Wednesday Reads: Good Day, Yes?

coffeeframe2Good Morning

Yesterday was a good day, at least for me and a few of the people I love. My daughter is feeling better from her staph infection, my friend out in the cornfields of Iowa got a new job with the Secretary of State’s office, my son is kicking the hell out of a football and this little chocolate puff I have waited months for is finally growing up.

Let’s get to this morning’s reads, here are the latest headlines…I won’t bother to quote from them for you because honestly it is the same old shit, ah…stuff.

This guy is disgusting:  Weiner admits more lewd conduct, vows to stay in New York mayoral race – The Washington Post

I secretly hope they name this kid Geoffrey, but my money is on James or George: Kate Middleton, Prince William emerge with royal baby: ‘We’re still working on a name’   – NY Daily News

Hey, talk about same old shit…only the country changes: General outlines options for U.S. intervention in Syria – CBS News

Meanwhile another rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up yesterday: Gulf of Mexico natural gas rig blew while completing ‘sidetrack well’ | NOLA.com

And, in Milwaukee, a jury has brought a guilty verdict in another unarmed black teen murder trial: John Henry Spooner gets life sentence in death of black teen | theGrio

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who fatally shot his unarmed teenage neighbor was sentenced to life in prison Monday, days after telling the court he killed the boy for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

John Henry Spooner’s home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected 13-year-old Darius Simmons as the thief. So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner’s own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting, and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

A jury found Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide last week, a conviction carrying a mandatory life sentence. The judge could have allowed for the possibility of parole after 20 years, but rejected that option, citing Spooner’s lack of remorse and desire to also kill the teen’s brother.

Okay, so I had to quote a bit of that story…

I’ve got another link from the Grio, this makes a lot of sense to me: Why breast cancer kills more black women: They’re sicker | theGrio

And while you read that article, think about the affect all the defunded Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing will have on those statistical averages of fatal cancer rates in black women.  Damn, it makes me so mad.

Shakesville blog has a post up about the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act decision, and how North Carolina is making the most out of it: Cool Democracy We’ve Got

The Supreme Court’s garbage voting rights decision last month paved the way for this shit: “North Carolina on Cusp of Passing Worst Voter Suppression Bill in the Nation.” Among the new requirements being proposed to access voting:

Implementing a strict voter ID requirement that bars citizens who don’t have a proper photo ID from casting a ballot.

Eliminating same-day voter registration, which allowed residents to register at the polls.

Cutting early voting by a full week.

Increasing the influence of money in elections by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 and increasing the limit every two years.

Making it easier for voter suppression groups like True The Vote to challenge any voter who they think may be ineligible by requiring that challengers simply be registered in the same county, rather than precinct, of those they challenge.

Vastly increasing the number of “poll observers” and increasing what they’re permitted to do. In 2012, ThinkProgress caught the Romney campaign training such poll observers using highly misleading information.

Only permitting citizens to vote in their specific precinct, rather than casting a ballot in any nearby ward or election district. This can lead to widespread confusion, particularly in urban areas where many precincts can often be housed in the same building.

Barring young adults from pre-registering as 16- and 17-year-olds, which is permitted by current law, and repealing a state directive that high schools conduct voter registration drives in order to boost turnout among young voters.

Prohibiting some types of paid voter registration drives, which tend to register poor and minority citizens.

Dismantling three state public financing programs, including the landmark program that funded judicial elections.

Weakening disclosure requirements for outside spending groups.

Preventing counties from extending polling hours in the event of long lines or other extraordinary circumstances and making it more difficult for them to accommodate elderly or disabled voters with satellite polling sites at nursing homes, for instance.

Emphasis original.

Go to the link to read more of what Melissa thinks about this crap… you can probably already surmise what her conclusion to the post said.

Ross Douchehat published a biggie yesterday, I have two links that tackle his latest opinion piece on abortion:

Your Handy Guide To Anti-Choice Concern Trolling – Lawyers, Guns & Money

Ross Douthat Abortion Texas – Cardinal Douthat’s Musings On Abortion -Charlie Pierce at Esquire

In the New York Times this week there was a very interesting article about generations climbing up the income ladder: In Climbing Income Ladder, Location Matters

A study finds the odds of rising to another income level are notably low in certain cities, like Atlanta and Charlotte, and much higher in New York and Boston.

The study — based on millions of anonymous earnings records and being released this week by a team of top academic economists — is the first with enough data to compare upward mobility across metropolitan areas. These comparisons provide some of the most powerful evidence so far about the factors that seem to drive people’s chances of rising beyond the station of their birth, including education, family structure and the economic layout of metropolitan areas.

Climbing the income ladder occurs less often in the Southeast and industrial Midwest, the data shows, with the odds notably low in Atlanta, Charlotte, Memphis, Raleigh, Indianapolis, Cincinnati and Columbus. By contrast, some of the highest rates occur in the Northeast, Great Plains and West, including in New York, Boston, Salt Lake City, Pittsburgh, Seattle and large swaths of California and Minnesota.

“Where you grow up matters,” said Nathaniel Hendren, a Harvard economist and one of the study’s authors. “There is tremendous variation across the U.S. in the extent to which kids can rise out of poverty.”

That variation does not stem simply from the fact that some areas have higher average incomes: upward mobility rates, Mr. Hendren added, often differ sharply in areas where average income is similar, like Atlanta and Seattle.

The gaps can be stark. On average, fairly poor children in Seattle — those who grew up in the 25th percentile of the national income distribution — do as well financially when they grow up as middle-class children — those who grew up at the 50th percentile — from Atlanta.

Geography mattered much less for well-off children than for middle-class and poor children, according to the results. In an economic echo of Tolstoy’s line about happy families being alike, the chances that affluent children grow up to be affluent are broadly similar across metropolitan areas.

There are interactive maps and other goodies at that link, please be sure to check it out.  One phrase that is used a lot in the article is “income mobility”

…earlier studies have already found that education and family structure have a large effect on the chances that children escape poverty. Other researchers, including the political scientist Robert D. Putnam, author of “Bowling Alone,” have previously argued that social connections play an important role in a community’s success. Income mobility has become one of the hottest topics in economics, as both liberals and conservatives have grown worried about diminished opportunities following more than a decade of disappointing economic growth. After years of focusing more on inequality at a moment in time, economists have more recently turned their attention to people’s paths over their lifetimes.

I will leave any commentary on this article to Dr. Dak.

Since I’ve got a link here from the New York Times, you will find this next read intriguing: New York Times Quotes 3.4 Men for Every Woman | The Jane Dough

When the New York Times broke the absolutely shocking news on Sunday that many college-aged women like to have sex, some ladies called for an end to “women’s stories” that do nothing but foster “worry” about women in society. However, before completely dismissing this genre of journalism, we need to realize that these “women’s stories” are some of the only stories where women are actually being quoted and being heard.

In January and February of this year, University of Nevada Las Vegas students Alexi Layton and Rochelle Richards, under the guidance of their professor Alicia Shepard, scoured the 325 front-page stories published in the New York Times and found that the paper quoted male sources 3.4 times more frequently than female ones. Even in areas that are perceived to be more female-dominated — style, arts, education, health, etc. — male sources vastly outnumbered female ones.

Perhaps this phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising since men continue to dominate newsrooms and the Times is no exception. Of the 325 stories published on the front page, 214 were written by men (65.8 percent); their stories mentioned four times as many male sources as female sources. Female reporters perpetuated the bias as well; of the 96 stories written by women, men were quoted twice as frequently as women. So, as Amanda Hess at Slate pointed out, “hiring more female reporters could help lift the Times’ sourcing ratio from terrible to just bad.”

Yup, more at the Jane Dough link…go read it.

Hey, down here in Georgia a Democrat has announce she is running for Saxby’s seat:

Michelle Nunn Enters 2014 Georgia Senate Race

How Michelle Nunn puts pressure on Georgia Republicans

Gee, I can only hope she has a chance…but I know how strong the redneck vote is, I mean how strong the red GOP vote is within the state.

Now for a few links that are more along the lines of special interest, or just plain non-newsy reads to start your day off right.

Fort Tells of Spain’s Early Ambitions

In the Appalachian foothills of western North Carolina, archaeologists have discovered remains of a 16th century fort, the earliest one built by Europeans deep in the interior of what is now the United States. The fort is a reminder of a neglected period in colonial history, when Spain’s expansive ambitions ran high and wide, as yet unmatched by England.

If the Spanish had succeeded, Robin A. Beck Jr., a University of Michigan archaeologist on the discovery team, suggested, “Everything south of the Mason-Dixon line might have become part of Latin America.” But they failed.

Researchers had known from Spanish documents about the two expeditions led by Juan Pardo from the Atlantic coast from 1566 to 1568. A vast interior seemed open for the taking. This was almost 20 years before the failure of the English at Sir Walter Raleigh’s “lost colony” near the North Carolina coast or their later successes in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607 and at Plymouth Rock in 1620 — the “beginnings” emphasized in the standard colonial history taught in American schools.

One of Pardo’s first acts of possession, in early 1567, was building Fort San Juan in an Indian town almost 300 miles in the interior, near what is known today as the Great Smoky Mountains. It was the first and largest of six forts the expedition erected on a trail blazed through North and South Carolina and across the mountains into eastern Tennessee. At times Pardo was following in the footsteps of Hernando de Soto in the 1540s.

Pardo was ordered to establish a road to the silver mines in Mexico…without maps or a true understanding of the New World’s geography, the belief at the time was that the Appalachians where the same mountain range that ran through central Mexico.

After years of searching, archaeologists led by Dr. Beck, Christopher B. Rodning of Tulane University in New Orleans and David G. Moore of Warren Wilson College in Asheville, N.C., came upon what they described in interviews as clear evidence of the fort’s defensive moat and other telling remains of Fort San Juan. The discovery in late June was made five miles north of Morganton, N.C., at a site long assumed to be the location of an Indian settlement known as Joara, where military artifacts and burned remains of Spanish-built huts were also found.

While excavating a ceremonial Indian mound at the site, the archaeologists encountered different colored soil beneath the surface. Part of the fort’s defensive moat had been cut through the southern side of the mound. Dr. Beck said that further excavations and magnetometer subsurface readings showed that the moat appeared to extend more than 70 to 100 feet and measured nearly 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep, in a configuration “typical of European moats going back to the Romans.”

In the area north of Banjoville, up into North Carolina they have found Spanish conquistador artifacts along the rivers, like helmets and various swords and axes and other weapons that have been dated back to de Soto. Also, some of the Indian tribes mention the Spanish visitors in their stories. Furthermore, many of the Spaniards settled in the area with the Cherokee Indians as well.  There’s some interesting history in these mountains, that’s for dang sure!

This next link is to a picture gallery: Broken dreams: Walker Evans’s 1930s Americana

New York molls, Negro churches and the barbershop home of Perfecto Hair Restorer … this enchanting series of photographs shows us 1930s America through the eyes of photographer Walker Evans as he travelled from Alabama to New York City, documenting life during the Great Depression. His images earned him the first solo exhibition ever to be held at MoMA in New York. Now, 75 years later, they’re back on public view, in Walker Evans American Photographs, which runs until 26 January 2014

Walker Evans: 42nd Street, New York, 1929

42nd Street, New York, 1929

And finally, what would all this history stuff be without a bit of Medieval nuggets thrown in?

Religious and Cultural Boundaries between Vikings and Irish: The Evidence of Conversion

Clare Downham

The March in the Islands of the Medieval West, Brill Academic Publishers, November 16 (2012)

Abstract

The Scandinavian migrations of the early Viking Age imprinted in European minds anenduring image of vikings as marauding heathens. As descendants of these ‘salt water bandits’ settled into their new homes, they adopted traits from their host cultures. One such trait was the adoption of Christianity. This was perhaps the biggest change whichaffected vikings in a colonial situation as it entailed a new system of belief and way of understanding the world. Vikings in Ireland have often portrayed as late converts, with christian ideas only taking hold over a century after vikings settled in the island. Nevertheless in this paper I seek to argue that vikings of Dublin began to adopt christianity at an early stage, although the process of conversion was protracted and possibly uneven across social ranks. The stereotype of Hiberno-Scandinavians as staunch heathens may need revision.

Ninth-century literature from Ireland expresses fear of vikings as slave-raiders and heathens. It was not however until the eleventh century that vikings ‘burst onto the Irish literary stage’ by which time (as Máire Ní Mhaonaigh has demonstrated) astereotype of heathen, plundering vikings had evolved which did not always reflectcontemporary realities. It is in accounts from the eleventh century and later that we get colourful descriptions of heathen activity linked with ninth-century vikings, for example the satirical account of the ‘druid’ Ormr who is hit by a stone and foretells his imminent death, or Auða, the wife of the viking leader Þórgísl, who was said to issue prophecies while seated on the altar at Clonmacnoise. These accounts were on the one hand meant to be entertaining, but on the other they were intended as negative publicity for contemporary viking groups which helped to justify their subjection to Irish kings.

To read the paper in full click the link here: The March in the Islands of the Medieval West

On the subject of Moons: The Night the Moon exploded and other Lunar tales from the Middle Ages

medieval moon

The Moon in the Nuremberg Chronicles

When writing about the events of the the year 1178 in his Chronicle, Gervase of Canterbury interrupts his account of kings and wars to relate a very unusual occurrence in the night sky:

This year on the 18th of June, when the Moon, a slim crescent, first became visible, a marvellous phenomenon was seen by several men who were watching it. Suddenly, the upper horn of the crescent was split in two. From the mid point of the division, a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out over a considerable distance fire, hot coals and sparks. The body of the Moon which was below, writhed like a wounded snake. This happened a dozen times or more, and when the Moon returned to normal, the whole crescent took on a blackish appearance.

This account has puzzled modern astronomers – some suggest that the monks saw an asteroid crashing into the moon, while others believe that it was a meteorite that had entered the Earth’s atmosphere at just the right spot – between the monks and the moon – making the observers believe that what they saw was happening on the moon.

For the monks who saw this phenomenon this event would be very worrying indeed. For medieval people the moon was an ever-present, fascinating and mysterious object. The moon not only brought light to the night sky, but it also marked the passage of time and could determine the personality of man or woman.

That particular blog post is full of cool things and drawings go read it because you will be amazed at some of the advanced discoveries during a time known as the “dark ages.”

Ooof, this post turned out longer than I had planned. Hope you have a great day, stay cool and please let us know what you are reading and thinking about this morning.


Evening Round-Up: BS and WTF?

Good falloutEvening…

My father is going off the deep end. I don’t know, he has become obsessed with the end of the world, the CDC’s stash of plastic coffins and Agenda 21. So tonight’s links will be a quick dose of reality…meaning, shit we should be concerned with.

Privacy…The Volokh Conspiracy » District Court Grants Motion to Suppress After Government Uses “The Shadow” to Locate Laptop Using Unsecured Wireless Network  (Fourth Amendment? Drawing the line or crossing it?)

Austerity…What Austerity Brings  (It sure doesn’t bring about anything good.)

Indefinite detention, and “unlawful pretrial punishment”…The Prosecution’s Argument for Why It Didn’t ‘Unlawfully Punish’ Bradley Manning  (And why is it that FDL’s coverage of the Manning trial uses images from Beavis and Butthead?)

Minorities…Black, Hispanic Teens Most Disconnected, New Report Says  (Nothing new here, carry on…)

Boehners…Obama Rejects Boehner Fiscal Cliff Plan  (Boehner = The tangerine ass clown.)

Boneheads…Rush Limbaugh: Planned Parenthood “Is All About The Elimination Of Black Families”  (My girlfriend who lives among the corn was going on about this a couple weeks ago.)

Protection of our precious bodily fluids…Tracy Bloom: GOP’s Doomsday Fiscal Cliff Plan, Cory Booker’s Food Stamp Challenge, and More  (Okay, that last one is an attempt to joke about Dr. Strangelove…we certainly don’t want a mineshaft gap!)

This is an open thread…


Seriously Perverted

You don’t really have to be a “birth control mom” to understand that the Republican and Red Beanie obsession with other people’s sex lives is just plain wrong.  Trying to turn the reproductive

with apologies to R Crumb

health of women into a moral and religious freedom issue is one of the worst perversions of our time.  I no longer require birth control but recognize the importance of birth control and abortion access as central to the recognition of women as a functioning adult capable of making moral decisions in a free and functioning democracy with constitutional rights.  Women’s Reproductive Health is not a fucking political football.

Just a few weeks ago, the notion would have seemed far-fetched. The country is deeply divided on abortion, but not on contraception; the vast majority of American women have used it, and access hasn’t been a front-burner political issue since the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965.

But then Rick Santorum said states ought to have the right to outlaw the sale of contraception.

And Susan G. Komen for the Cure yanked its funding for Planned Parenthood.

And the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops teed off on President Barack Obama’s contraception policy.

And House Republicans invited a panel of five men — and no women — to debate the issue.

And a prominent Santorum supporter pined for the days when “the gals” put aspirin “between their knees” to ward off pregnancy.

Democratic strategist Celinda Lake says it’s enough to “really irritate” independent suburban moms and “re-engage” young, single women who haven’t tuned into the campaign so far.

And, she says, the stakes are high: Women backed Barack Obama in big numbers in 2008 but then swung right in 2010. If the president is to win reelection in 2012, he’ll need to win women back — and Lake and other Democrats see the GOP push on contraception as a gift that will make that easier.

“I feel like the world is spinning backwards,” said former Rep. Patricia Schroeder, who has often related the troubles she has as a young married law student getting her birth control prescriptions filled in the early 1960s. “If you had told me when I was in law school that this would be a debate in 2012, I would have thought you were nuts … And everyone I talk to thinks so, too.”

Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, also sees the chance of a huge female backlash if the Republicans overreach.

There are so many things about this article in Politico–by a woman–that piss me off that I hardly know where to start.  The first is the bogus description of  “deep division” in the country about abortion.  The only deep division that I can see comes from the right wing continually pushing lies like the existence of abortion on demand hours before giving birth and bogus, nonexistent procedures like “partial birth abortion.” 

The frustration of the right wing over their inability to control access to Plan B, hormonal birth control and first trimester abortions is at the root of all this.  The push to force sonograms, invasive vaginal probes, and “life” begins at the moment of conception religous tropes is building to a crescendo. If only the red beanie set were this obsessed about ending world hunger or nuclear war or ensuring universal health care. The vast majority of women have basically had, are having, are using or will use all three of those things.  To characterize normal reproductive health measures as murder and anti-religious is ridiculous.  But I’d like to add this warning, if the political and punditry class on either side think they can turn us all into a new voting segment, I think they’re also going to learn the meaning of the word backlash.  Women’s reproductive health shouldn’t be trapped in the land of political gamesmanship. Just who the hell are they to score political points with women’s lives??

Read the rest of this entry »


Evening News Reads 020612: Black and Unwanted and Prop 8 Ruling

Vintage clothing ad

Good Evening…

So many newsy links for you today, I don’t know where to begin. I guess we will start with the news out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

BREAKING: Ninth Circuit Prop 8 Ruling on Tuesday — A Guide to Understanding What’s Happening – Poliglot

The long anticipated appeals court ruling is expected to address three issues: (1) whether former U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from hearing the case because he is gay and had a long-time partner with whom he was not married; (2) whether the proponents of Proposition 8 have the right to appeal Walker’s decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional when none of the state defendants chose to do so; and (3) whether, if Walker did not need to recuse himself and the proponents do have the right to appeal, Walker was correct that Proposition 8 violates Californians’ due process and equal protection rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

You can read the background at that link above. Here is a bit of information on what will happen when the decision is published.

On Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit is expected to rule on the questions of Walker’s recusal and the proponents’ standing. The court, if it holds that recusal was not necessary and that the proponents do have standing, will address the constitutionality of Proposition 8. As the public information office is not the court’s judges, its words are not law, but today’s notice does gloss over the standing question, which would make it appear that the court is likely to find that the proponents do have standing — which was to be expected in light of the California Supreme Court’s decision on that matter.

[UPDATE @ 5:30P: As the Ninth Circuit previously had issued a stay of the trial court's judgment pending appeal, there is no reason to think that the court's opinion -- should it affirm the unconstitutionality of Proposition 8 -- will take effect immediately. The judges almost certainly will issue a stay of their decision to allow the proponents to decide whether they will appeal such a decision.]

It is a rather long piece so give it a look.

I am going to stick with Federal Appellate Court rulings for a moment. Specifically the recent decision regarding sonograms prior to abortion in the state of Texas. Judge lets songram law take effect – Houston Chronicle

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks declined to stop a new sonogram law from taking effect in a ruling Monday that indicates his hands were tied by an appellate court.

“There can be little doubt that (the law) is an attempt by the Texas Legislature to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions,” Sparks wrote in his decision.
“It appears the (three judge appellate court panel) has effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment in the abortion context,” and “in no other medical context does the government go so far in telling doctors what they must, and must not, do,” Sparks said in the ruling.
Sparks granted a temporary restraining order last fall, which kept the law from taking effect, but three judges from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals last month overturned Sparks, who was appointed to the federal bench by President George H.W. Bush.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit last summer…

“It is a terrible injustice that Judge Sparks could not rule in favor of protecting the constitutional rights of Texas doctors because of the Fifth Circuit panel’s decision,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We urge the full Fifth Circuit to consider Judge Sparks’ sound legal analysis when reviewing our request for a new hearing.”

Aside from the utter ridiculous nature of these laws and legislation against women, the frightening thing is that courts are upholding them. WTF?

Then you have crap like this: House GOP Memo: “Abortion Is the Leading Cause of Death in the Black Community” | Mother Jones

You may remember the billboards in ATL last year…

black and unwanted
Anti-abortion billboards in Atlanta sparked a nationwide controversy last year as Georgia tried to pass a law outlawing abortion on the basis of race.

Well check out the latest GOP memo…

A House GOP memo obtained by Mother Jones argues for a controversial “prenatal discrimination bill” by referring to “black abortions” as distinct from abortions in general and claiming that “abortion is the leading cause of death in the black community.” The memo (PDF) was circulated by Republicans on the House judiciary committee on Monday in advance of Tuesday’s markup of Rep. Trent Franks’ (R-Ariz.) Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act.

Franks’ bill, which is also known as H.R. 3514, didn’t make it out of committee when it was introduced in the last Congress. But the fact that it’s now receiving a markup—a key step on the way to a floor vote—and that 78 cosponsors have signed on suggests that it could proceed to a vote of the full House before November’s elections. In addition to banning abortions based on the race or gender of the fetus, H.R. 3514 would give a woman’s family members the ability to sue abortion providers if they believed an abortion was obtained based on race or sex. Critics warn that it would be next to impossible to prove that an abortion was obtained on the basis of race or gender and fear the provision could lead to nuisance suits against abortion providers by family members who are opposed to abortion on principle.

In Georgia, they tried to pass a bill that made abortion a crime due to race…fortunately, it ran into problems.

Stephanie Mencimer reported:

The campaign started with controversial billboards, which began popping up in the state after President Obama was elected. They featured a photo of a beautiful, sad black baby boy and the line: “Black children are an endangered species.” Anti-abortion activists claimed to be out to save the black community from genocide at the hands of Planned Parenthood.

“The most pernicious part was, they’re trying to hijack the civil rights legacy in the service of conservative causes, trying to appropriate the mantle of the civil rights movement in a really despicable way,” says Loretta Ross, the national coordinator of SisterSong, a reproductive justice organization for women of color in Atlanta. She says the effort even featured white people singing “We Shall Overcome” at black women as part of a pro-life “freedom ride” bus tour that stopped at Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Jr. Center.

The MoJo article has an update, as follows:

Adam Serwer notes that the essay the Republican memo cites as evidence that “a thorough review of the American family planning movement reveals a history of targeting African-Americans for ‘population control’” is actually a thorough debunking of arguments like those in the memo that argues the opposite point. Here’s a choice excerpt:

Activists are exploiting and distorting the facts to serve their antiabortion agenda. They ignore the fundamental reason women have abortions and the underlying problem of racial and ethnic disparities across an array of health indicators. The truth is that behind virtually every abortion is an unintended pregnancy. This applies to all women—black, white, Hispanic, Asian and Native American alike. Not surprisingly, the variation in abortion rates across racial and ethnic groups relates directly to the variation in the unintended pregnancy rates across those same groups.

Also, it’s worth noting, as Jill Lepore did in her excellent New Yorker essay on Planned Parenthood in November, that prominent black Americans such as Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. were supportive of birth control and family planning, and the history of race and abortion in America is more complicated than the GOP memo would lead you to believe.

Go to the link to read the memo in its entirety, sigh…

From Valerie Jarrett: Securing Equal Pay? There (Should Be) an App for That!

Last week, the Obama Administration launched the Equal Pay App Challenge. We’re inviting software developers to help women ensure that they’re being paid fairly — which in turn will help restore an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules.

Right now, if you’re a woman in the workforce, it can be surprisingly difficult to answer basic questions about equal pay: what’s the typical salary for someone in your position? Should you be asking for more at the negotiating table? What are your fundamental legal rights?

Blah Blah Blah, sorry but until Hillary Clinton starts her full-time advocacy for women…this is all talk, and nothing else.

Jarrett continues:

President Obama envisions an America where his daughters are never limited by their gender. That vision is not yet a reality, and we still have a long way to go. But if we work together — and we invite America’s most creative innovators to join us in tackling this challenge — then I am confident that we will get there.

Yeah…right!

You honestly believe we will “get there” when all the crappy anti-women legislation is getting passed or upheld. Get real!

Since there are so many links for you tonight, I will just give you a list…

The use of drone warfare is becoming more and more popular, and with that, comes the use of drones in civilian situations. Civilian drones to fill the skies after law shake-up – tech – 03 February 2012 – New Scientist

The FAA is planning to unveil a new set of rules this summer regarding these UAVs.

Speaking of the FAA: Senate sends FAA bill to Obama’s desk – The Hill’s Transportation Report The House previously approved the bill…

There is a disturbing story about a teenager’s journal entry after she murdered a young neighbor: Missouri teen describes killing girl, 9, as ‘enjoyable’ experience _ before heading to church – The Washington Post

A Missouri teenager who admitted stabbing, strangling and slitting the throat of a young neighbor girl wrote in her journal on the night of the killing that it was an “ahmazing” and “pretty enjoyable” experience — then headed off to church with a laugh.

In world news:

U.S. Closes Embassy in Syria as Mayhem Escalates – NYTimes.com

The United States closed its embassy in Syria on Monday and withdrew its staff in the face of escalating mayhem for which American officials blamed the Syrian government’s unbridled repression of an 11-month-old uprising.

Obama orders Iranian Central Bank freeze in new wave of sanctions | World news | guardian.co.uk

Barack Obama has ordered the freezing of Iranian government assets in the US, including transactions by the Iranian Central Bank, in tightened sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

The White House said the executive order by the president “re-emphasises this administration’s message to the government of Iran – it will face ever-increasing economic and diplomatic pressure until it addresses the international community’s well-founded and well-documented concerns regarding the nature of its nuclear programme”.

The new sanctions, which also include the threat of prosecution for foreign financial institutions if they do certain kinds of business directly with Iran, also appeared timed to fit in with measures introduced in other countries, including Britain which has already moved against Iran’s banking system by cutting it off from London’s financial sector.

This next link is fascinating: BBC News – Transplant jaw made by 3D printer claimed as first

A 3D printer-created lower jaw has been fitted to an 83-year-old woman’s face in what doctors say is the first operation of its kind.

The transplant was carried out in June in the Netherlands, but is only now being publicised.

The implant was made out of titanium powder – heated and fused together by a laser, one layer at a time.

Technicians say the operation’s success paves the way for the use of more 3D-printed patient-specific parts.

One more “science” link for you: Mating call of an extinct bush-cricket rings out again after 165m years | Science | The Guardian

A love song that carried on the wind through the ancient forests of the late Jurassic has been reconstructed by scientists in Britain.

Researchers pieced together the staccato mating call of the long-gone creature, a distant relative of the modern bush-cricket, from fossilised remains unearthed in Mongolia.

The audio file is there at that link…cool isn’t it?

And finally: Spaghetti western reveals differences between human and monkey brains | Mo Costandi | Neurophilosophy blog | Science | guardian.co.uk

Monkeys are closely related to us and their brains have long served as an indispensable model for understanding how our own brain works. But we’re separated from each other by millions of years of evolution, so there are some major differences between their brains and ours. On the one hand, we can’t assume that the results from experiments on their brains can be generalized to humans. But on the other, a better understanding of our differences can provide important clues about the evolutionary forces that shaped the human brain.

A new method may help to overcome some of the difficulties in comparing the human and monkey brains. To test the method, researchers scanned the brains of humans and macaque monkeys while they watched Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Their results, published in the journal Nature Methods, reveal a number of surprising differences between the functional architecture of the human and macaque brains.

Oh, I think those PLUBs that are pushing all the anti-woman crap down our throats need to read this article.

In a 2004 study, Uri Hasson and colleagues used functional magnetic resonance to scan the brains of five participants as they watched a 30 minute clip from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. They found that the film activated widespread regions of the cerebral cortex, especially in the visual and auditory parts of the brain, and that the activation patterns were remarkably similar in all of them. This high degree of synchronicity led the researchers to the conclusion that films can make their viewers’ brains tick collectively; it also led to a new field called “neurocinematics,” which aims to assess the similarities in participants’ brain responses during film watching.

Based on these earlier findings, Hasson and his colleagues therefore hypothesized that this might hold true not only for comparisons between humans, but also across species. The new method – called interspecies activity correlation – therefore builds on these earlier findings, and extends the approach to examine the extent to which the brain activation patterns observed in humans correspond to those of monkeys.

They recruited 24 human participants, and used functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan their brains as they watched the same film clip. This confirmed that the film clip evoked the same pattern of brain activity in all the participants, as in the 2004 study. They then did the same with four macaque monkeys, each of which was shown the same clip six times, and found that all four animals also exhibited the same activity patterns as each other across multiple viewings. Next, the researchers compared the activity patterns they observed in the human participants with those of the monkeys, focusing on 34 distinct regions the visual cortex.

In both species, visual information is processed in a hierarchical manner. The earliest stages of visual processing take place in the primary and secondary visual cortical areas, often referred to simply as V1 and V2, which contain cells that respond to the simplest features of a scene, such as contrast between adjacent areas of the visual scene and the orientation of edges. Each successive stage of processing encodes increasingly complex features, with higher order visual regions encoding complex features such as object categories.

The article is way to detailed for me to break it down..so just go and read it.

Tonight at 8PM EST, TCM is showing a great Alfred Hitchcock film called, Foreign Correspondent…from 1940. Foreign Correspondent (1940) – Overview – TCM.com

If you can, watch it…cause it is one damn good movie!

Catch y’all later…


Margaret Sanger: A Rebel With A Mighty Cause

A Book Review; Review of a Life

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure of catching Jean Baker, history professor at Goucher College, featured on BookTV.  Baker discussed her book ‘Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion,’ but more importantly connected the dots between the Right Wing’s attack on Sanger and the Pro-Choice, Family Planning movement.

A couple years ago while Glenn Beck hurled his diatribes, chalk boarding his twisted worldview on an unsuspecting public, he took Margaret Sanger to task.  Beck described Sanger as one of his ‘evil’ progressives, a woman dedicated to racism and the application of eugenics in America.

The attack startled me.  Why Sanger?  I knew she had spearheaded the whole idea of inexpensive, reliable contraception and that her family clinics and her own reputation had come under constant assault.  Anything and everything having to do with sexual behavior was taboo when Sanger began her work in the early, heady days of the 20th century. I also knew that Hillary Clinton had specifically mentioned Sanger as a personal hero.  At the time, I thought that was Beck’s aim—discredit Sanger, discredit Clinton.

Au contraire!

Though Hillary Clinton did, in fact, make it on the list of evil progressives [along with Teddy Roosevelt, Wilson, FDR, even Lindsey Graham and John McCain], the attack on Margaret Sanger had and continues to have far broader implications.  This is particularly true in any discussion of birth control, abortion and/or family planning and in the midst of a concerted effort to push a fetal personhood amendment to the fore.

The recent dustup between the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood is a case in point.  Women’s healthcare has become politicized.  We as women are discussed in a myriad of parts—our uteruses, our vaginas, our breasts, our reproductive capabilities.  Too often, our autonomy as full-fledged human beings, adults capable of thought and decision-making about our own destiny is dismissed, made secondary to the considerations of others.  Sadly, today’s opposition to female self-determination is the same that Sanger faced throughout her lifetime: men, who were convinced they had the right to an opinion and the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and other religious institutions that felt and continue to feel perfectly justified to chime in, making moral declarations, complete with Biblical arguments and opinions.

Young 'Maggie'

Professor Baker claims [and makes a very good argument] that the attack on Sanger’s work is also directly related to the attacks now being waged—female autonomy, the ability for women to direct their own reproductive lives.  But Sanger had an especially hard road to travel, introducing her radical vision on the heels of the Victorian era.

Whatever’s old is new again!

While reading Baker’s new biography, I was startled by the similarity of the arguments, the pitfalls, the myriad of excuses to block any and all reasonable discussion when it comes to reproductive freedom.  That being said, it’s hard to contemplate a time when the very discussion of or writing about birth control was considered perverse, pornographic and could end in jail time.  Such was the case in the early 20th century.

Sanger’s efforts were so reviled by the status quo and Catholic Church that she was forced to leave the country for a brief stay in the UK or face arrest. She faced continuous harassment and was eventually arrested for her public, relentless stands. But ironically, this woman who had a spotty formal education, no training in public speaking would become by age fifty, one of the most influential women in the world.

Why?  Because she would not stop.  Because she was totally gripped by a single, burning idea–women were entitled to information [sexual or otherwise] and had a right to be empowered when it came to their own bodies.

Her background was fertile for dissent, her family a template for radical reaction.  Born Margaret [Maggie] Higgins in 1879 in Corning, NY., she was the sixth child of 11 surviving children.  Her mother, a devout Catholic, died at the age of 48, suffering with tuberculosis, the scourge of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

But here’s a factoid that Sanger’s critics rarely mention: her mother had eighteen pregnancies during her short life.

Eighteen!

Sanger’s father, a stone carver who royally ticked off the Church with his firebrand criticisms of Rome’s dictates, found it difficult to provide for his huge, ever-growing family.  The family was poor, shanty Irish poor, with too many mouths to feed and an increasingly sick mother, made all the worse by cramped, squalid surroundings.

Though her impossible dream had been medical school, Sanger went to New York City following her mother’s death.  There she trained as a nurse and midwife and spent several years attending patients on the Lower East Side.  The living conditions in the tenements were appalling—cramped, rat-infested, devoid of anything approaching basic hygiene.  She watched scores of young immigrant women die of pregnancy-related complications and botched abortions [many self-performed].  And she listened to scores of these women beg attending physicians [when available], pleading for help to prevent back-to-back pregnancies, birthing more children than they were able to feed or care for.  To no avail.   From that experience, that massive wave of human suffering, the idea of birth control and family planning was born.

Sanger took the remedy upon herself.  Because no one else dared.

A prolific self-taught writer, Sanger traveled across America and was invited around the world to speak to the issue of contraception, sex education and reproductive services.  Her work became the basis for health clinics dedicated to the health and education of women.  She was, in fact, the mother of Planned Parenthood.

Ahhhh.  No wonder she’s on the enemies’ list.

So what are the arguments against Sanger? Read the rest of this entry »