Sunday Reads: Once more with confidence…

With all this heat, I could not bear to put up a picture of hot coffee…so here is a nice cool watermelon to enjoy your summer morning Sunday reads.

Good Morning!

Actually that exclamation point seems a bit overstated. I wanted to write a poetic introduction to this morning’s post. I sat on my bed with the laptop angled up on my lower legs…my fingers on the well-worn keyboard, and nothing could make them move and flick the keys, to write out words on the computer page. I just looked at my hands and saw only that my nails needed to be clipped, and the screen needed to be cleaned.

Must be the heat, it zaps any intelligent thought out of my brain, and it drives my mind into stillness. Nothingness. Only the relief pouring out of my A/C unit and the sound of my fan falls on me. Nothing.

I won’t kid you all into thinking that I have any thought-provoking comment on the news links today. These plastic keys are getting hot under the pressure of my fingertips as they sit waiting for me to get on with it.

Dammit, I should have known that naming a post, once more with confidence was just asking for trouble. So all that I wrote for the intro to this morning’s post is poof, gone. My computer froze, it too must be affected by the heat. No kidding, I had to take a picture of the computer screen so I could retype the paragraphs I did write. Ugh…

For the start of today’s post, I give you this…h/t Boston Boomer who sent me the link last night while I was having computer problems.

Weimar America …Before I even read the article I knew exactly what I was going to be reading about…what little brain cells I have left, the ones who have not melted in the heat, could grasp that headline.

What happens when a nation that was once an economic powerhouse turns its back on democracy and on its middle class, as wealthy right-wingers wage austerity campaigns and enable extremist politics?

It may sound like America in 2012. But it was also Germany in 1932.

Since I’ve been re-reading the book Banality of Evil, and just last month finished the book In the Garden of Beast, this article is not at all surprising to me.

Most Americans have never heard of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic interlude between World War I and World War II. Those who have usually see it as a prologue to the horrors of Nazi Germany, an unstable transition between imperialism and fascism. In this view, Hitler’s rise to power is treated as an inevitable outcome of the Great Depression, rather than the result of a decision by right-wing politicians to make him chancellor in early 1933.

Historians reject teleological approaches to studying the past. No outcome is inevitable, even if some are more likely than others. Rather than looking for predictable outcomes, we ought to be looking to the past to understand how systems operate, especially liberal capitalist democracies. In that sense, Weimar Germany holds many useful lessons for contemporary Americans. In particular, there are four major points of similarity between Weimar Germany and Weimar America worth examining.

Please, if you read nothing else, read the rest of this article…

Next up…David Miscavige: A cult figure in the fame game  This link is about the cult of Scientology, it’s big shot leader and Sea Org…and it is freaky stuff! If you do not know what Sea Org is, you may be one of those folks who have not kept up with the Tom Cruise/Katie Holmes split. Some gossip mags are speculating that Sea Org is the reason behind Holmes filing for divorce and seeking full custody of their daughter. Well, I have no comment on that…but a cult is a cult, nuff said.

At first glance, the handsome Georgian mansion in the heart of the Sussex countryside could easily be mistaken for a National Trust property. Indeed, at this time of year, Saint Hill Manor would not look out of place in a BBC costume drama; lawns are manicured and greenhouses stocked with abundant produce.

Only the presence of stern-faced young men sporting pristine black naval uniforms and white flat caps indicate Saint Hill’s true calling. The cadets are members of the Sea Org, the 6,000-strong unit within the Church of Scientology that is run along quasi-military lines and which is treated with a degree of respect that borders on fear by some of its followers.

Many members are little more than children who have signed contracts pledging to perform a billion years of service for the fledgling church which was set up in 1954 by the former pulp fiction writer L Ron Hubbard, and is famed for its celebrity followers.

Banned from having children while part of the group, Sea Org members are considered the Scientology elite, shock troops to be dispatched to the church’s trouble spots. Hubbard declared that they had “unlimited ethics powers”.

Uh…again I can only say, it’s a cult!

Small-framed, sharp-featured and with an unnerving gaze, Miscavige’s official title is “chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Centre“, a stand-alone organisation whose remit is to “preserve, maintain and protect the Scientology religion”. According to the church, the centre “holds the ultimate ecclesiastical authority regarding the standard and pure application of L Ron Hubbard’s religious technologies”.

What this means in practice, according to those who have quit the church, is that Miscavige wields absolute power over Scientology’s followers.

I will omit the Cruise/Holmes discussion and get back to Miscavige:

Scientology claims the abuse it receives is typical of the treatment meted out down the centuries to any new religion. But a plethora of lawsuits alleging that Scientology has harassed its critics, humiliated and beaten its followers and forced family members to break off contact with their loved ones, all denied by the church, have conspired to leave a sinister impression.

There is also unease over the apparent disappearance of Miscavige’s wife, Shelly, another former member of the Sea Org, who was responsible for introducing Holmes to Cruise and who has reportedly not been seen in public since 2007.

In a letter to the Observer, Jeffrey K Riffer, a lawyer who acts for Shelly Miscavige, denied claims his client was missing. “Mrs Miscavige has been working nonstop in the church, as she always has.”

Once it was the case that the church could rely on its internal disciplinary mechanism to ensure negative publicity was kept to a minimum. According to lawsuits, contested by the church, followers were threatened with manual labour if they spoke out about harsh treatment. The ever-present threat of being rejected by the church and having all links with it broken off, was enough to make even sceptical Scientologists stay silent.

But this fear no longer holds sway – even among Miscavige’s own family. “My experience in growing up in Scientology is that it is both mentally and at times physically abusive,” his niece, Jenna Miscavige Hill, told the Hollywood Reporter. “We got a lousy education from unqualified teachers, forced labour… not to mention the mental anguish of trying to figure out all of the conflicting information they force upon you as a young child…

Questions also loom about the fortunes that Miscavige spends on living up his celebrity lifestyle…

Even those who are supportive of the church are tired of Miscavige’s influence. Last New Year’s Eve, Debbie Cook, a high-profile Scientologist, emailed the church’s followers, urging them to reject its demands for money. Under Miscavige, Cook said, Scientology had become too focused on luxury buildings and was holding more than $1bn in reserve instead of spending it on spreading the religion, claims denied by the church. Miscavige, Cook claimed, had dismantled the internal checks that were supposed to prevent the church from being led by a single person.

There are claims that several of Scientology’s former followers have briefed the FBI on Miscavige’s lifestyle. It is alleged that he owns numerous vehicles, flies in corporate jets and has five stewards and two chefs at his disposal – claims denied by the church.

It is ironic that Miscavige, who by masterminding Scientology’s successful claim for tax exemption from the US Internal Revenue Service in 1993 transformed the church’s fortunes, now finds himself its biggest liability.

Well, I still can’t believe this cult is considered a “church” just thinking of all the tax exemptions alone is enough to piss me off. That there is a missing wife, crazed celebrities and indoctrination of children just adds fuel to the fire.

Let’s keep the rage flowing:  TN Tea Party Groups Demand School Textbooks Overlook Slavery

Remember the Tea Party — that reactionary right wing movement that helped lead the Republican Party into the fever swamp of madness?

Well, in places like Tennessee they found especially fertile ground, and that state’s Teabaggers are now demanding that school textbooks leave out America’s history of slavery.

A little more than a year after the conservative-led state board of education in Texas approved massive changes to its school textbooks to put slavery in a more positive light, a group of Tea Party activists in Tennessee has renewed its push to whitewash school textbooks. The group is seeking to remove references to slavery and mentions of the country’s founders being slave owners.

You know, over at the Holocaust museum there was a section that focused on propaganda, and the way the Nazi’s changed the kids history books to push the Aryan ideal and make the kids “good little Nazis.”

From Tennessee to Louisiana, the tea party nutcases are working hard to fuck up the education system. Louisiana Legislator Upset That Education Vouchers Can Go to Muslim Schools

It looks like someone’s pocket Constitution was lost before she voted in the Louisiana legislature. That’s Republican legislator Valarie Hodges, who wholeheartedly supported Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program. Well, she supported it until she discovered that — GASP! — state money could go to Muslim schools.

Now she’s just horrified.

Rep. Valarie Hodges, R-Watson, says she had no idea that Gov. Bobby Jindal’s overhaul of the state’s educational system might mean taxpayer support of Muslim schools.

“I actually support funding for teaching the fundamentals of America’s Founding Fathers’ religion, which is Christianity, in public schools or private schools,” the District 64 Representative said Monday.

“I liked the idea of giving parents the option of sending their children to a public school or a Christian school,” Hodges said.

Hodges mistakenly assumed that “religious” meant “Christian.”

HB976, now signed into law as Act 2, proposed, among other things, a voucher program allowing state educational funds to be used to send students to schools run by religious groups.

Well….what about that assumption?

“Unfortunately it will not be limited to the Founders’ religion,” Hodges said. “We need to insure that it does not open the door to fund radical Islam schools. There are a thousand Muslim schools that have sprung up recently. I do not support using public funds for teaching Islam anywhere here in Louisiana.”

Well, hey, Rep. Hodges. You don’t get to pick and choose the “permissible religions” when you hand over public funds to private concerns, which is why those of us with half a brain think that public school money ought to be used to fund public institutions, especially when there is NO “founders’ religion.”

See, that way it’s easy. My tax money doesn’t go to fund stupid conservative, narrow-minded, intellectually dishonest education controlled by Catholic bishops and Southern Baptist wingnuts, and your tax money doesn’t go to Muslims. Didn’t you believe that whole “freedom of religion” thing in the Constitution?

Jezebel has a funny take on this story here: Republican Horrified to Discover that Christianity is Not the Only Religion

It’s an honest mistake, assuming that the Constitution only protects your own personal megachurch faith. But one Louisiana Republican is learning the hard way that religious school vouchers can be used to fund education at all sorts of religious schools, even Muslim ones. And while she’s totally in favor of taxpayer money being used to pay for kids to go to Christian schools, she’s willing to put a stop to the entire program if Muslim schools are going to be involved.

Valarie Hodges admitted that when she supported Governor Bobby Jindal’s school voucher program, she only did so because she assumed the religious school vouchers could only be used for Christian schools. Religious freedom means that everyone’s free to follow Valarie Hodges’ religion!

Okay, looks like I have a theme going here, and I did not even notice it.  But back to the Jezebel link:

As The Friendly Atheist points out, the brand of Christianity currently espoused by many in the religious right wing would be pretty unrecognizable to the Founding Fathers, who were pretty high on Deism and pretty low on Christian rock concerts/ talking about The Children’s collective virginity/ having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. But whatever. Facts are immaterial at this point.

Yup, there is no need to have facts…or science, or anything at all resembling intelligence.

Case in point: LePage calls IRS the ‘new Gestapo’  You know, this healthcare reform, ACA,  is what the GOP supported before it got signed into law and renamed after Obama.

Gov. Paul LePage used his weekly radio address to blast President Obama’s health care law and described the Internal Revenue Service as the “new Gestapo.”

The IRS description was a reference to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans not insured by their employers or Medicaid to buy health insurance or pay an annual penalty when filing their tax returns. The provision, known more broadly as the individual mandate, was the subject of a multi-state lawsuit, but was recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

LePage said the court decision has “made America less free.”

“We the people have been told there is no choice,” he said. “You must buy health insurance or pay the new Gestapo — the IRS.”

Maine Democratic Party Chairman Ben Grant, responding to LePage’s remarks, said, “We’ve come to expect a bunch of nonsense from Gov. LePage, but this is a step too far. There appears now to be no limit to the extreme language he will use to misinform, degrade and insult people. Somebody needs to explain to him that he’s the governor of a state, and not a talk radio host. I demand a full apology on behalf of all those who suffered at the hands of the real Gestapo.”

[…]

The debate over the mandate has become a political flash point since the health law was enacted. Republicans maintain that the requirement is an unfair tax. Democrats say the mandate was originally a Republican idea born from the conservative Heritage Foundation, which introduced the measure in 1989 as a counterpoint to calls for a single-payer health care system.

[…]

The governor added that Maine will not move forward the ACA’s insurance exchanges — the marketplaces where individuals can shop for health plans from private companies — until the proposed $800 million tab to pay for them passes Congress.

“With these looming uncertainties circling around this issue, Maine cannot move forward right now with Obamacare,” LePage said.

The governor finished his radio address by outlining his ideological opposition to the health-care law, which he said “raises taxes, cuts Medicare for the elderly, gets between patients and their doctors, costs trillions of taxpayer dollars, and kills jobs.”

“Even more disheartening is that reviving the American dream just became nearly impossible to do,” he said. “We are now a nation which supports dependency rather than independence. Instead of encouraging self-reliance, we are encouraging people to rely on the government.”

Oh boy…

Now, let’s move on to the latest news out of the Justice Department: Holder says civil rights ‘under renewed threat’

In an address to the National Council of La Raza convention in Las Vegas on Saturday, Attorney General Eric Holder told the Hispanic advocacy group that the gains of the Civil Rights era were coming “under renewed threat,” and touted the administration’s efforts in protecting the rights of minority groups and immigrants.

“Many of you know this firsthand – and have felt the impact of division, and even discrimination, in your own lives,” said Holder in his address, according to prepared remarks released by the Justice Department.”

The attorney general pledged that the civil rights advocacy group would “never have a more committed partner than the United States Department of Justice” and touted the administration’s record on those issues.

In particular, Holder highlighted the Supreme Court’s ruling last week striking down much of Arizona’s law targeting illegal immigration.

[…]

Holder said with the decision, the justices were “confirming the federal government’s exclusive authority to regulate with regard to immigration issues.”

But Holder, expressed concerns over the provision left standing. “We’ll work to ensure – as the Court affirmed – that such laws cannot be seen as a license to engage in racial profiling.  And we’ll continue to enforce federal prohibitions against racial and ethnic discrimination, in order – as President Obama has promised – to “uphold our tradition as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants,” he said.

The attorney general also touted the administration’s decision to halt the deportation of some young illegal immigrants, a move popular within the Hispanic community, calling it “a significant – and long-overdue – improvement to our nation’s immigration policy.”

Holder said the next step was for lawmakers to push through more comprehensive immigration reform and he said the administration would “keep working with Congressional leaders – from both parties – to advance the passage of critical legislation like the DREAM Act.”

Hmmm, in an election year…yes, that would be a dream in itself. However according to Holder:

“Over the past three years, our Civil Rights Division has filed more criminal civil rights cases than during any other period in its history – including record numbers of human trafficking, hate crimes, and police misconduct cases,” said Holder, pledging that such efforts would remain a “top priority” for the department.

The Obama administration is also sending Vice President Biden to the convention. He is scheduled to speak on Tuesday.

Romney, however, will not be attending, and chose instead to send a surrogate, former Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez. Gutierrez was not given a speaking role and instead met with attendees at the conference.

Okay, that about does it for me. Except for one little wish, and that goes to Barney Frank…congratulations on getting hitched this weekend. Rep. Barney Frank Marries Longtime Partner In Newton

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank tied the knot with his longtime partner Jim Ready on Saturday.

The 72-year-old congressman tried to keep the details of the private ceremony under wraps, but managed to drop enough clues to tip off the media.

Governor Patrick officiated the wedding.

Former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Al Green, Rep. Jim McGovern, and others were seen arriving at the Newton Marriott Saturday evening.

[…]

Ready, 42, lives in Ogunquit, Maine and runs a small business that does custom awnings, carpentry, painting, welding and other services; he is also a photographer.

And what are you all reading about this morning? Stay cool and don’t even bother walking outside today, give this video of Absolutely Fabulous a look-see…especially starting at the 8:20 mark. “Sweetie…Now prepare yourself for the heat…you’re not used to it.”


63 Comments on “Sunday Reads: Once more with confidence…”

  1. Pat Johnson says:

    Fabulous round up, mink!

    From Lepage in Maine to Miscavage and Scientology to the nutjobs who support the Tea Party efforts to rewrite history, it is difficult to recognize that we are living in the 21st centurty where “facts” are being replaced by fanstasy.

    And why or why are we conferring “church status” to a so called religion that is as abusive and insane as Scientology? It boggles the mind.

    I still can’t get over the fact that this nation is being led in the direction it is by a handful of morons like those from the Tea Party as future legislations appears to be in their hands.

    Without the benefit of history we have no idea where we are heading and leaves open the possibility that progress has come to a full stop with these deranged people who “lead” without substance.

    Even more troubling is that with world markets seemingly collapsing under the weight of corruption, it will be up to people with the intelligence of a flea to correct this trend which should strike terror into the hearts of the rest of us.

  2. bostonboomer says:

    For someone whose mind was zapped into stillness and nothingness, you sure wrote a brilliant post, JJ. Thanks for writing about Scientology. No one commented on the Scientology story I wrote about in my post yesterday. I hope you will go read it if you haven’t already.

    Its very important for people to understand that Scientology is effectively protected by the government and the media–they are very powerful. They’re getting away with terrible abuse, including slave labor.

    • bostonboomer says:

      And let’s not forget the Unification Church (moonies) and C Street–two cults with a lot of power in Washington DC.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I know what you mean about the effects of the heat, though. Yesterday I really felt like I was in an altered state, just zoned out.

      • Beata says:

        I was really out of it yesterday. The high temp here was 107. I don’t know what the heat index was. I don’t want to know.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Beata,

        Every time I start to complain about the heat, I think about the people in Indiana. This summer has been ghastly for you. I read that the corn crop is really going to suffer too.

    • Delphyne says:

      Actually, BB, I did read your article and followed the links and googled more because of it. It kept me occupied for a couple of hours. Scientology is definitely one strange and creepy cult.

      (My computer froze for a second, so not sure if this will be a duplicate comment. If it is, feel free to delete one of them.)

    • northwestrain says:

      Actually I did thank BB for the link. Plus I commented that I hoped Katie’s divorce would break open that cult. Anyone or any group who goes after Scientology has been silenced.

      Scientology has managed to silence all their critics — Cult Awareness Network was doing a great job of educating the public about cults. But this organization was shut down with lawsuits from Scientology. Now Scientology owns CAN — Cult Awareness Network. Scientology found that with unlimited funding they could use the courts to shut down any individual or group who dare to tell the truth about Scientology.

      Google this phrase — Scientology cult awareness — and you will find loads of links to articles about how Scientology shut down CAN and took over the name.

      Germany recognizes Scientology as a threat — Germany treats Scientology as a commercial enterprise and not as a church — again google — Scientology and Germany — to get the background information. If any country would know about the dangers of cults like Scientology it would be Germany.

      How’s this: German Protestant Church’s religious cult specialist called Tom
      Cruise the “Goebbels of Scientology. . . . That’s from an article in Slate magazine — found at the google search page.

      When you google you will also find the first entry is a paid advertisement for Scientology.

      Many of the right wing “christian” groups are cults as well. Many of the mega churches and the tiny churches out here in the west are cults. There are several cults in rural Washington where I live. Indoctrination and brainwashing are common — then there is the “christian” network of cults who help monitor each other’s members — in case someone wants to break away from one of the cults. Many of these cults have taken over school boards.

      The growth of these cults is an ongoing threat to all of us. Right now I’m seeing any organized effort to education the public about cults is shut down. Scientology and LDS are the richest cults with deep pockets to fight to maintain their status as “religion” and “tax exempt” in the US. But if we add all the other smaller cults — the total number of US citizens being brain washed and indoctrinated is huge.

      What can we do? I don’t have a clue.

  3. Beata says:

    What an ass Maine’s governor is! How in the world do these morons get elected?

    I’ve spent some time in Maine ( my grandmother’s side of the family was one of the “First Families” to settle there ). It’s a beautiful state, but not everyone there has a summer estate in Kennebunkport! Maine has a lot of poverty and a real need for affordable health care.

    • northwestrain says:

      He’s really an ugly pasty white guy (taking a leaf out of the way women politicians are treated). Who on earth would vote for such an ugly person?

      Amazing how much press these ugly Republicans are getting — the more extreme and ignorant their comments the more likely we are treated to a photo of their ugliness.

      How many other Republicans Governors are writing their double speak hate speeches so they too can get National media attention to show how ignorant and ugly they are?

  4. RalphB says:

    Thanks to GOP obstruction.

    PA City Defies Court Order; Reduces Police Officers, Firefighters’ Pay To Minimum Wage

    Ignoring a federal judge’s injunction, Scranton, Pennsylvania moved ahead with its plan to reduce the pay of city workers to the federal minimum wage starting Friday. Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty claims the city is broke and that the minimum wage payments are all it can possibly pay

    • NW Luna says:

      I trust that includes the mayor himself.

    • Fannie says:

      Wonder if they are also lowering the qualifications for those jobs, next thing you know they’ll be hiring the Zimmerman Security Group.

    • northwestrain says:

      I checked with Firefighters I know — they wonder how many firefighters will be on the job in a week.

      Pay for firefighters is generally on the high end — according to my sources — because the work can be so dangerous.

      Obviously the health and safety of the inhabitants of these 3rd world countries isn’t a concern of the politicians.

      Most likely this was an AGM — attention getting mechanism — which is what a 2 or 3 year old child does when he throws himself on the floor screaming and rolling around.

      I wonder how many more AGM episodes the media will present?

      • northwestrain says:

        Wait — this is an example of post birth abortion — forcing the firefighters to quit — to reduce the population. Whole city blocks could burn down — no fire inspection.

  5. RalphB says:

    I hope the Justice Dept prevails in this case.

    Texas Voter ID Law, Which Accepts Gun Licenses But Not Student IDs, Challenged In Court

    On Monday, the Department of Justice and the Texas Legislature will square off in court over Texas’ contentious voter ID law. A three-judge U.S. District Court panel will hear the case, which could challenge the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    If anyone has doubts about why this Voter ID law was passed…

    As of the 2010 census, non-Hispanic whites have become the minority in Texas, shrinking to 45.3% of the population from 52.4%, while Latinos accounted for 65% of Texas’s population growth over the past decade.

  6. Beata says:

    Summer reading suggestion: Julia Spencer-Fleming’s “Clare Fergusson” mystery series. The first one, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, is full of freezing weather to cool you off, along with a great story.

    • Beata says:

      I also highly recommend the “Kate Fansler” mystery series by Amanda Cross. Just excellent, even for people who don’t normally read mysteries.

      “Amanda Cross” was the pseudonym of Carolyn Gold Heilbrun, a professor of English at Columbia. Heilbrun’s non-fiction book “Writing a Woman’s Life” is a must-read. If you have already read it, read it again.

      • Beata says:

        More mystery recommendations:

        Charles Todd’s “Inspector Ian Rutledge” series, set in post-WWI England. The first one is “A Test of Wills”.

        Margaret Frazer’s “Sister Frevisse” series about a 15th-century English nun who solves mysteries. The first one is “A Novice’s Tale”.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’ve read all of Amanda Cross’s mysteries. I will check out the rest. Thanks!

      • NW Luna says:

        Thanks, Beata. I didn’t know that about Cross. I’ve read a few of the Sr. Frevisse novels. I love well-written historical novels. Of course the grande dame of historical mysteries is Ellis Peters and her Brother Cadfael series. I do like that Sr Frevisse is a female protagonist.

      • Beata says:

        Heilbrun’s own life was an interesting one. She committed suicide in 2003.

        http://nymag.com/nymetro/news/people/n_9589/

      • NW Luna says:

        “Mystifying” is what I felt, too, after reading that. I’m putting her books on my To Read list.

      • Beata says:

        NW Luna, if you like historical mysteries ( my particular favorites! ), here are two more good series:

        Bruce Alexander’s “Sir John Fielding” mysteries set in 18th century England. The first is “Blind Justice”.

        Kate Ross’s “Julian Kestrel” mysteries set in Regency-era England. The first is “Cut to the Quick”.

  7. Beata says:

    For people who are looking for general fiction, I recommend anything by A. S. Byatt, Penelope Fitzgerald, and Sarah Waters.

  8. quixote says:

    “to put slavery in a more positive light”

    😯

    ??? There’s a “positive light” for slavery? ???

    😯

    • bostonboomer says:

      Oh, didn’t you know that the slave owners were very kind to their slaves and when they were freed they were much worse off?

      /s

  9. RalphB says:

    Another woman who can make a big difference gets into the fight.

    Melinda Gates hits ‘war on women’ on eve of family planning summit

    Campaigners have attacked a “war on women” being waged by religious organisations before an international summit on family planning to be held in London this week.

    The conference, co-hosted by the Department for International Development (Dfid) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, plans to raise money and awareness to bring contraception to millions of women and girls in the developing world.

    This weekend Melinda French Gates, the wife of the Microsoft founder and one of the world’s richest women, tried to deflect controversy around the summit. In an interview to be broadcast on CNN on Sunday, she said giving women better access to contraception had become her lifetime’s work.

    • northwestrain says:

      That is good news.

    • NW Luna says:

      Yes, that is great news! Birth control can save lives.

      If the London summit raises enough money to reach 120 million women, that would translate into 100 million fewer unwanted pregnancies and 200,000 fewer maternal deaths, said Gary Darmstadt, head of family health at the Gates Foundation. Every dollar invested in family planning returns six dollars to a country’s economy through health care and other savings, he added.

      The foundation also estimates greater access to contraceptives could avert 50 million abortions between now and 2020. That doesn’t include the spontaneous abortions that are common among African women who get pregnant too young or too often, Kanyoro said. Her own mother-in-law bled to death when she suffered a miscarriage during her fifth pregnancy.

      http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/text/2018631466.html

  10. NW Luna says:

    Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council celebrates 20 years in Seattle.

    High-school students who volunteer for Planned Parenthood’s Teen Council get used to being called “the condom ladies.” They field text messages from their friends about sexually transmitted diseases and train fellow students about birth control during bus rides to games.

    Their knowledge about sex and relationships — built over 200 hours a year of involvement in the council — makes them go-to resources in high school, and lifelong advocates for sexual health and other causes supported by Planned Parenthood. ….

    With all the controversy, “we’ve seen a record number of young women and young men who’ve become active with Planned Parenthood as activists,” [national president, Cecile] Richards said. “I’m completely baffled at why politicians have now made women’s health care — both defunding Planned Parenthood, overturning Roe, ending access to birth control — a political issue,” she said. “I think it’s backfired.”

    I sure hope it’s backfiring. But I’m not baffled at why the nutwings have attacked

  11. NW Luna says:

    About our “cooler” weather in the Pacific Northwest:

    Break Out the Swamp Coolers: Sure, make fun of us, rest of America suffering from triple-digit temps for weeks. It’s all relative. For us, going from fall weather to 80 degrees is like throwing a banana slug under a heat lamp. Stuff shrivels.

  12. Take a look at the vows, Rep. Barney Frank Marries, Becomes First Sitting Congressman To Be In Same-Sex Marriage | Mediaite

    Do you promise to love each other and be each other’s best friend,
    In sickness and in health,
    In Congress or in retirement,
    Whether the surf is up or the surf’s flat,
    For richer or for poorer,
    Under the Democrats or the Republicans,
    Whether the slopes are powdery or icy,
    Whether the book reviews are good or bad,
    For better or for worse,
    On MSNBC or on Fox,
    For as long as you both shall live.

  13. Oh, this is sad: BBC News – Ernest Borgnine, TV and film actor, dies at 95

    Oscar-winning actor Ernest Borgnine, whose career spanned more than 60 years, has died, his spokesman has said.

    He died of renal failure in a Los Angeles hospital with his family by his side, his spokesman Harry Flynn told the Associated Press.

    Mr Borgnine, who was 95 years old, continued acting until recently with a role in the hospital drama ER in 2009.

    He won an Oscar in 1955 for his role in the film Marty.

    Borgnine was also known for his roles in The Wild Bunch and The Poseidon Adventure.

    • BBC News – Obituary: Ernest Borgnine

      With his stocky build, bulging eyes and gap-toothed, pugnacious features, Ernest Borgnine, who has died aged 95, was one of Hollywood’s leading character actors.

      His looks meant he often ened up playing the heavy, so it was, perhaps, a mark of his versatility that his only Oscar came for his role as the good natured Marty, in the 1955 film of the same name.

      He added longevity to that versatility, being nominated for an Emmy when he was in his 90s.

      Ermest Effron Borgnino was born on 24 January 1917 in Hamden, Conneticut, the son of Italian immigrants. His parents moved to New Haven in 1923 and changed the family name to Borgnine.

      He had no early ambition to be an actor and, on leaving high school in 1935, he enlisted in the United States Navy. Discharged in 1941 he joined up again after Pearl Harbor and served until the end of the war.

  14. RalphB says:

    This is altogether pathetically funny.

    The Obscure Charm Of The Plutocracy

    ..and here is what Mitt Romney’s people will be attempting to defuse on Monday after Mitt’s Hamptonspalooza:

    “A New York City donor a few cars back, who also would not give her name, said Romney needed to do a better job connecting. “I don’t think the common person is getting it,” she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits. “Nobody understands why Obama is hurting them.

    “We’ve got the message,” she added. “But my college kid, the baby sitters, the nails ladies — everybody who’s got the right to vote — they don’t understand what’s going on. I just think if you’re lower income — one, you’re not as educated, two, they don’t understand how it works, they don’t understand how the systems work, they don’t understand the impact.”