to enforce that designated area. It seems that change was met with the, some anger at the hospital you profile from both patients and staff. Yeah, and I noticed that kind of nationwide, I saw that in other cities and new England. Um, so different reports where, you know, vets were upset and a lot of it has to do with, you know, and what I heard from patients was I smoked in the military.
Speaker 2: 05:36 You know, I'm, one guy told me that we heard in the story, we were in Vietnam risking our lives and now you're telling me I can't have a cigarette. And so, you know, there was a lot of frustration, um, with staff. I kinda got some off the record bickering, but I think it was a little bit easier for, you know, employees to take their typical break and just take a walk outside the fence line and go smoke. I think with veterans it's a little more personal. Um, and there is that one union that is challenging. Um, this ban not really successfully so far, but there are three other unions that did go along with this policy. So it's kind of a mixed bag with um, employees studies that show. Um, I've seen studies that look at how, um, hospitals that have put in smoke-free campus policies, how that's gone.
Speaker 2: 06:24 Um, usually it does have majority support with patients and staff. So you know, you would expect the smokers would be the ones that are quick to gripe, but the people that don't smoke are happy about it. How far away from the hospital campus do the smokers have to go to light up? Really depends where you are located. It's a huge campus. So a lot of buildings. So if you're in one of those buildings right near, um, cause there's really one side of the perimeter that is easy to sort of access the street and you're standing on the sidewalk and it's normal everywhere else. You're either bordering, you know, an apartment complex or shopping's you know, it's not easy to just get out the fence. So if you were on that one side of the perimeter, maybe it's like a five minute walk. But if you're talking about being on the other corner of campus, that's quite a hike.
Speaker 2: 07:13 Right. And it must be difficult for nurses and doctors to watch a 70 year old patient in a wheelchair go out in the cold to smoke cigarettes. Is there any kind of intervention they might use to stop those cravings in the hospital? There is um, I talked to, uh, dr Don Johnson who leads the smoking cessation programs at the Tampa VA said for years the VA has offered nicotine replacement to patients that, you know, they're inpatient, they can't get out of their bed. They're probably going to be starting to go through nicotine withdrawals. There are laws and judges, there's patches, other forms of nicotine replacement to help curb those cravings within the hospital as well as counseling and whatever patients may need. But at the same time, you know, patients do have the right, if a 70 year old patient is able to get around on his own and is saying, look, I have no interest in quitting.
Speaker 2: 08:08 I don't want your nicotine replacement, then you know, they can't stop him from going out for a quick smoke. Do we have any idea how successful the VA programs have been in getting veterans to stop smoking? I saw some figures from 2016 that said about 25% of veterans went through, um, who have gone through the VA programs did quit successfully. It wasn't clear. You know, which method they use, whether it was a mix of nicotine replacement and counseling or one designated program. But I have seen about, um, that was the one figure I did see was uh, 25% providers I spoke with said, you know, it is a solid mix and it, the amount of VA users, um, veterans who use the VA who 14% is much lower than the 30% figures we hear from the CDC of how many veterans in general smoke. So, you know, they like to think that that is due to some of the resources that they offer. And I'm sure it is to a certain extent, but it's hard to say which veterans aren't just quitting cold Turkey or aren't seeking the VA to help with that process.
Speaker 1: 09:19 You referenced a veterans saying, uh, I went into the military, I learned how to smoke there. I risked my life. I'm, I'm entitled to smoke. Is smoking as connected with military culture now as it used to be?
Speaker 2: 09:33 I would say no. And because, and smoking in general, I think with, you know, civilian culture has not been what it used to be. But, um, the latest figures I've seen from the DOD was I believe 2011 was less than a quarter of active duty military, uh, smoke. I would imagine during the days of world war II, Vietnam that figure was much higher. Um, one thing I that came up in my research that was interesting and I think has a lot to do with maybe this increasing disconnect between smoking in the military and, and kind of the department of defense taking an active role in this up until 2016 was when the defense secretary issued a memo saying that cigarettes sold on military basis had to be, you know, competitive with the community, whatever the price was in that, you know, city or town is what the cigarettes needed to be.
Speaker 2: 10:26 So for prior to that, you could get cigarettes on a military base for next to nothing, you know, almost half of what it would cost, market rate. And so that was a big contributor. Even veterans who had access to the base could go there to get cheap cigarettes. And so, you know, um, the centers for disease control says that the cost of smoking is one of the biggest deterrent to, you know, if you want to get people to quit, raise the price, make it economically impossible for them to smoke, that's one of the most successful ways you can combat smoking addiction. And so by the department taking that step. Um, I've seen reports that the sales of cigarettes have dropped almost 50% in some branches of the military. Um, so I don't have the exact numbers for each branch, but we have seen a reduction in the amount of cigarette purchases, and I'm sure that's because the price is higher.
Speaker 1: 11:16 Interesting. I've been talking with reporters, Stephanie Calambini, with the American Homefront project and Stephanie, thank you.
Speaker 2: 11:24 Thank you.
Speaker 1: 00:00 The discovery of dinosaur bones has been increasing in recent years as both technology and search efforts improve around the world. But it's still rare to discover a new species of dinosaur. A paleontologist at San Diego natural history museum is one of a team of scientists who has discovered and identified a brand new type of dinosaur. The find is being published today in the peer review journal. The anatomical record journeyman is a member of that scientific team. Dr. Ashley post of the San Diego natural history museum. And Ashley, welcome to the program. Hi, pleasure to be here. Now tell us the backstory. If you would have this new dinosaur species, where was it originally found and how did you come to work on it? There's a part of Northern China which sort of abuts the border with the Koreas called Liaoning province. And in the mid nineties, there started to be a number of really interesting discoveries there.
Speaker 1: 00:55 Um, and there was a buzz about this in the paleontological community. These were dinosaurs with feathers and not birds with feathers. Cause as we know and as our kids off to remind us, dinosaurs, uh, gave rise to the birds, which means the birds themselves are actually the survivors of that mass extinction. They themselves are dinosaurs, but these were proper not bird dinosaurs that had feathers. Um, and so in recent years, this has been really a growth industry in the dinosaur community. Uh, there's a lot of really interesting information about this transition has come out of this part of China. So a number of years ago, um, this specimen that I got the chance to work on was discovered and, uh, given to the Dallian museum of natural history, which is, uh, in the capital of this province. Um, and my advisor for my master's, which I was doing at the time at Montana state university, uh, had good contacts with that museum and they'd worked together on a number of projects.
Speaker 1: 01:50 So dr Dave Rickio, um, at MSU was, uh, able to have a discussion with their, uh, curators. And they invited me to come work on a specimen. And at the time we didn't know that it would turn out to be this new species. What is the name of this new species? So we named it long Bohai ANSYS, uh, oolong means the dancing dragon and we sort of named it that because we wanted a name that was Chinese. Um, and the suffix long meaning dragon is something that has sort of been the Chinese version of Saurus if you've heard of a brachiosaurus or train of stories. Um, that terrible lizard ending has been really common, um, in naming dinosaurs. And as these dinosaurs became famous from China, um, the Chinese suffix, uh, has sort of taken over and the, the dancing part comes because not only is this a tiny dinosaur, it's about the size of a house cat.
Speaker 1: 02:41 Um, but it also was probably very nimble and quick on its feet, um, and also on its wings and it had feathers on its front limbs and its back limbs. This is a quick little animal and, uh, the way that it's preserved, we have the whole skeleton, um, looks as though it's doing a Russian dance and throwing its head back in the, of, of it's joyful pose. So we wanted something that reflected that. Um, that gracile nature. No, this is an extremely old species. How does it compare in age with the more well known T-Rex? So this animal is about 120 million years old. Um, so that's younger. Uh, then the oldest birds. Um, so this is, uh, a branch, a sister, uh, two, two birds. Um, it's not a direct ancestor, um, and it's almost twice as old as transfer Shrek. So if you think that's old, then we're doubling down on that.
Speaker 1: 03:30 What can you see in a fossil that's that old? Actually the preservation is incredible. So not only do we have the feathers, which I already mentioned, um, but we actually have the, uh, the nails so often the bones of the tips of the toes and fingers of uh, extinct animals are preserved, but just like your fingernails, um, their claws tend to rot away. But the preservation in these Lake beds in this area of China is so good that, um, those Kratos structures are, are actually still there. And also the inside of the bones is so well preserved and we look at the inside of the bones, um, by cutting them open and looking at them under a microscope. And that's why it's so important that the preservation is good cause we can actually see where the original bone cells were and how the bone itself grew, which lets us understand a lot about the growth of these animals.
Speaker 1: 04:17 Is there any way you can explain to a non paleontologist how you know that this is a new species? Yeah. So when we're, when we're comparing dinosaur species or any extinct species or even living species, what we look for is actually a combination of the similarities to other animals and then the differences. And so the similarities let us understand which animals they're closely related to. Um, and the differences allow us to determine if there's different enough that it's useful to give it a new name. And so this animal has a number of really interesting features. Um, some of them are very specific anatomical differences, lengths of bones and larger or smaller processes on those bones. Uh, and some of them are pretty clear. Um, one thing that's really weird about this animal is that it has two really long, um, tail feathers, sort of like a quetzal that South American bird with the extraordinarily narrowly long plumes.
Speaker 1: 05:13 Um, these long tail feathers, uh, may or may not change as the animal grows, but they are really distinct and um, no other dinosaur that we know of has these in isolation. Does this discovery give you a window into what earth was like 120 million years ago? So this was a time that was actually a little bit cool for the Cretaceous. Cretaceous is the last of the periods of the time of dinosaurs lasted for many millions of years. And in that time you had periods of climate change where it got warmer or cooler, but as a whole it was much warmer than today. However, this time period where we are discovering all of these birds and dinosaurs with feathers and these other flying animals pterosaurs with fluff on them, a little mammals that also have for seems to be a time that was cooler, at least in this part of Asia.
Speaker 1: 05:57 Then the rest of this long period at the end of the time of dinosaurs. So we think that there might be some connection between the growth of these external features that may be helped the animals move around or keep warm, um, and this temperature change. But that link is not clear yet. And so those are just the questions that are raised by continuing to find more and more of these animals. We're also really interested in the ecosystem that we're discovering. And this is one of the most diverse ecosystems we've ever discovered. And there seemed to be two reasons for that. One is that the Lake bed is so good at preserving these fossils, so we're just finding a lot more of what was actually there. And the second reason might be that this seems to be a very rich environment. And so there may have been a lot of things that we're doing, just slightly different ways of making the living to fit into, um, this tightly packed ecosystem.
Speaker 2: 06:46 Now, where is the fossil that you worked on? Where is that now?
Speaker 1: 06:50 So even though I'm at the Nat, uh, the San Diego natural history museum, um, and I worked on this fossil while I was a student at Montana state and then later, uh, at Berkeley, I, uh, obviously kept take this fossil away from the Chinese and I wouldn't want to. So it's, um, currently held at the Dali natural history museum in China.
Speaker 2: 07:08 As I mentioned early, the rate of dinosaur discoveries has apparently been increasing over the last five years. Have we been learning a lot more about dinosaurs because of these discoveries?
Speaker 1: 07:18 So I think there's this perception that the era of dinosaur discoveries was in the 18 hundreds. I think there's a lot of, uh, things that go into that. Um, but this image of the rugged 18th century man in a crazy getup with a big pic, it's not entirely wrong, but it's, it's definitely not the modern image of paleontology. This is a golden age for paleontologists and the increase in the varying types of people that are getting involved in paleontology, the coworkers that we have internationally. Um, as well as some new methods have made this one of the best times to work on dinosaurs in all of our experience. More dinosaurs were named in the last five years than any other five period, five year period in history. And though there were no, none other of these little Raptor dinosaurs like the one that we described, uh, described in the last year. Um, there were in the year before that and the year before that. And so, um, this is really a time when, when dinosaur exploration rather than decreasing is actually blossoming.
Speaker 2: 08:19 I've been speaking with paleontologist, Dr. Ashley post with the San Diego natural history museum. You can see a report on this new dinosaur discovery and look at that fossil tonight at five on KPBS television's evening edition. Ashley, thanks so much.
Speaker 1: 08:34 Oh, it's a pleasure to be here.
The wait is over. The U.S. House of Representatives has transmitted the Articles of Impeachment to the Senate and selected Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler as prosecutors for the impeachment trial. Plus, after the Internet uproar over rapper T.I’s admission that he takes his daughter to the gynecologist for a yearly virginity test, San Diego Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, last week, introduced a bill that would make such a practice illegal. Also, the V.A.’s new smoking ban, while hailed by health advocates, is making it a difficult transition for some patients, visitors and workers. And, dinosaurs have been extinct for more than 65 million years but one San Diego paleontologist helped to discover a new species of microraptors that is 120 million years old. Finally, San Diego History Center is embarking on a major project to scan historical photos of Black life in San Diego and preserve them for posterity.