Daily Archive: 02/02/2012

Feb 02 2012

No More Pink Ribbons

Since of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure charity’s decision to eliminate funding to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings, the Komen foundation has come under not just criticism for abandoning many women’s only option for breast cancer screening but it has brought to light some very ugly truths about the organization. The most critical one is that its pink ribbon campaign has done more harm than good. As David Dayen and TBogg at FDL both note, Komen’s official line that “our priority is and always will be the women we serve” is a joke considering the number of women who use Planned Parenthood for their health care and that Komen does virtually nothing for women’s health or fighting breast cancer

A documentary that premiered last fall at the Toronto Film Festival, Pink Ribbons, Inc, that is about to be released in Canadian theaters, exposes the Pink Ribbon campaign for what it is, a money raising farce for corporations that have done nothing to find a cure for breast cancer but in some cases may have contributed to its rise:

Indignant and subversive, “Pink Ribbons, Inc.” resoundingly pops the shiny pink balloon of the breast cancer movement/industry, debunking the “comfortable lies” and corporate double-talk that permeate the massive and thus-far-ineffectual campaign against a disease that claims nearly 60,000 lives each year in North America alone. Veteran helmer Lea Pool, working from Samantha King’s book, won’t be making any friends with her full-frontal attack on the corporate co-option of the breast cancer cause, which could limit Stateside circulation of this Canadian production. But there are plenty of women who’ll want to see it. And they’ll be seeing red, not pink.

The thrust of King’s thesis is that all the pink-themed walk-a-thons, parades, singing children and rose-lit monuments (the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls), actually do more harm than good. By putting a warm and fuzzy spin on the state of breast cancer, the public is distracted from some very ugly numbers: In 1940, a woman had a one-in-22 chance of developing breast cancer; today, the number is one in eight. Only 20%-30% of women with breast cancer have high-risk factors, which means no one really knows what causes the disease. The leading foundations involved in funding cancer research are peopled by representatives of the pharmaceutical, chemical and energy industries, so their ethics are inherently compromised.

This article from Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams details where all the Komen money goes. They raise a huge amount of money but only 24% goes to research and yet spends:

a million dollars a year in donor funds” aggressively going after other organizations that dare to use the phrase “for the cure” – including small charities like Kites for a Cure, Par for the Cure, Surfing for a Cure, Cupcakes for a Cure, and even a dog-sledding event called Mush for the Cure.

The Komen foundation is nothing more than a front for corporations. Running for cures, buying pink ribbons and balloons will not find a cure and hasn’t done a damn thing but rake in profits for corporations. Those pink ribbons should make every woman and man (they get breast cancer, too) see red.

Feb 02 2012

Well, you might just be a Red Neck.

Listen up you elitist cheese-eating surrender monkeys.  Chuck Murray (so much less elitist than Charles) of Bell Curve uhh… fame? has a quiz to determine if you are a real ‘murikan or not.

For the record I scored a dismal 59.  Questions in bold.  Scoring in plain type.  My feeble excuses in italic.

Feb 02 2012

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

William Rivers Pitt’s reflection on the 10th anniversary of his first article for truthout is an inspirational message to all writers and why to keep writing more and often.

William Rivers Pitt: This Is What I Know

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.”

~ Mark Twain

A bottle of whiskey, a shot glass, and an article to write.

I’m not going to lie and say this particular combination hasn’t come together before on my desk, but it has been rare enough to be considered special, and here we are. You see, something struck me out of the clear blue a while ago: the very first article of mine Truthout ever published happened somewhere in early 2002, so I did a little digging with the help of my Facebook friends, and hot damn, there it was: “Hell to Pay,” published on January 17, 2002. [..]

Yeah, we have plenty of work to do yet.

The rage is still there.

I said this a long time ago, many times over, but it is worth repeating: I do not expect to see the things I fight for happen in my lifetime. Matters have gone far beyond that. I expect to fail, to die in defeat. That does not matter to me. The fight is worth waging because these things matter, and I intend to give the years I have left to that fight, no matter the outcome. Sooner or later, we will prevail. Write it down; I just did. I probably won’t be here to see it, but victory is its own reward, because a better world is possible, and that is all that matters.

A bottle of whiskey, a shot glass, and an article to write.

Here’s to you, to us, to this.

Here’s to getting it done.

Here’s to the next ten years. May they be better than the last

(emphasis mine)

Michelle Chen: In Year of Uprisings, Reporters Brave Crackdowns from Wall St. to Tahrir Square

You wouldn’t think handling a notebook or a camera could be a hazardous line of work. But according to the latest global Press Freedom Index, abuse and oppression of reporters has made journalism an increasingly risky job in many countries. The past year has even left a notable taint on the U.S. press, despite the country’s mythos as a beacon of free expression.

While the United States certainly hasn’t descended into the ranks of the most oppressive regimes, the watchdog group Reporters without Borders observes that in 2011 the political barriers and outright attacks facing reporters had led to a steep drop in the rankings-27 places down, to number 47:

   In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 [journalists] were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation.

The most high-profile violations of press freedom took place during the Occupy protests, as reporters were abused by police and otherwise stonewalled by authorities.

Robert Reich: The Biggest Risk to the Economy in 2012, and What’s the Economy for Anyway?

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos a few days ago, said the “critical risks” facing the American economy this year were a worsening of Europe’s chronic sovereign debt crisis and a rise in tensions with Iran that could stoke global oil prices.

What about jobs and wages here at home?

As the Commerce Department reported Friday, the U.S. economy grew 2.8 percent between October and December – the fastest pace in 18 months and the first time growth exceeded 2 percent all year. Many bigger American companies have been reporting strong profits in recent months. GE and Lockheed Martin closed the year with record order backlogs.

Yet the percent of working-age Americans in jobs isn’t much different than what it was three years ago. Yes, America now produces more than it did when the recession began. But it does so with 6 million fewer workers.

Robert Sheer: The Democrats Who Unleashed Wall Street and Got Away With It

That Lawrence Summers, a president emeritus of Harvard, is a consummate distorter of fact and logic is not a revelation. That he and Bill Clinton, the president he served as treasury secretary, can still get away with disclaiming responsibility for our financial meltdown is an insult to reason.

Yet, there they go again. Clinton is presented, in a fawning cover story in the current edition of Esquire magazine, as “Someone we can all agree on. … Even his staunchest enemies now regard his presidency as the good old days.” In a softball interview, Clinton is once again allowed to pass himself off as a job creator without noting the subsequent loss of jobs resulting from the collapse of the housing derivatives bubble that his financial deregulatory policies promoted.

Amy Goodman: Romney’s 1 Percent Nation Under God

Although Mitt Romney has yet to win a majority in a Republican primary, he won big in Florida. After he and the pro-Romney super PACs flooded the airwaves with millions of dollars’ worth of ads in a state where nearly half the homeowners are underwater, he talked about whom he wants to represent. “We will hear from the Democrat Party the plight of the poor, and there’s no question, it’s not good being poor,” he told CNN’s Soledad O’Brien. “You could choose where to focus, you could focus on the rich, that’s not my focus. You could focus on the very poor, that’s not my focus. My focus is on middle-income Americans.” Of the very rich, Romney assures us, “They’re doing just fine.” With an estimated personal wealth of $250 million, Romney should know.

Jin Hightower: Newt Gingrich: The Spawn of Citizens United

Wow, January’s gone already — time really flies when you’re having Republican presidential primaries! And what better time than Groundhog Day to poke into that warren of feral Republican ideologues and see what the heck is going on.

Already, four of the GOP contenders have had to drop out — Michele Bachmann because she was just too wacky, Jon Huntsman because he was too sane, Herman Cain because he was too exposed and Rick Perry because he was too dimwitted.

But the greatest surprise is the sudden surge of the Adelson campaign. Little-known until now, Adelson was the big winner in South Carolina, came from nowhere to a second-place finish in the Florida primary, and looks to have the political kick needed to go the distance.

Never heard of Adelson? It consists of the married duo of Sheldon and Miriam, neither of whom are actually on any ballot. Rather, they are running on the Money Ticket.

Joe Conason: What Happened in Florida Won’t Stay in Florida

Mitt Romney’s convincing victory in the Florida primary erased his earlier defeats and perhaps any serious obstacle to his nomination. The question that still troubles party leaders, however, is the damage he will sustain before returning to Tampa in September for their convention.

Triumph could cost Romney much more than the million dollars or so that bought each point of his 46-32 margin over Newt Gingrich. Already the former speaker has shaped the plutocratic image of Romney now visible in national polls. A furious, wounded Gingrich could go still further-demanding, for instance, that Romney release many more years of tax returns.

But the electorate can also learn much about Romney from Ron Paul, if the Texan ever summons the courage to articulate their profound differences on war, national security and defense spending.

Feb 02 2012

$1,023,121.24

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, IF NOT SOONER

Stephen Colbert Wins Democracy!

Kingmaker Pundit Regains Super PAC, Files Financial Report, Takes Nap

BASIC CABLE, NY – After a decades-long battle that spanned nearly two weeks, Stephen Colbert has wrested control of Colbert Super PAC from the clutches of his arch-nemesis and dear friend, Jon Stewart. Colbert then showed his deep commitment to transparency by disclosing the Super PAC’s financial information several hours before being legally required to.

“Colbert Super PAC has brought in a staggering $1,023,121.24, which my accountant explains to me that is a number far above ‘one,’ ‘two,’ ‘five,’ or even ‘many'” said Stephen Colbert, President and Returning Champion of Colbert Super PAC. “We raised it on my show and used it to materially influence the elections – in full accordance with the law. It’s the way our founding fathers would have wanted it, if they had founded corporations instead of just a country.”

Colbert Super PAC sent their forms to the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday at 12:01 AM, making them the first to file on the last filing day. Copies of the form can be found on the internet by Asking Jeeves, or simply clicking here.

Colbert Super PAC, temporarily known as The Definitely Not Coordinating With Stephen Colbert Super PAC, is officially registered as Americans For A Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and is considering changing it again to John Colbert Cougar Super MellenPAC.

Stenography- the fundamental principle of modern journalism.

Feb 02 2012

On This Day In History February 2

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

February 2 is the 33rd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 332 days remaining until the end of the year (333 in leap years).

On this day in 1925, dog sleds reach Nome, Alaska with diphtheria serum, inspiring the Iditarod race.

During the 1925 serum run to Nome, also known as the “Great Race of Mercy,” 20 mushers and about 150 sled dogs relayed diphtheria antitoxin 674 miles (1,085 km) by dog sled across the U.S. territory of Alaska in a record-breaking five and a half days, saving the small city of Nome and the surrounding communities from an incipient epidemic. Both the mushers and their dogs were portrayed as heroes in the newly popular medium of radio, and received headline coverage in newspapers across the United States. Balto, the lead sled dog on the final stretch into Nome, became the most famous canine celebrity of the era after Rin Tin Tin, and his statue is a popular tourist attraction in New York City’s Central Park. The publicity also helped spur an inoculation campaign in the U.S. that dramatically reduced the threat of the disease.

The sled dog was the primary means of transportation and communication in subarctic communities around the world, and the race became both the last great hurrah and the most famous event in the history of mushing, before first aircraft in the 1930s and then the snowmobile in the 1960s drove the dog sled almost into extinction. The resurgence of recreational mushing in Alaska since the 1970s is a direct result of the tremendous popularity of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, which honors the history of dog mushing with many traditions that commemorate the serum run.

Epidemic

The only doctor in Nome and the surrounding communities was Curtis Welch, who was supported by four nurses at the 24-bed Maynard Columbus Hospital. In the summer of 1924, his supply of 80,000 units of diphtheria antitoxin (from 1918) expired, but the order he placed with the health commissioner in Juneau did not arrive before the port closed.

Shortly after the departure of the last ship of the year, the Alameda,[when?] a two-year-old Alaska Native from the nearby village of Holy Cross became the first to display symptoms of diphtheria. Welch diagnosed it as tonsillitis, dismissing diphtheria because no one else in the child’s family or village showed signs of the disease, which is extremely contagious and can survive for weeks outside the body. The child died the next morning, and an abnormally large number of cases of tonsillitis were diagnosed through December, including another fatality on December 28, which is rare. The child’s mother refused to allow an autopsy. Two more Alaska Native children died, and on January 20 the first case of diphtheria was diagnosed in three-year-old Bill Barnett, who had the characteristic grayish lesions on his throat and in his nasal membranes. Welch did not administer the antitoxin, because he was worried the expired batch might weaken the boy, who died the next day.

On January 21, seven-year-old Bessie Stanley was diagnosed in the late stages of the disease, and was injected with 6,000 units of antitoxin. She died later that day. The same evening, Welch called Mayor George Maynard, and arranged an emergency town council meeting. Welch announced he needed at least one million units to stave off an epidemic. The council immediately implemented a quarantine, and Emily Morgan was appointed Quarantine Nurse.

On January 22, 1925, Welch sent a radio telegram via the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System and alerted all major towns in Alaska including the governor in Juneau of the public health risk. A second to the U.S. Public Health Service in Washington, D.C. read:

“An epidemic of diphtheria is almost inevitable here STOP I am in urgent need of one million units of diphtheria antitoxin STOP Mail is only form of transportation STOP I have made application to Commissioner of Health of the Territories for antitoxin already STOP There are about 3000 white natives in the district”

Wings versus paws

At the January 24 meeting of the board of health superintendent Mark Summers of the Hammon Consolidated Gold Fields proposed a dogsled relay, using two fast teams. One would start at Nenana and the other at Nome, and they would meet at Nulato. His employee, the Norwegian Leonhard Seppala, was the obvious and only choice for the 630-mile (1,014 km) round trip from Nome to Nulato and back. He had previously made the run from Nome to Nulato in a record-breaking four days, won the All-Alaska Sweepstakes three times, and had become something of a legend for his athletic ability and rapport with his Siberian huskies. His lead dog Togo was equally famous for his leadership, intelligence, and ability to sense danger.

Mayor Maynard proposed flying the antitoxin by aircraft. In February 1924, the first winter aircraft flight in Alaska had been conducted between Fairbanks and McGrath by Carl Eielson, who flew a reliable De Havilland DH-4 issued by the U.S. Post Office on 8 experimental trips. The longest flight was only 260 miles (420 km), the worst conditions were – 10 F (- 23 C) which required so much winter clothing that the plane was almost unflyable, and the plane made several crash landings.

Aftermath

The death toll is officially listed as either 5, 6, or 7, but Welch later estimated there were probably at least 100 additional cases among “the Eskimo camps outside the city. The Natives have a habit of burying their children without reporting the death.” Forty-three new cases were diagnosed in 1926, but they were easily managed with the fresh supply of serum. (Salisbury, 2003, footnotes on page 235 and 243)

All participants received letters of commendation from President Calvin Coolidge, and the Senate stopped work to recognize the event. Each musher during the first relay received a gold medal from the H. K. Mulford company, and the territory awarded them each USD $25. Poems and letters from children poured in, and spontaneous fund raising campaigns sprang up around the country.

Gunnar Kaasen and his team became celebrities and toured the West Coast from February 1925 to February 1926, and even starred in a 30-minute film entitled Balto’s Race to Nome. A statue of Balto by Frederick Roth was unveiled in New York City’s Central Park during a visit on December 15, 1925. Balto and the other dogs became part of a sideshow and lived in horrible conditions until they were rescued by George Kimble and fund raising campaign by the children of Cleveland, Ohio. On March 19, 1927, Balto received a hero’s welcome as they arrived at their permanent home at the Cleveland Zoo. Because of age, Balto was euthanised on March 14, 1933 at the age of 14. He was mounted and placed on display in the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Feb 02 2012

Imbolc: First Light in the Dark of Winter

What a difference from last year to this. The weather has been unseasonably warm with only one minor snow event since the Winter Solstice here in the Northeast. Already the tips of early spring flowers are pushing up through the mulch. As was observed by our friend, davidseth, mud season has already arrived.

Reposted from January 31, 2011

Although you’d never know it if you looked out your window here in the Northeast and throughout a good part of the northern hemisphere, we are nearing the midpoint between winter solstice and the vernal equinox. The Sun is noticeably rising earlier and setting later. It is a pleasure to take my early morning shower in daylight and start dinner preparation with daylight still illuminating the kitchen. There are seed catalogs arriving in the mail which has me contemplating the flower beds, the herb garden and maybe this year some vegetables.

In the traditions of Pagan and Wiccan religions, we celebrate this changing season as Imbolc, or Candlemas, which begins on January 31st, February Eve, and ends on February 2nd, a time of rebirth and healing. Imbolc is one of the eight Wiccan Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, one of the four cross-quarter fire festivals. Brighid, the patroness of poetry and healing, is the Pagan Goddess associated with Imbolc.

Some of the traditions are the lighting of fires, decorating with red and white symbolizing the snow and the rising sun and green for new growth. Candles are lit in all the rooms of the house. Fires places and hearths are cleaned out of ashes and fires are lit. Since there is still snow drifts in my backyard, the fireplace will be just fine.

The symbols are ewes and lambs since Imbolc is derived from a Celtic word, “oimelc”, meaning ewe’s milk. Many of the foods that are serves are lamb, cheese, poppyseed muffins, cakes and breads. Dishes are seasoned with bay leaves and dried basil.

In rural places where farming is still a way of life, ploughs are decorated with flowers and then doused with whiskey. I know most of us have better things to do with whiskey. Sometimes the plough is dragged from door to door by costumed children asking for food and money, a kind of wintry “trick or treat”. Some traditional gifts, if your going to a friends house to celebrate, are garden tools, seeds and bulbs.

The Maiden is also honored as the “Bride” on this Sabbat. Straw corn dollies are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. The older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold. The wands are sometimes burned in the fireplace and in the morning, the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. A new corn broom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.

Non-Pagans celebrate February 2nd as Ground Hog’s Day, a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be ‘six more weeks’ of bad weather. It actually has ancient roots, weather divination was common to Imbolc, and the weather of early February was long held to be a harbinger of spring. On Imbolc, the crone Cailleach‘s grip of winter begins to loosen. She goes forth in search of kindling so that she may keep her fires burning and extend the winter a little longer. If Imbolc is rainy and cloudy, she will find nothing but twigs unsuitable for burning and will be unable to prolong the winter. If the day is dry and kindling is abundant, she will have plenty of fuel to feed her fire and prolong the cold of winter. Spring will be very far away. As an old British rhyme tells us that, “If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.”

Whatever you celebrate or believe, let us all hope that that the local groundhog doesn’t see his shadow and there is only one winter this year. I have nowhere else to pile the snow.

Blessed Be.

Feb 02 2012

My Little Town 20120201: Raising Children Then and Now

Those of you that read this regular series know that I am from Hackett, Arkansas, just a mile or so from the Oklahoma border, and just about 10 miles south of the Arkansas River.  It was a rural sort of place that did not particularly appreciate education, and just zoom onto my previous posts to understand a bit about it.

There is tremendous betwixt how children were raised 50 years ago and now, whether in a little town or a large city.  Tonight we shall contrast how I was raised to how children today are.  I am not talking so much about the cultural evolution as I am the technology available, but the two are quite entangled.

This is going to be sort of a stream of consciousness set of recollections about how we did things back when I was little and how it is done now.  Most of the topics are everyday activities that families do routinely.