Sunday, April 27, 2008

Stuff to Do and Read

A mining company in Ghana wants to expand a mine that will destroy low-income housing and schools. Sign this petition telling the company to consider the rights of the people.

The World Food Program is cutting it's food donations to Darfur in half. Tell your Congressperson to support full funding of food in Darfur.

Urge your lawmakers to end abstinence-only education funding.

Life expectancy for women in poor counties decreases.

Multiple Pap and HPV tests are needed to assess one's risk of getting cervical cancer.

Mammograms are effective for early detection of breast cancer at any age.

Trading sex for net neutrality
. How does prostitution make the Internet any more neutral?

SELF magazine poll shows nearly 2/3 of women are disordered eaters.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Dan Rather Reports: Wal-Mart & Dalits

As a Verizon FiOS customer, I no longer have MSNBC, but I do have HDNet. I record Dan Rather Reports every day, and this morning, I watched a heart-breaking episode. The first part of the episode is about tapes that have been leaked of the meetings of Wal-Marts managers. According to Wal-Mart lobbyists, every dollar that is donated by a Wal-Mart employee to Wal-Mart's political action committee is matched by the corporation and put into a trust fund for the employees. I don't know what anyone else thinks, but I find that to be clearly unethical.

The second part is about Dalits in India. Dalits are the lowest citizens of the caste system and are oppressed by Indian society. Even though such treatment is illegal, the caste system is still alive and well. I don't even want to explain how these people are treated. It's absolutely disgusting. But you can watch the entire episode for free here. I have to warn you that this portion of the video is highly disturbing, and I bawled throughout the whole thing. Viewer discretion is advised (I've always wanted to say that).

WTF, John McCain?

As we know by know, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act failed to get the necessary 60 votes in the Senate. I was pleased to see that several Republicans voted yes, but not enough did. Someone who did not vote at all was Senator and Republican presidential nominee John McCain. Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, who are also running for president, made it to Washington for the vote. Yesterday, I listed John McCain as someone who doesn't give a shit about women because he didn't vote on the Act at all. And because Clinton and Obama are running campaigns just as much as McCain, I can only assume that McCain would have voted "No" had he voted this week, and what a blemish that would have been on his record. Here's McCain's reasoning for not supporting the bill (but not why he was too cowardly to vote at all):

"I am all in favor of pay equity for women, but this kind of legislation, as is typical of what's being proposed by my friends on the other side of the aisle, opens us up to lawsuits for all kinds of problems."

Lawsuits such as Ledbetter vs. Goodyear, perchance? That's the point, jackass. If pay inequity based on gender is illegal, and a company pays any woman less anyway, that is breaking the law, and breaking the law opens you up to a big, fat, well-deserved lawsuit. That was pretty bad, but at least he has hundreds of years of conservative philosophy backing up his reasoning. But why, oh why, didn't he just stop there?

"They [women] need the education and training, particularly since more and more women are heads of their households, as much or more than anybody else. And it's hard for them to leave their families when they don't have somebody to take care of them.

It's a vicious cycle that's affecting women, particularly in a part of the country like this [Kentucky], where mining is the mainstay; traditionally, women have not gone into that line of work, to say the least."

Um, no. More women than men are enrolled in college. And no matter where you go or what your profession, women are making less than men. And maybe more women will become miners once Elaine Chao stops screwing them over.

If you want to take John McCain to school, sign this petition.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Republicans Fillibuster Fair Pay Act

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act failed to get 60 votes in the Senate yesterday. Here are the Senators that care about women (i.e., they voted YES to fair pay):

Lincoln (D-AR), Pryor (D-AR), Boxer (D-CA), Feinstein (D-CA), Salazar (D-CO), Dodd (D-CT),Lieberman (ID-CT) Hey! How 'bout that!, Biden (D-DE), Carper(D-DE), Nelson (D-FL), Akaka (D-HI), Inouye (D-HI), Durbin (D-IL), Obama (D-IL), Bayh (D-IN), Harkin (D-IA), Landrieu (D-LA), Collins (R-ME), Snowe (R-ME), Cardin (D-MD), Mikulski (D-MD), Kennedy (D-MA), Kerry (D-MA), Levin (D-MI), Stabenow (D-MI), Coleman (R-MN), Klobuchar (D-MN), McCaskill (D-MO), Baucus (D-MT), Tester (D-MT), Sununu (R-NH), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Menendez (D-NJ), Bingaman (D-NM), Clinton (D-NY), Schumer (D-NY), Conrad (D-ND), Dorgan (D-ND), Brown (D-OH), Smith (R-OR), Wyden (D-OR), Casey (D-PA), Specter (R-PA), Reed (D-RI), Whitehouse (D-RI), Johnson (D-SD), Leahy (D-VT), Sanders (I-VT), Webb (D-VA), Cantwell (D-WA), Murray (D-WA), Byrd (D-WV), Rockefeller (D-WV), Feingold (D-WI), Kohl (D-WI)

Here are the Senators who don't give a shit about women (i.e., they voted NO or didn't vote at all):

Sessions (R-AL), Shelby (R-AL), Murkowski (R-AK), Stevens (R-AK), Kyl (R-AZ), McCain (R-AZ -- didn't vote), Allard (R-CO), Martinez (R-FL), Chambliss (R-GA), Isakson (R-GA), Craig (R-ID), Crapo (R-ID), Grassley (R-IA), Brownback (R-KS), Roberts (R-KS), Bunning (R-KY), McConnell (R-KY), Vitter (R-LA), Cochran (R-MS), Wicker (R-MS), Bond (R-MO), Hagel (R-NE -- didn't vote), Ensign (R-NV), Gregg (R-NH), Domenici (R-NM), Burr (R-NC), Dole (R-NC), Voinovich (R-OH), Coburn (R-OK), Inhofe (R-OK), DeMint (R-SC), Graham (R-SC), Thune (R-SD), Alexander (R-TN), Corker (R-TN), Cornyn (R-TX), Hutchison (R-TX), Bennett (R-UT), Hatch (R-UT), Warner (R-VA), Barrasso (R-WY), Enzi (R-WY)

Harry Reid (D-NV) voted NO for "technical reasons" but strongly supports the bill and will bring the bill up at another time. I don't know what those technical reasons are . . . .

Contact your Senators and thank them or tell them you're disappointed, depending on how they voted.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Polygamist Compound, or Fashionista Think Tank?

I know that's what I've been asking myself ever since I heard about the story about that polygamist compound broke. Thank goodness for those liberal wing-nuts at MSNBC for this gem! Here's some stirring analysis that I'm sure every journalism student looks forward to reporting to the masses someday:

Celebrity stylist and salon owner Ted Gibson thinks [the old-fashioned hairdo] gives off a "homely" impression.

"It says 'I don't really care very much. I really don't have time to worry about the way that I look, because I have 20 children,'" Gibson said. "He's going from wife to wife to wife, so why should I look any better than the other ones?"

I think it says "I'm in a cult, and my husband, who's old enough to be my father and who rapes me every day, makes me look like this. Please get me the hell out of here."

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Anti-Choice Federal Judge Nomination

Dubya just doesn't learn, does he?

Bush has nominated another anti-choice weirdo for a lifetime appointment as a federal judge. His name is Robert J. Conrad, Jr., and he's called Planned Parenthood a "radical pro-abortion fringe group." Considering that a whopping 3% of all people who received services from Planned Parenthood received abortions from them, it looks like he's the out-of-touch one. And while the White House says that Conrad is "a highly respected jurist who is widely praised by lawyers and fellow judges alike for his intellect, fairness, and judicial temperament," he actually served on the board of a crisis pregnancy center in Charlottesville. So you have to contact your Senators to reject his nomination.

Things I Forgot to Post About

Since I've been spending most of the weekend writing my paper on Planned Parenthood, I don't have much time to write in-depth posts about things that have happened this week. So here's some light reading for you.

Leslie Bennett on household chores, child-rearing, and married life. "I admit that my husband helps out more than many men, but here’s another news flash: It isn’t because he’s such a fabulously enlightened being. Left to his own devices, he would doubtless park himself in front of the TV like some sitcom male-chauvinist couch potato while I did all the work. The reason Jeremy “helps” as much as he does (an offensive terminology that itself suggests who’s really being held responsible) is simple: He doesn’t have a choice." It's highly disappointing that, in the right margin of this article, is a little slideshow featuring "31 ways to meet a quality man."

The non-story of the so-called abortion artist leaves people feeling duped. A Yale art student claims to have artificially inseminated herself and then induced bleeding -- and it's caught on tape. "Miscarriage" and "abortion" are thrown around in this article, but no one, not even the artist herself, can possibly know for certain that she was ever pregnant to begin with. And isn't that the point?

One student at King Middle School in Maine was prescribed birth control in the last 6 months. I guess that means the presence of birth control options makes kids have sex without birth control. *rolls eyes*

A sheriff at a women's jail in Oklahoma raped enough inmates to possibly be sentenced to 467 years in prison. But his bail was a whopping $50,000. Hmmm . . . .

Some of the women in that polygamist compound might have given birth at 13.
A dirty old man having sex with a 13-year-old = Ewwwwww.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Fun Fact of the Day

And by "fun," I mean "quite disturbing."

Did you know that the United States is one of the only countries that doesn't provide paid maternity leave? Present company includes Swaziland, Papua New Guinea, Lesotho, and Liberia. Yup. I've heard of some of those countries.

Wow, right? I got that bit of information from this article about women leaving the workforce for maternity leave.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Take Action Friday

Tell your Senators to support Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. They vote on it next week!

Endorse the Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

Urge your Representatives to support the GROWTH Act, which helps women get out of poverty by loaning them money to start their own businesses and by giving them skills training.

Call Bill O'Reilly out
on his homophobic bullshit.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

My Beautiful (According to the Patriarchy) Mommy

A new children's book written by cosmetic surgeon Michael Salzhauer seeks to explain to children the process of cosmetic surgery. But what does it really do? Shames mommies.

It features a perky mother explaining to her child why she's having cosmetic surgery (a nose job and tummy tuck). Naturally, it has a happy ending: mommy winds up "even more" beautiful than before, and her daughter is thrilled.

That's a happy ending? I don't know about anybody else, but I thought every little kid believed their mother to be the prettiest woman in the world, and it's not because she adheres to the patriarchal confines of femininity and beauty. This kind of behavior is often modeled by children, particularly daughters, and it can later develop into poor body image and eating disorders. But it's a happy story! Here's more on the book's description:

"My Beautiful Mommy" is aimed at kids ages four to seven and features a plastic surgeon named Dr. Michael (a musclebound superhero type) and a girl whose mother gets a tummy tuck, a nose job and breast implants. Before her surgery the mom explains that she is getting a smaller tummy: "You see, as I got older, my body stretched and I couldn't fit into my clothes anymore. Dr. Michael is going to help fix that and make me feel better." Mom comes home looking like a slightly bruised Barbie doll with demure bandages on her nose and around her waist.

The text doesn't mention the breast augmentation, but the illustrations intentionally show Mom's breasts to be fuller and higher. "I tried to skirt that issue in the text itself," says Salzhauer. "The tummy lends itself to an easy explanation to the children: extra skin and can't fit into your clothes. The breasts might be a stretch for a six-year-old."

The book doesn't explain exactly why the mother is redoing her nose post-pregnancy. Nonetheless, Mom reassures her little girl that the new nose won't just look "different, my dear—prettier!"

So is this book really teaching kids about why women opt for a tummy tuck after pregnancy, or is it merely an advertisement for Dr. Salzhauer's services for the next generation? Now on to the saddest part of the article.

Instead of being uncomfortable about the surgery, [29-year-old mom Gabriela] Acosta says her son actually spoke up about it at a big party. "Did you see her new belly button? It's so pretty!" he said of his mom.

Pretty belly buttons. Yes, I had to read that again too. Because you know your mama ain't shit unless she has the prettiest belly button on the block.

And how many people really believe that Dr. Michael Salzhauer is as buff as the "superhero" cosmetic surgeon called "Dr. Michael" in the story? Someone has issues . . . .

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Are They NUTS??? Actually, No.

If you haven't heard, Randi Rhodes quit Air America Radio last week after being suspended for some sexist comments she made. So from 3pm-6pm, guest hosts have been filling in. And let me say, it's difficult to miss Randi.

This week, actor and conspiracy theorist Richard Belzer is guest hosting, and he had Joshua Kors of The Nation on the show. He broke a story about the US Military denying Iraq War veterans medical benefits, claiming that the physical injuries they suffered in battle were actually due to a Personality Disorder. I know. It doesn't make any sense to us. But it makes perfect sense for a government run by a Republican Commander in Chief, because Personality Disorders are considered preexisting conditions and aren't covered. And the government is saving billions of dollars by doing this. The military has done this more than 5,600 times in the past 6 years. Before you know it, the military will save enough money to pay the richest corporations' tax cuts that John McCain wants to give back -- $1.7 trillion in all! I swear, the most patriotic thing any of these Republicans have ever done is wear a flag pin on their lapels.

Donations for Darfur

This past Sunday was the National Day for Darfur, and demonstrations took place all across the country. I attended one near my hometown. One of my best friends from the Darfur Rehabilitation Project sent me this information about what good your money can do.

  • $35 can provide two high-energy meals a day to 200 children
  • $50 can provide vaccinations for 50 people against meningitis, measles, polio, or other deadly epidemics
  • $100 can provide infection-fighting antibiotics to treat nearly 40 wounded children
  • $250 can provide a sterilization kit for syringes and needles used in mobile vaccination campaigns
  • $1000 can provide emergency medical supplies to aid 5,000 disaster victims for an entire month
Also, I sent my Save Darfur wristbands to David Cook, who is a contestant on American Idol. Hopefully, he'll receive them by tomorrow and wear one on the show. I asked him to wear one and give the other to an influential person of his choosing. So keep your eyes open on Tuesday and Wednesday for the green wristbands. I'm hoping that David Cook's fans (there are officially 876 of us as of today) will see that he cares about Darfur and will learn more about the crisis there and help to end it.

UPDATE: Not tonight . . . . I'm not worried though. They should get there by tomorrow.
UPDATE: Not tonight either, although last year's second runner-up, Eliot Yamin, was wearing a green wristband. I don't think it was one of mine or a different Save Darfur one, though, just a fluke.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Midnight Quickie: Question

If the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply in domestic military operations, then can that sort of reasoning be used to overturn Roe v. Wade? It seems to me that suspending the Fourth Amendment in this case is a bit of a surprise. It actually sounds like someone just made that up on a whim in order to, I don't know, justify warrantless wiretapping or racial profiling in airports and other transportation hubs. So how can I be be sure that someone won't conclude that the Fourth Amendment has no application when it comes to reproduction?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Update on My Planned Parenthood Presentation

A couple of days ago I told you that I'm doing a presentation on Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan New Jersey for my Community Agencies class. That's on Monday, April 14. That's just two days before Pro-Life Day, which is next Wednesday. Perfect timing, no?

They're having a so-called "Pro-Life Baby Shower," and people are expected to donate baby items for a local crisis pregnancy center. I kind of want to donate a giant box of condoms.

John McCain on American Idol

This week, American Idol hosted their second annual "Idol Gives Back" benefit, which raises money for children in the United States and Africa. The three candidates for president taped messages for viewers urging us to give. Now, I've been told more than once to stop talking about politics on the American Idol message boards (I can't help myself -- a Barack Obama/David Cook ticket just can't lose!), but after listening to John McCain, talking politics should be fair game.

American Idol is a lot like a presidential primary election: Except for people who live in Michigan and Florida, their votes actually count.

Technically, no primary votes count. It's not like they're carried over to the general election (and McCain should be glad about that). I just find it hilarious that McCain can talk about Democratic primary votes not counting in Michigan and Florida being bad, but it's just fine and dandy that votes weren't counted in Florida in the 2000 presidential election or in Ohio in the 2004 presidential election. And what about the possibility of votes being switched by those voting machines? I'm sure the Republicans aren't trying to fix that kink any time soon.

Republicans rigging two consecutive presidential elections = Good.

The Democratic candidates not picking up delegates in Michigan and Florida = Bad.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Morning Quickie: Take Action

Farmworkers in Florida who pick tomatoes for fast food chains are asking to be paid an extra penny per pound. Even though this is Florida, USA we're talking about, these farmworkers still only make on average $10,000 a year and are not allowed to form unions. Other fast food restaurants, like McDonald's, have worked with the Coalition of Immokalee workers, but Burger King refuses to do so. Go give them a piece of your mind.

Tell Jack Murtha "No more funding for the war in Iraq."

Gordon Brown is skipping the opening ceremonies of the summer Olympics in China. Urge President Bush to do the same.

If you think Bush is going to attend the Olympics no matter what we tell him, sign this Amnesty International petition telling him to at least put pressure on China's government to improve human rights.

Tell the House subcommittee
to fund international family planning.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Oh, Only 10,000 People Have Been Killed in Darfur? Well, in that Case . . . .

I kept forgetting to post about this because I've been so busy with schoolwork. Rest assured, I compensate my lack of postings by presenting on feminist topics in my classes. I nailed a presentation that I did for my counselor ethics class. It was about ethical decision making in diagnosing potentially stigmatizing mental disorders, and I based the ethical dilemma off of a transgender child in Colorado that got some bad press from Neil Cavuto and his viewers. On Monday, I'll be presenting on Planned Parenthood for my Community Agencies class. Catholic university and Planned Parenthood -- woo hoo! I'm sure I'm going to get the look once I open up my PowerPoint presentation. You know, the Planned Parenthood look. So that's what I've been doing.

Anywho, human rights organizations and the Sudanese government have been quibbling over how many people have really been genocided* out of Darfur. Human rights groups have been saying that between 200,000 and 400,000 have been killed, but the Sudanese government says that the death toll is less than 10,000. I guess people have to choose between believing the organizations that provide aid to the refugees in Darfur and the government who arms the radical militias that are killing these people. That's a tough one.

But it's not just the government of Sudan that doesn't believe that the violence is so bad after all. Jay Williams, a former Harvard student who helped free thousands of slaves in Sudan, spoke at my college when I was a senior. I had the pleasure of meeting him (because I played an important and hilarious role in getting the college to sponsor the event), and he told us that some people that he talked to didn't believe that such a huge number of people could be killed. They were hesitant to donate money because they weren't sure if hundreds of thousands of people were indeed being slaughtered. Because I guess people have to see the bodies before they wake the fuck up. It's sad.

With that said, the House and Senate are considering appropriations bills this month. Make sure they include critical funding for peacekeepers and aid to Sudan.

*That's not a word, but it should be.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Rush Limbaugh on Feminism

I don't have MSNBC anymore, now that we've switched to Verizon Fios. So I've been missing my beloved Keith Olbermann every night. The above video is of last night's Worst Persons in the World segment. Rush Limbaugh came in second with this gem about feminism:

[Hillary Clinton's female supporters] think they're owed this, women have paid their dues, they married two or three times, they had two or three abortions, they've done everything feminism has asked them to do.

*gasp* Am I not a proper feminist according to Rush Limbaugh? I'm melting . . . melting. I don't even want to get married or become pregnant. I must be the perfect woman according to Rush then. Now I kind feel like I have to take a shower. Here was Keith's hilarious retort:

That's comedian Rush Limbaugh saying that, after being married 3 times and having had not children. Apparently he has done everything feminism has asked him to do.

Randi Rhodes Gets Suspended for Sexist Comments

via HuffPo

Air America Radio host Randi "I Don't Endorse a Candidate until the DNC Does (NOT!)" Rhodes has been suspended for calling both Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton "fucking whores." Was it the appropriate action? Of course. So why doesn't Fox News, CNN, and WABC* follow suit? Is it because their conservative commentators are entitled to make racist, sexist, and homophobic remarks? Honestly, as much as these so-called Christians of the religious wrong say they answer to a higher power, they can't even uphold any sort of journalistic integrity. It's like the party of God and personal responsibility has respect for neither!

Anyway, I listen to Randi. I don't think she's funny. She's just on when I'm driving to class. I actually prefer the people who fill in for her once in a while, Stacy Taylor and Sam Seder. I've been listening to her less and less, because she's basically the Rush Limbaugh of the left. But hey, I have to listen to something while I'm driving to school, and it ain't gonna be Hannity.

*That's the radio station that Rush and Sean Hannity have their syndicated talk shows. I'm not sure it's called WABC everywhere.