Data-grabbing toys expose American children to hidden dangers

This past Christmas, American parents spent an average $330 on gifts for each child. Many of these gifts were tech-oriented gadgets – with so-called “eyes” and “ears” with sensors capable of picking up on sensitive information.

A new report published by ParentsTogether, a nonprofit organization that covers issues impacting children and families, show how many of the gifts pose a danger to the well-being of American youths.

The report, tilted “The Dangerous Tech Toys Report 2022,” is divided into four sections: products marketed to preschoolers, elementary schooler, teens and one that impact kids of all ages.

The authors argue no device created for young people that connects to the internet “can be made completely safe,” largely because “tech companies haven’t designed their products with children’s safety in mind.”

In the preschoolers category, the report authors zeroed in on eKids Paw patrol Walkie Talkies.

One of the potential dangers …

University dumps art history professor after voluntary lesson about Muslim depictions of Muhammad

A private university in Minnesota known for its social justice roots is facing an outcry from academic and artistic freedom activists after it declined to renew the contract of a professor who showed an art history class centuries-old depictions of Muhammad to illustrate that Muslims have historically varying views on the prophet’s depiction.

Hamline University, whose home page links to a land acknowledgment to the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes, did not renew the unnamed adjunct’s contract after its top diversity official called the art lesson “undeniably … Islamophobic” despite letting students in the virtual class opt out of viewing the depictions.

Associate Vice President of Inclusive Excellence David Everett and President Fayneese Miller also confirmed they viewed the incident as a matter of academic freedom in a campus message, saying the professor nonetheless should have given precedence to “respect for the observant Muslim students in that classroom.”

The bulk …

After blowout gubernatorial victory, DeSantis continues to press heavily into U.S. culture wars

After a resounding re-election victory in the November election, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is delving even further into America’s increasingly bitter cultural wars.

In his initial 2018 race, DeSantis won against Democratic opponent Andrew Gillum by just 0.4%. In his 2022 re-election campaign, the Republican governor carried the race on a landslide, beating Democrat Charlie Crist by nearly 20 points.

That victory came after four years of DeSantis’s nonstop political crusading throughout the state, much of it at the forefront of hot-button cultural issues that many Republicans often opt to avoid.

Most prominent among those subjects has been LGBTQ politics, which DeSantis’s office has continued to press.

DeSantis Press Secretary Bryan Griffin said on Twitter in late December the administration was “actively investigating” reports of “a sexually explicit performance marketed to children” in the state, which multiple media outlets said referred to a “drag queen” show where children …

Down to the wire: McCarthy’s bid for House Speaker faces stubborn GOP opposition

As the House of Representatives plans to vote Tuesday for its next Speaker, current House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is desperately scrambling to secure enough support within his own party to claim the gavel.

A prospective speaker needs a minimum of 218 supportive lawmakers to hold the post. After the November midterm elections, Republicans claimed a total of 222 seats, leaving any Republican leader with little room to maneuver.

Five House Republicans have committed to opposing McCarthy’s leadership, including Reps. Matt Gaetza, Fla.; Andy Biggs, Ariz.; Bob Good, Va.; Ralph Norman, S.C., and Matt Rosendale, Mont.

Their stalwart opposition leaves McCarthy one vote shy of the gavel, assuming he could wrangle the support of every other House Republican, and could force him to turn to Democrats for support, a move his has remained reluctant to pursue.

Incoming House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, moreover, has …