Friday Reads

Good Morning!

bathing_beauty_striped_swim

Sorry this will be a little short. I have a friend from Ft. Worth visiting me, so my on-line time is a bit limited at the moment.  However, it’s been really hot and steamy so I have to say that it is a relief to stay inside and just watch the sun go down. I have no idea why anyone wants to extend the summer days in this kind of heat.

The biggest story of the week is that debt-ridden Detroit has filed for bankruptcy.

Detroit, the cradle of America’s automobile industry and once the nation’s fourth-most-populous city, filed for bankruptcy on Thursday, the largest American city ever to take such a course.

The decision, confirmed by officials after it trickled out in late afternoon news reports, also amounts to the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in American history in terms of debt.

“This is a difficult step, but the only viable option to address a problem that has been six decades in the making,” said Gov. Rick Snyder, who authorized the move after a recommendation from the emergency financial manager he had appointed to resolve Detroit’s dire financial situation.

Not everyone agrees how much Detroit owes, but Kevyn D. Orr, the emergency manager, has said the debt is likely to be $18 billion and perhaps as much as $20 billion.

For Detroit, the filing came as a painful reminder of a city’s rise and fall.

“It’s sad, but you could see the writing on the wall,” said Terence Tyson, a city worker who learned of the bankruptcy as he left his job at Detroit’s municipal building on Thursday evening. Like many there, he seemed to react with muted resignation and uncertainty about what lies ahead, but not surprise. “This has been coming for ages.”

Detroit expanded at a stunning rate in the first half of the 20th century with the arrival of the automobile industry, and then shrank away in recent decades at a similarly remarkable pace. A city of 1.8 million in 1950, it is now home to 700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets.

From here, there is no road map for Detroit’s recovery, not least of all because municipal bankruptcies are rare. State officials said ordinary city business would carry on as before, even as city leaders take their case to a judge, first to prove that the city is so financially troubled as to be eligible for bankruptcy, and later to argue that Detroit’s creditors and representatives of city workers and municipal retirees ought to settle for less than they once expected.

Some bankruptcy experts and city leaders bemoaned the likely fallout from the filing, including the stigma. They anticipate further benefit cuts for city workers and retirees, more reductions in services for residents, and a detrimental effect on borrowing.

endless-summer-full-flatThe strict Texas law put into place to stop women from exercising their constitutional right to abortion has begun to take its toll.

Planned Parenthood on Wednesday informed staff at three of its facilities in Texas that they would be closing, according to people familiar with the decision.

The three clinics are located in Bryan, Huntsville and Lufkin, Texas. They are closing in response to a new package of abortion restrictions signed into law on Thursday and funding cuts to Texas’ Women’s Health Program that were passed by the Texas state legislature in 2011. Out of the three Planned Parenthood clinics that are closing, only the Bryan clinic performs abortions.

“In recent years, Texas politicians have created an increasingly hostile environment for providers of reproductive health care in underserved communities. Texans with little or no access to health care services have been deeply affected by state budget cuts to programs provided by Planned Parenthood health centers and dozens of others that provided lifesaving cancer screenings, well-woman exams and birth control,” said Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.”

“The combined impact of years of budget cuts to women’s health care services and the dismantling of the successful Women’s Health Program will take affordable, preventive health care options away from women in Bryan, Lufkin and Huntsville — just as these policies have taken health care away from an estimated 130,000 others — when Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is forced to close these family planning health centers at the end of August,” she said.

Some anti-choice legislators are trying to make the recently passed Texas bill even worse.

On Thursday, three Texas Republicans filed a measure that would criminalize abortion services after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — which typically occurs around six weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they’re pregnant.

The Texas legislature is currently in the midst of a special session that was convened specifically to give lawmakers more time to consider abortion restrictions. The session will end on July 31. Until then, GOP lawmakers have been busy proposing a slew of anti-abortion bills in the hopes of being able to rush them through.

One of those bills, a measure to ban abortion after 20 weeks and shut down the majority of the states’ abortion clinics, has captured national attention over the past several weeks as thousands of Texans have rallied at the capitol in protest. The legislature gave final approval to that bill on Saturday, and Gov. Rick Perry (R) just signed it into law on Thursday morning. But that’s not enough to satisfy Reps. Phil King (R), Dan Flynn (R), and Geanie Morrison (R) — whofiled HB 59 on the same day that Perry signed the controversial abortion restrictions.

So-called “heartbeat” bills are so radical that they divide the anti-choice community. In addition to criminalizing the vast majority of abortions, they also mandate invasive ultrasound procedures for women seeking abortions. In order to detect a fetal heartbeat so early in a pregnancy, doctors typically have to use a transvaginal probe.

`Meanwhile, back in Virginia, the GOP candidate for Governor wants to reinstate the laws against oral sex!

In an unusual move, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), his party’s nominee for governor, launched a  new campaign website Wednesday highlighting his  efforts to reinstate Virginia’s unconstitutional Crimes Against Nature law. The rule, which makes felons out of even consenting married couples who engage in oral or anal sex in the privacy of their own homes, was  struck down by federal courts after Cuccinelli blocked efforts to bring it in line with the Supreme Court’s 2003  Lawrence v. Texas ruling.

The new site, vachildpredators.com, highlights 90 people identified “sexual predators” in Virginia who have been charged under the  law since the 2003 ruling, which held that states could not ban private, non-commercial sexual relations between consenting adults. Cuccinelli warns that these offenders “could come off Virginia’s sex offender registry if a Virginia law used to protect children is not upheld,” and identifies the sodomy law as only the “Anti-Child Predators Law.” While it is true that many sex offenders are charged under the Crimes Against Nature law, it is far from the only tool prosecutors have to  punish child predators.

 
dog-ladyIt is possible that some very wonderful paintings that were stolen in an art heist were destroyed by the thief’s mother in her home’s oven.

Did a cache of priceless stolen art go up in smoke in a Romanian village?

That’s what the art world is afraid of, amid reports that museum forensic specialists from Romania‘s National History Museum are analyzing ashes found in an oven in the village of the mother of the suspected heist ringleader.

The Associated Press reports that according to Ernest Oberlander-Tarnoveanu, the museum’s director, investigators found “small fragments of painting primer, the remains of canvas, the remains of paint” and copper and steel nails, some of which pre-dated the 20th century, in an oven in the village of Caracliu where Olga Dogaru lives. Mrs. Dogaru’s son was arrested in January in connection with the theft of seven paintings – including works by Matisse, Monet, and Picasso – from Rotterdam‘s Kunsthal museum last October.

So, that’s it’ from me today.  I’m going to spend some more time with my friend!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today!


Late Night Open Thread: Rabbit…Rabbit… Message…Message

Good Late Evening!

I’ve spent the night watching Who Framed Roger Rabbit? This film came out in 1988…can you believe it? I love this flick.

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”

So…According to this article in RH Reality Check, the phrase “Pro-Choice” is going to become a thing of the past. Honestly, I don’t like the new slogan. After “Pro-Choice”: What’s Next for Our Messaging?

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) recently announced that it would move away from “choice” language in its messaging. As PPFA President Cecile Richards argued, the term “pro-choice” no longer resonates with many younger advocates and voters, nor does it reflect the complexity of reproductive health decision making. But the move raises an important question that the movement now must answer: what’s next for our messaging?

During the recent media coverage surrounding Roe v. Wade’s 40th anniversary, the term “reproductive justice” was often cited as a framework that better appeals to young people since it encapsulates economics, race/ethnicity, environment, sexual orientation, and other contexts that affect access to reproductive rights. While many of us advocates welcome the opportunity to have a discussion about reproductive justice (RJ), it’s important to note that individuals in the media are often unclear about how to discuss RJ and may not fully grasp what it means.

I don’t think Reproductive Justice is going to help get the message across, and RJ sounds like a damn low-testosterone condition.

As communications strategist and full-spectrum doula Miriam Zoila Pérez noted in a recent post, “Reproductive justice isn’t a simple concept that can be explained in a sound bite. But because of that, it also better mirrors the complex world we live in than a label like pro-choice or pro-life ever could.” Furthermore, RJ isn’t an identity, so it isn’t a replacement for “pro-choice.”

The fact that Planned Parenthood, the biggest, most well-known reproductive health provider in the nation, is abandoning “pro-choice” terminology is a sign that the movement needs to find more relevant ways to talk about these issues—ways that better connect to people’s real-life experiences. When abortion access is under attack at the local, state, and federal levels, holding on to stigmatized messaging that doesn’t work inside or outside the Beltway is obstinate and myopic.

What do you all think about the phrase, Reproductive Justice?

moving away from “pro-choice” language won’t mean that discussions about abortion will be displaced. Many vocal RJ leaders and advocates do significant work on the ground to promote abortion access. But an RJ framework is more inclusive than that; it allows us to deconstruct the conditions that limit access to abortion, contraception, comprehensive sex education, and more.

Eesha Pandit of Men Stopping Violence and the National Network of Abortion Funds points out that even if we drop the term “pro-choice,” mainstream reproductive rights organizers won’t suddenly adopt the RJ framework. “On one hand, there’s the co-opting of ‘reproductive justice’ within reproductive rights and reproductive health communities. That’s problematic because it makes the real point of reproductive justice and the work that women of color have done in creating the framework, completely invisible. Just using the term ‘reproductive justice’ does not mean that the framework or the perspective is in an intersectional frame,” she told RH Reality Check. Changing language is irrelevant if the reproductive rights community doesn’t shift its approach. But introducing RJ as a framework can help the media make these important connections.

When I think of the word justice, I think of someone being a victim and looking for justice….why not just call it reproductive rights? Or find another word salad that can be made into a catchy acronym? I guess Pro-Choice isn’t going anywhere soon, but this “RJ” sucks.

Since I am enjoying this fabulous classic movie, just a couple of more links for you tonight.

This next link is also about messaging, on the GOP side: A muddled message gets messier and more mendacious

With the sequestration cuts just days away, Republicans have spent the last several focused on rhetoric instead of policy. By any sensible standard, GOP policymakers have invested no real effort on resolving the problem, and have instead devoted all of their energies in winning a public-relations fight once the sequester starts doing real damage.

And with this in mind, one might expect their message to be amazing. After all, once a political party gives up on governing and focuses solely on messaging, it’s stands to reason they’ll be pretty good at it.

And yet, Republicans’ sequestration message “is all over the place.” GOP leaders believe the sequester will be awful but they want to let it happen. The policy was integral to the Republican fiscal plan and it’s entirely the White House’s idea. When Republicans say the cuts will hurt, that’s fine; when Democrats say the cuts will hurt, it’s evidence of scare tactics.

And now Republicans are simultaneously convinced the cuts will hurt and help the economy.

One of Georgia’s brilliant </snark> representatives is spouting off a load of crap:

Rep. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), a likely U.S. Senate candidate, argued over the weekend that sequestration cuts “must” happen in order to “get this economy rolling again.”

As a matter of economic policy, Price’s argument is practically gibberish. Taking billions out of the economy and forcing public sector workers from their jobs does not get an economy “rolling,” unless we’re talking about “rolling” downhill. Independent economic estimates, including that of the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, suggest these cuts will likely cost the U.S. economy 750,000 jobs just this year, which leads to legitimate questions about whether Price, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, has the foggiest idea what he’s talking about.

But the larger point is, Price’s comments offer a reminder that Republicans don’t even agree with other Republicans. If the sequester will “get this economy rolling again,” why is Price’s party so eager to blame the policy on President Obama? Why are some far-right House Republicans saying these cuts will do real harm while other far-right House Republicans say the exact opposite?

More commentary and video at the link…

Perhaps both of these messages would be easier to get across if the politicians used the technique we saw Jennifer Lawrence use at her press interview after she won the award for Best Actress. Politicians Can Take A Lesson From Jennifer Lawrence’s Mocking Post-Oscar Press Conference

For the press who she ruthlessly mocked and whose questions she reluctantly answered in a glib but charming fashion, Lawrence may not have been their favorite interview of the night.

When asked what the “process” was for preparing to come to the Oscars, Lawrence replied – with all the sincerity and lack of affectation that one would expect from anyone other than an Academy Award-winning actress – that she woke up, took a shower, tried on the dress and “came to the Oscars.” That last bit delivered with a bit of faux pomposity she knows the reporter was expecting.

“I’m sorry,” Lawrence added. “I did a shot before I…”

Lawrence displayed humility and self-deprecation – it was disarming. Probably due mostly to that particular character trait’s conspicuous paucity in Hollywood, as well as Washington D.C.

“The fall up to the stage,” another reporter then asked regarding a minor trip that Lawrence encountered on her way on stage to accept the Oscar. “Was it on purpose? Absolutely,” Lawrence said, simultaneously anticipating and rejecting the reporter’s premise before it had even been submitted. “What happened?” the reporter asked. “What do you mean ‘what happened?’ Lawrence replied. “Look at my dress.”

Contentious, but entirely lacking in aggression. Mocking, but buttressed by a transcendent likeability.

You can read more about who else has that special touch when it comes to dealing with the press. (Can you guess which politician is gifted with such talents?) I don’t know if I agree completely with the article’s assessment, but it does make a point. I guess.

Alright, that is all I got for tonight…Enjoy this bit of fun from Roger Rabbit.

And this great tune by Jessica Rabbit.

BTW, Jessica Rabbit’s speaking voice was performed by Kathleen Turner, and her singing voice was performed by Amy Irving. Turner was uncredited.

This is an open thread…


Friday Reads

Good Morning!

Much is being made of the election results that delivered a sound thumping to Republicans and their agenda to restrict the rights of women and minorities and to provide benefits to the wealthy and powerful.  A record number of women will be serving in the US Senate.  Five new women will be headed there.  Of all the significant races, Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren appears to have garnered the most hope and angst. Simon Johnson considers her election “important”.

Senator Warren is well placed, not just to play a role in strengthening Congressional oversight but also in terms of helping her colleagues think through what we really need to make our financial system more stable.

We need a new approach to regulation more generally – and not just for banking. We should aim to simplify and to make matters more transparent, exactly along Senator Warren’s general lines.

We should confront excessive market power, irrespective of the form that it takes.

We need a new trust-busting moment. And this requires elected officials willing and able to stand up to concentrated and powerful corporate interests. Empower the consumer – and figure out how this can get you elected.

Agree with the people of Massachusetts, and give Elizabeth Warren every opportunity.

Laura Gottesdiener thinks Warren’s election may usher in the end of the Tea Party.

Warren, who beat out the incumbent Republican Scott Brown in a bitter election, ran a campaign centered on connecting the dots between economic policies and personal values. A Harvard bankruptcy-law professor, Warren trumpeted a platform that called for economic reform, financial regulation and the protection of Social Security, Medicare and other safety-net programs.

“We said this election is about whose side you’re on,” Warren told The Huffington Post . “I think of this as an election where we stuck to our values: Make sure Social Security and Medicare benefits are protected, and millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share. To me, that’s the heart of it. That’s really where the basic social contract is reaffirmed.”

This type of populist platform became increasingly risky after Citizens United allowed for the infusion of billions of dollars into state elections. Warren was already well disliked on Wall Street for her role in creating and heading the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a watchdog agency that seeks “to make markets for consumer financial products and services work for Americans — whether they are applying for a mortgage, choosing among credit cards, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

 Warren may be given a seat on the powerful senate banking committee which has to be worrying Wall Street.

Senior Senate Democratic aides, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Massachusetts senator-elect is a logical fit for the committee, even though it is rare for a freshman senator to get such a plum assignment.

If she gets the slot, Warren’s bully pulpit would be replaced with real power.

The bipartisan panel can greatly influence policy decisions through its oversight of financial services, international trade, insurance, housing, securities and economic issues.

Warren, who has called for breaking up the big banks, could move to block legislative tweaks to the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial oversight law that would blunt the full impact of profit-pummeling reforms.

She would also be able to forcefully push for regulators to use all the powers available to them to write strict interpretations of rules.

That could mean stronger curbs on Wall Street trading, higher capital buffers and rules that would compel mega-banks to shrink.

Warren and other Senators will have to watch the President and Speaker of the House as they battle of the so-called fiscal cliff before getting their say in the budget.

While no can say for sure how the negotiations to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff” — the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and impending across-the-board spending cuts — will unfold, the betting here is it will get ugly before it gets better.

First, virtually no one believes what happened last time will happen this time: President Obamawon’t cave on extending tax cuts for upper income earners.

So will House Republicans come to the table voluntarily, before the first of the year? Or will it require all hell breaking loose — an expiration of the income and payroll tax cuts, sequestration, the estate tax, and the AMT kicking in, cap gains and dividend rates rising — before they are forced to come kicking and screaming to an agreement?

The president holds a lot of leverage here — not just because he just won, Democrats expanded their majority in the Senate, and gained seats in the House. He holds leverage because, structurally, we’re talking about tax cuts that are expiring. His position is clear: The rate for the wealthiest will be allowed to go up. If he is willing to go to the wall and let the the lower rates expire, pressure shifts to House Speaker John Boehner to make a deal before his conference is isolated by the business community, which more than anything wants D.C. to just cut a deal, and Senate Republicans, who cut a deal and sold Boehner out last time. Add to that a tanking market and mounting economic hysteria, and that’s a lot of pressure on the House GOP true believers, Allen West or no Allen West.

The conventional wisdom is that Obama and Republicans will make a short term deal on taxes and sequestration — kicking that can down the road yet again — contingent on agreement on a “framework” for tax reform to be done in the first part of 2013.

There is incentive for Boehner to try and make an early deal, before the first of the year. The question, as always, is will he have the votes to allow tax rates on the wealthy to rise? Seems doubtful. He would have to be a pretty firm and big commitment from Obama on tax and entitlement reform to get them to go along.

Is it a matter of who will blink first?  Here’s a conversation between Ramesh Ponnuru and Margaret Carlson.  This is Ponnur’s take.

Does Boehner mean that tax reform should raise money by cutting tax breaks more than it cuts tax rates? Or does he mean that it should raise money just by encouraging economic growth?

If it’s the first, Boehner is going to have a problem with conservatives — especially Grover Norquist, the party’s anti- tax enforcer. If it’s the second, he’s not talking about much revenue.

That’s a bargain that sounds grand to me, but liberals who just won an election might disagree, don’t you think? My guess is he’s being ambiguous so he can gauge the reaction.

Another question: What leverage does Boehner have, and what leverage does he think he has? Obama doesn’t have to cut any deal to get a lot of extra revenue. He can let taxes go up as scheduled and challenge the Republicans to cut them only for the middle class. Republicans can either go along or decide not to and then blame him for the resulting middle-class tax hikes. Who likes their odds better in that fight?

Republicans have another bit of leverage, beyond the threat of blaming Democrats for tax increases: We’re getting close to hitting the debt ceiling again, and in the normal order of thingsHouse Republicans would have to agree to lift it.

Carlson has this to say.

In an election that was otherwise a debacle for Republicans, the House held its majority, and Boehner holds the gavel as long as he coddles his most extreme members. So he will.

Meanwhile, the president (unless you see something in him, Ramesh, that I don’t) still believes in this hope-y, change-y stuff Republicans consider a joke. He still sees himself as a historic figure that can bridge the partisan divide.

It is Boehner’s tiny, eensy-weensy bit of openness to dealing with Obama that is enraging conservatives. At the same time, it is playing to Obama’s view of himself. The president’s signature trait is an inability to negotiate from strength. He leads with his best offer. If Obama were buying a car, he’d probably pay full price and leave without radial tires.

In fairness to Obama, it’s foolish to call the bluff of an opposition that’s already shown it will allow the U.S. to default on its debt.

You’re right, Ramesh, that Obama doesn’t have to do anything at all to raise revenue. But he can’t risk raising taxes on the working and middle classes when the economy is still shaky. Republicans, by contrast, are willing to risk anything.

One of the quiet victories of the election is the failure of the NRA whose candidates didn’t do well this election.

The Sunlight Foundation, a campaign watchdog group, found that the NRA’s Political Victory Fund – the political arm of the nation’s largest gun lobbying organization – spent almost $11 million for or against individual candidates in the general elections, but got less than a 1 percent return on its investment.

The NRA, for instance, spent more than $7.4 million in opposition to President Obama and almost $1.9 million in support of Mitt Romney, according to Sunlight. But Obama was the victor on Tuesday, and the NRA had similar bad luck trying to influence Senate and House races.

For example, the group put almost $538,000 behind Indiana Senate contender Richard Mourdock (R), who lost, and spent more than $512,000 to oppose Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who won, according to Sunlight.

Conversely, Planned Parenthood did an outstanding job!

Planned Parenthood’s political wing trounced other groups with a near perfect return on its election spending, according to a new numbers review.

The Sunlight Foundation found that Planned Parenthood’s advocacy arm and super-PAC spent about $5 million and $7 million, respectively, to oppose Republicans and support Democrats in the general election.

In the end, the two groups saw returns on investment of about 98 and 99 percent, according to Sunlight.

The figures come as election-watchers pick apart the most expensive cycle in history. Republicans’ loss in the presidential race and failure to claim the Senate came as a surprise to outside donors, many of whom spent millions to ensure GOP victories.

Planned Parenthood’s political wing played an outsized role in the general election, compared to cycles past. The flood of political activity came as Republicans vowed to end Planned Parenthood’s federal funding as a healthcare provider for low-income women. Conservatives argue that while the law technically bans public funds from supporting abortions, taxpayer money need not flow to a group that performs the procedures.

The election covered a wide range of women’s health issues in addition to public funds for Planned Parenthood, giving the group ample chance to advocate in favor of abortion rights and access to free birth control.

The only outside groups that came close to beating Planned Parenthood’s return on investment were Majority PAC, which fought for Democratic Senate candidates, with a success rate of about 88 percent, and the Service Employees International Union PEA-Federal, with about an 85 percent success rate.

I’ll end with offering some beautiful finds in a Thracian burial site in Bulgaria.


The researchers found fragments of a wooden box, containing charred bones and ashes, along with a number of extremely well-preserved golden objects, dated from the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 3rd century B. C.. They include four spiral gold bracelets, and a number of intricate applications like one which shows the head of a female goddess adorned with beads, applications on horse riding gear and a forehead covering in the shape of a horse head with a base shaped like a lion head. The objects weigh 1.5 kg, but the excavations continue.

The precious find also contains a ring, buttons and beads. Gergova explains that it seemed the treasure was wrapped in a gold-woven cloth because a number of gold threads were discovered nearby.

The Professor says these were, most likely, remnants from a ritual burial, adding the team expects to discover a huge burial ground, probably related to the funeral of the Gath ruler Kotela, one of the father-in-laws of Philip II of Macedon. She notes this is a unique find, never before discovered in Bulgaria.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


Rick Santorum Claims that Abortion is Associated with Breast Cancer

Lying fetus fetishist Rick Santorum

This morning on Fox News Sunday, a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination told interviewer Chris Wallace that he disagreed with the Komen Foundation’s reversal on funding Planned Parenthood, because abortion may cause breast cancer. As quoted at Raw Story:

“I’ve taken the position as a presidential candidate and someone in Congress that Planned Parenthood funds and does abortions,” Santorum explained. “They’re a private organization they stand up and support what ever they want.”

I don’t believe that breast cancer research is advanced by funding an organization where you’ve seen ties to cancer and abortion,” he added. “So, I don’t think it’s a particularly healthy way of contributing money to further cause of breast cancer, but that’s for a private organization like Susan B. Komen to make that decision.”

That is complete bulls**t. From Raw Story:

According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the several small flawed studies that suggested a link between abortion and breast cancer have been disproven.

“Since then, better-designed studies have been conducted,” the institute’s website said. “These newer studies examined large numbers of women, collected data before breast cancer was found, and gathered medical history information from medical records rather than simply from self-reports, thereby generating more reliable findings. The newer studies consistently showed no association between induced and spontaneous abortions and breast cancer risk.”

In 2002, according to the article in Raw Story, the Bush administration

temporarily altered NCI’s website to say that scientific evidence supported a possible link between abortion and breast cancer. After an outcry from the scientific community, NCI corrected its website with an accurate fact sheet.

A study released by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) (PDF) in 2006 found that the Bush administration also used pregnancy resource centers — commonly known as “crisis pregnancy centers” — to falsely inform pregnant teens that the risk of breast cancer increased by 80 percent after an abortion.

Santorum also gave the following quote to Politico writer Juana Summers:

“I’m very disappointed to hear that…It’s unfortunate that public pressure builds to provide money to an organization that goes out and actively is the No. 1 abortion provider in the country. That’s not healthcare. That’s not healthcare at all. Killing little children in the womb is not healthcare. It’s very disappointing that Susan G. Komen would continue to do that, which is a great organization that talks about saving lives, not about ending lives.”

Rick Santorum and his fellow candidates need to STFU. I think it’s time for a Constitutional amendment that says that no man can interfere in womens’ health decisions.


Evening News Reads: Tied to a fence and Tied to a bad decision…

Good Evening

Today we have seen a lot of back and forth with Komen For the Cure and Planned Parenthood. It is good to see that PP is getting some big donations in response to the ridiculous actions of the Komen foundation. So I am just going to highlight a few new articles on the whole “Pink You!” debacle…

I must say, when I saw the title of this MoJo link, I laughed and laughed.

Komen’s $7.5 Million Grant to Penn State Appears to Violate New Policy | Mother Jones

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which recently announced that it is ending grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screening because of a controversial investigation launched by an anti-abortion Republican congressman, currently funds cancer research at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center to the tune of $7.5 million. Like Planned Parenthood, Penn State is currently the subject of a federal government investigation, and like the Planned Parenthood grant, the Penn State grant appears to violate a new internal rule at Komen that bans grants to organizations that are under investigation by federal, state, or local governments. But so far, only the Planned Parenthood grants appear to have been cancelled.

An internal Komen memo written by President Elizabeth Thompson and obtained by Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic states that if “an applicant or its affiliates” is under investigation “for financial or administrative improprieties by local, state or federal authorities,” then “the applicant will be ineligible to receive a grant.” Penn State, the Pennsylvania university that the Hershey center is affiliated with, is currently under investigation by the federal government over the sexual assault scandal involving former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky, who has been indicted on multiple counts of sexual abuse of children. In 2008, the Komen foundation awarded a five-year, $7.5 million grant to the Hershey center to study treatments that could reduce the risk of breast cancer.

This is why we know that the decision to withdraw support from Planned Parenthood was a targeted attack by someone, cough Handel cough, who had a personal agenda to defund Planned Parenthood from the get go.

Under the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, university officials are required to “issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to the campus community.” The Department of Education announced that it was investigating Penn State over possible Clery Act violations last November, and a Penn State spokesperson told Mother Jones that the investigation is ongoing. The Komen foundation has not yet responded to a request for comment.

Of course they won’t comment! For those of you getting talked down to by people who believe Planned Parenhood protects sex offenders/predators, then I think you may want to share the news regarding this grant of 7.5 million to a university that clearly had a sexual predator and child rapist on their payroll…and still do. (I believe Sandusky is still getting a pension, right?) If I am wrong about that let me know.

More on this bad PR move: Komen struggles to defuse Planned Parenthood crisis | Reuters

The world’s leading breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, struggled on Thursday to defuse a growing crisis over its decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion and birth control services.

The sudden rift between the two top U.S. women’s health advocacy groups triggered a furious debate on social media sites between supporters and opponents of abortion rights.

Democratic lawmakers called on Komen to reconsider its move as the organization was thrust into the center of an intractable dispute that some say will hamper its work for years to come [ID:nL2E8D2HHA]. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged his own money to help Planned Parenthood recoup the lost funds.

I spent most of the day on other sites, commenting on many of the articles that we have linked to on the blog in the last 48 hours. It is unbelievable the amount of smartass remarks from idiots who see no problem with the decision to cut funding for cancer screening programs that are mostly used by lower-income women.

However, the comments from folks who are disturbed by the politicizing of something as important as saving lives…are something to see. I am happy about that.

For one thing, the right’s war on women has been going on with little or no response or fight from women who seem to be detached from the attacks on their given rights over their own bodies. There has been a dull hum from people who have talked and talked about the Christian Jihad against women…we here on Sky Dancing have been a part of that hum…but this decision from Komen to cut ties to Planned Parenthood has really slapped some sense into people! And that is one thing I am glad to see.

One more link on this: Susan G. Komen Top Officials Resign As Backlash Gains Steam

Dr. Kathy Plesser, a Manhattan radiologist on the medical advisory board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s New York chapter, said she plans to resign from her position unless Komen reverses its decision to pull grant money from Planned Parenthood.

“I’m a physician and my interest is women’s health, and I am disturbed by Komen’s decision because I am a very strong advocate for serving under-served women,” Plesser told The Huffington Post. “Eliminating this funding will mean there’s no place for these women to go. Where are these women to go to have a mammography? Do they not deserve to have mammography?”

With her decision, Plesser joins Komen’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, and the executive director of Komen’s Los Angeles County chapter, Deb Anthony, both of whom also resigned in protest.

Moving on to something else…and I may get some flak from this, when I complain about the injection of religion into politics and government, it goes both ways.  Obama: Jesus would tax the rich – Jennifer Epstein – POLITICO.com

President Barack Obama on Thursday tied his proposal to raise taxes on wealthy Americans to his faith, telling leaders gathered for the National Prayer Breakfast that Jesus’s teachings have shaped that conclusion.

The rich should pay more not only because “I actually think that is going to make economic sense, but for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus’s teaching that ‘for unto whom much is given, much shall be required,’” Obama said at the Washington Hilton, delivering remarks at an annual event that every president has attended since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

You know, I get what he is saying, but I just wish all this Jesus and Christian and God and religious manipulation would stop…from everyone!

It has no place in government…period.

There is this op/ed from David Ignatius. Is Israel preparing to attack Iran? – The Washington Post

You can go and read it at the link, I’ve been so focused on the Komen Krap  and the violence in Egypt, that I really haven’t kept up with the latest out of Iran.

Now, this last article is disturbing…In NYPD Custody, Trans People Get Chained to Fences and Poles

A trans woman says that when she was arrested for a minor subway violation, NYPD officers belittled her, called her names, asked about her genitals — and kept her chained to a fence for 28 hours. Now she’s suing. And it turns out she’s far from alone.

In her lawsuit, Temmie Breslauer says she was arrested on January 12 in a subway station for illegally using her dad’s discount fare card (only seniors and people with disabilities can get these). She says the arresting officers — the suit names one, Officer Shah — laughed at her. When they took her to the station, a desk sergeant asked her “whether she had a penis or a vagina.” Breslauer explained that she was in transition. Then, instead of putting her with female inmates or in her own room, the department allegedly chose this course of action:

[S]he was fingerprinted, seated on a bench, then painfully chained to a fence wherein, for no apparent reason, her arm was lifted over her head and attached to the fence to make it appear that she was raising her hand in the classroom. She sat there in that position for 28 hours.

She also says officers not only refused to call her “she,” they instead referred to her as “He-She”, “Faggot,” and “Lady GaGa,” and asked her “So you like to suck dick? Or what?” Meanwhile, people arrested for the same minor crime (misdemeanor “theft of services”) she was were calmly processed and allowed to leave. Finally, she was able to go before a judge, who gave her two days of community service. She says the whole ordeal aggravated her existing PTSD and left her sleepless and suicidal.

There seems to be a pattern of police brutality when it comes to crimes allegedly committed by Transgender persons.

And this isn’t the first time the NYPD has been accused of mocking and abusing a trans person. In October, Justin Adkins, director of the Multicultural Center at Williams College, was arrested for protesting on the Brooklyn Bridge as part of Occupy Wall Street. At The Bilerico Project, he reports almost exactly the same treatment that Breslauer got. When a male officer found out Adkins was trans, he asked Adkins what he “had down there.” Then, at the the station, this happened:

They had me sit down in a chair next to the filthy toilet, and handcuffed my right wrist to a metal handrail.

Why was I segregated from all of the other protestors? Perhaps the answer lay in the fact that police officers were coming by to ogle me, and were laughing and giggling at me through a window. It was obvious that prisoners were rarely handcuffed to a railing in this manner, because a number of officers asked a female officer why I was handcuffed to the railing. She told them something, I couldn’t hear what, but then, on each of these occasions, they would laugh and giggle while looking at me pointedly.

Adkins was chained up for eight hours, sometimes with his arm twisted painfully behind him, before he was finally released.

Adkins is waiting to hear back about his formal complaint filed with Internal Affairs. He has requested a standard procedure for arrest of Transgender detainees, however, his is not the first request.

A list of demands issued to the NYPD in 2009 by a group of transgender advocates and lawyers includes this:

NYPD officers place detained transgender women in cells with men in dangerous situations against their will no matter the circumstances. Transgender men have been cuffed to rails outside of cells for hours on end.

The list also says that, “In 2004, a transgender woman filed a law suit against the NYPD alleging a pattern and practice of engaging in unconstitutional and overly invasive searches of transgender people. Since then, at least four other transgender women have sued the NYPD about violations of their civil rights.”

The reporter ends this article with this:

So far I haven’t been able to get anyone from the NYPD to comment on this issue in any way. Emails to the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information have gone unanswered. When I contacted Timothy Duffy, the NYPD’s LGBT liaison, he declined to comment and referred me right back to the DCPI. All the advocates I talked to expressed some hope that the NYPD would change. But I bet lots of people in the trans community would feel a lot more hopeful if the department would make a public commitment to treating them like people. Until then, all they have to go on are some vague assurances of reform — and a lot of lawsuits that show the exact opposite.

Reform, that favorite of all stall tactics…

What are you all doing this evening? With all that has happened on the women front, I will be making brownies…lots of brownies!