Friday Reads

Good Morning!

I have a few odds and ends to share with you this morning.  The first comes from Slate: How to kill an abortion bill
Step one: Wait for a politician to say something stupid. Repeat.

Activists in other states that have successfully beat back anti-reproductive rights laws have noticed a similar pattern: A legislator says something terrible and condescending; women use social media to stoke nationwide outrage about the comment; and the legislators, cowed by the unexpected attention, back down.

Yup.  It’s got all your favorite hits including the asshole that compared women giving birth to livestock.  There’s a few more too.

But antiabortion legislators are actually on the defensive against angry constituents for a change, which means they have to explain themselves. And that means they’re often getting themselves into trouble for being a little too honest about their misogyny, like the Alaska Republican state representative who said, “I thought that a man’s signature was required in order for a woman to have an abortion,” only then to see mockery of an “abortion permission slip” ricochet around the Internet. Or the Wisconsin senator who just said that all women who can’t afford contraception need to do is Google it.

“Every time a politician says something terrible, people respond emotionally to that,” says Luther. “It makes people in Florida care about what’s happening in Idaho.” It was harder, she adds, to get people fired up about Utah’s mandatory waiting period, maybe because there was no single tweetable moment.

A 27 year-old homeless woman who was arrested for trespassing at–of all things–a hospital later died in jail.  If this isn’t a parable for our time, I don’t know what is. This is from Raw Story.

A woman who was suspect of abusing drugs and arrested for refusing to leave a hospital died of a blood clot shortly after being put in jail, according to St. Louis Today.

Anna Brown, a 29-year-old homeless African American woman, had gone to St. Mary’s Health Center in Richmond Heights, Missouri complaining of leg pain after spraining her ankle. Doctors performed an x-ray of her knees and an ultrasound, but detected no blood clots. She was given pain medication and discharged.

About eight hours later she returned to the hospital by ambulance complaining of abdominal pain. The hospital told her she had already been treated and discharged her again, but Brown refused to leave. When police officers arrived on another call, the hospital told them that Brown was claiming she “did not receive adequate medical attention and did not have to leave.”

The officers said they waited about three hours before a doctor told them Brown was healthy enough to be arrested.

Brown told the officers she could not stand, so they carried her by her arms and legs. Police suspected Brown was on drugs and left her laying [sic] in her cell on the ground.

About fifteen minutes later, a jail worker found her dead. An autopsy did not find any drugs in her system.

Yup. Nothing like being young, homeless and a woman that spells drug abuse and not to be taken seriously.  Alternet has another cautionary tale that’s a bit more metaphorical.  It’s about the Horrors of an Ayn Rand World.

In an Objectivist world, the reset button would be pushed on government services that we take for granted. They would not be cut back, not reduced — they would vanish. In an Objectivist world, roads would go unplowed in the snows of winter, and bridges would fall as the government withdrew from the business of maintaining them — unless some private citizen would find it in his rational self-interest to voluntarily take up the slack by scraping off the rust and replacing frayed cables. Public parks and land, from the tiniest vest-pocket patch of green to vast expanses of the West, would be sold off to the newly liberated megacorporations. Airplane traffic would be grounded unless a profit-making capitalist found it in his own selfish interests to fund the air traffic control system. If it could be made profitable, fine. If not, tough luck. The market had spoken. The Coast Guard would stay in port while storm- tossed mariners drown lustily as they did in days of yore. Fires would rage in the remnants of silent forests, vegetation and wildlife no longer protected by rangers and coercive environmental laws, swept clean of timber, their streams polluted in a rational, self-interested manner by bold, imaginative entrepreneurs.

Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan publicly worship Ayn Rand.  So did Allan Greenspan and of course, the Pauls.  Here’s a little something on that from the Harvard Political Review.  Check out Down with Tryanny to see how icky Cantor looked in high school with his quote “I want it when I want it.

I really hope you don’t have a student loan with Sallie Mae.  This article basically reaffirms my experience with the loan shark company.  Also, rates are low for all the banksters but they want higher rates for students. This is from ProPublica.

Bloomberg reported this week that some federally contracted debt collection agencies have been playing hardball with borrowers who are behind, insisting on payments the borrowers can’t afford — even when federal student-loan rules allow more leniency.

The debt collectors have an incentive to be tough.  As Bloomberg explains:

Under Education Department contracts, collection companies “rehabilitate” a defaulted loan by getting a borrower to make nine payments in 10 months. If they succeed, they reap a jackpot: a commission equal to as much as 16 percent of the entire loan amount, or $3,200 on a $20,000 loan.

These companies receive that fee only if borrowers make a minimum payment of 0.75 percent to 1.25 percent of the loan each month, depending on its size. For example, a $20,000 loan would require payments of about $200 a month. If the payment falls below that figure, the collector receives an administrative fee of $150.

The Department of Education is trying to balance its interest in helping struggling borrowers and stewarding taxpayer dollars, department spokesman Justin Hamilton told Bloomberg.

Striking that balance, it seems, hasn’t been easy. Consumer advocates chafed when President Obama, as part of a deficit-reduction plan promoted last fall, recommended allowing debt collectors to robo-call the cell phones of borrowers who fell behind on federal student loans and other debts to the government.

I’m trying to get mine consolidated over to the Department of Education.

One last story that just won’t go away. The Guardian reports that Apple factories in China are still unhealthy and ignoring labor laws.  Enjoy those Ipads and Ipods!

An audit of Apple’s Chinese factories details “serious and pressing” concerns over excessive working hours, unpaid overtime, health and safety failings, and management interference in trade unions.

In the most detailed public investigation yet into conditions at Foxconn factories in China, which assemble millions of iPhones and iPads each year, the independent Fair Labor Association found that more than half of employees had worked 11 days or more without rest.

More than 43% of workers reported experiencing or witnessing an accident at the three plants audited. Foxconn is China’s largest private-sector employer, and its activities have turned the coastal town of Shenzhen into the electronics workshop of the world.

Health and safety breaches found by auditors and published on Thursday included blocked exits, lack of or faulty personal protective equipment and missing permits, which the FLA said was remedied when discovered.

Despite several suicides, which raised the alarm two years ago, and an explosion that killed three workers last year, Foxconn still failed to consult workers on safety, with the committees “failing to monitor conditions in a robust manner”, the report found.

So, that’s what I’ve got for you this morning.  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?