Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Bad cop, bad cop.

From this blogsite: "Any time a law enforcement officer is accused of tarnishing the badge, it is an embarrassment to all the honest, hard-working members of this profession who work day in and day out to protect and serve with integrity." I discovered What Happened to Protect and Serve? when I was trying to track down earlier news items about James Talford, in regard to this:

A former member of a New York state police anti-terrorism unit has been ordered to stay away from two Canadian women he was accused of harassing.

A Buffalo City Court judge granted 45-year-old James Talford of Clarence a conditional discharge Tuesday on his guilty plea to non-criminal violation counts of harassment and disorderly conduct.

The judge also issued orders of protection to both women.

Talford was an investigator with the Buffalo office of the state police counterterrorism intelligence unit when he was arrested in late July. [His] lawyer said he retired from the state police about a month ago after 21 years with the agency.

It must have been terrifying for the women he harassed. I'm presuming that Talford said some very disturbing things that were likely recorded, in order for charges to be laid and for the case to come before a judge. He probably didn't phone to beg them to take him along the next time they indulged in a cross-border shopping spree. No. It's likely he threatened them. And when a guy who works with a state police counterterrorism intelligence unit threatens you, it's frightening. And serious.

So. Back to that blogsite. There are 62 posts with a 'death from Taser' label and an item about Inspector Steve Izzet - head of the Toronto police intelligence unit. Umm, what is it about 'intelligence units'? Is that where the dickheads get parked when none of the other units will take them? Izzet faces serious charges. According to this, a tribunal hearing was scheduled for the end of April. That was almost 6 months ago, there's been nothing in the news since then.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Palin's Ghost (Writer)

Sarah Palin had help writing her MASSIVE autobiography. And according to a blog at the Christian Science Monitor, Sarah chose well when she chose Lynn Vincent as her hack helper.

Here's how the blogpost starts:
By now, you’ve probably heard the news. Sarah Palin – prolific Facebook user, Twitter poet, and former Alaskan governor – is writing a book.

(Tee hee. 'Twitter poet' is a link taking you to a previous blogpost on William Shatner's hilarious poetic rendition of Sarah's farewell speech.)

Not only is Vincent an author whose work sells very well, she's also politically in synch with Sarah.
A review of Vincent’s most recent stories in World [Magazine] reveals a strong focus on abortion, religion, and gay marriage.

The rightwingnutz are slavering.

ADDED for those who haven't seen the Shatner performance and for those who want to see it again.

OOPSIE. Wrong YouTube. Here's the orginal.

A new take on Purity Balls?

Making the rounds on the Islamophobic sex-crazed rightwingnut side of the blogosphere (here's a rather mild Canadian example) are posts based on this BBC report.
A leading Egyptian scholar has demanded that people caught importing a female virginity-faking device into the country should face the death penalty.

Abdul Mouti Bayoumi said supplying the item was akin to spreading vice in society, a crime punishable by death in Islamic Sharia law.

The device is said to release liquid imitating blood, allowing a female to feign virginity on her wedding night.

It is manufactured in China and is reported to be on sale in Syria for $15.

Look at all the goodies packed in there for the shrieeeeking hateslingers.

Death penalty -- probably by beheading -- for importing an innocuous product? Barbaric!

Women needing to fake virginity? Sluts! Atrocious treatment of women under Islam!

Weird obsession with virginity? Hmmm. That one is OK with the wingnutz because they are too.

So, I went looking for a description of the device and found that I missed it when it hit the Intertoobz last December via the Frisky.

From Our Bodies Our Blog:
According to the product description, once inserted the device “will expand a little and make you feel tight. When your lover penetrate [sic], it will ooze out a liquid that look [sic] like blood not too much but just the right amount. Add in a few moans and groans, you will pass through undetectable.”

The post included a link to a company offering it, but, sadly, the link no longer works.

Given that it is made in China -- a place not known for its purity of manufacturing standards -- it would be a pretty desperate woman who felt she had to try to fake her virginity using it. Let alone any worry about the death penalty for importing it.

But then being a woman in a society -- any society -- that treats its women like second-class citizens is often a desperate business.

There. A feminist has spoken.

Guns'n No Roses

South Carolina is a mighty special US state. It holds a special place in the heart of many Canadians because of the beauty of the seashore and its beaches, but dang! it is one squirrely place when guns or sex are mixed in with its politics.

For many candidates the road to public office means fundraisers, shaking hands, kissing babies, and firing machine guns? Well, firing machine guns may not be that common on the campaign trail but a man running for South Carolina’s Adjutant General decided to use machine gun fire to get votes.

“You know most political candidates, republican side in particular, they want to get out to the country club and stand around with a glass of wine in their hand,“ said candidate Dean Allen. He held a “machine gun social” at Allen Arms Indoor Range in Greenville.

For 25 dollars, donor to his campaign got barbecue and a chance to fire a machine gun of their choice. “Well I wanted a place where we could have some fun,“ said Allen.

Allen chose the venue because it relects his emphasis on Second Amendment rights. The Adjutant General is responsible for overseeing South Carolina’s defense forces. Allen says that, if elected, he would try to increase funding for the National Guard. He also advocated bringing the National Guard home from Afghanistan to help control illegal immigration.

“The plan on paper says the national guard will reinforce law enforcement,“ said Allen. “Well if the National Guard is in Afghanistan it can’t do that.“ Allen is countin (sic) on his pro gun-ownership stance to help him win votes.

Did we mention that Allen shindig also included a raffle to win a Kalashnikov? The assault weapon was in the news recently because the Russian weapons manufacturing company is facing bankruptcy; the revenue-deprived army has stopped placing orders and cheap AK-47 knock-offs manufactured in China and Eastern Europe are flooding the arms market.

We wonder if the Kalashnikov that Allen raffled off is the real thing.

Monday, 28 September 2009

Goin' Rogue?

Which should not be confused with "going Galt".

One is the purported title of Sarah Palin's 'memoir'. The other is a threat by teabaggers, rabid neocons, rightwing religious fundamentalists and sore loser Republicans to go out to their backyards to eat worms, if I catch their drift.

"Going rogue" is what McCain insiders called Palin's behaviour in the last weeks of the 2008 presidential campaign. In the wild, elephants are said to go rogue when they separate from the herd and go off on their own, running amok and creating havoc. According to this, it's the adolescent males who are prone to going rogue; perhaps the Republicans were thinking of Mrs Jumbo, Dumbo's mother?

In any event, getting back to Palin's book:

Publication is being moved up from spring to Nov. 17 in order to catch the holiday book-buying season. The former Alaska governor has been in huge demand as a speaker, and continues to harvest a bounty of media attention.

A mammoth first printing of 1.5 million copies has been ordered — the same first run as “True Compass,” the memoir of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

Palin had a deadline of Sept. 15 for her manuscript and turned it in a bit early. Copy-editing and fact-checking are now underway in a race to meet the crash publishing schedule, which has been accelerated four or five months because of the huge anticipated demand.

Should be sumtin'. Just one itsy bitsy question. Is mammoth a literary term for MASSIVE?

Real choice for childcare

Every mother is a working mother. Remember that feminist affirmation from the 70s? In Québec, a popular play about stay-at-home mothers was entitled "Maman travaille pas; elle a trop d'ouvrage." - translation: Mom doesn't have a job; she's got too much work at home.

We had hoped that in spite of small gains, the world had moved beyond prejudices about working mothers, that things had evolved and some obstacles had been removed.

It would appear that Britain has taken a big step backwards. Two female detective constables were threatened with prosecution if they didn't drop the reciprocal child care support they've arranged with each other over 2 years.

The Children's Minister has ordered a review of the case of two police officers told they had broken the law by caring for each other's children.

Ofsted said the arrangement contravened the Childcare Act because it lasted for longer than two hours a day, and constituted receiving "a reward". It said the women would have to be registered as childminders.

Minister Vernon Coaker said his department was talking to Ofsted about this particular case. According to the Mail on Sunday, Ofsted told two detective constables, Leanne Shepherd, from Milton Keynes, and Lucy Jarrett, from Buckingham, to end their arrangement.

'Stunned' Ms Shepherd told the newspaper: "When the Ofsted inspector turned up, the first thing she said was: 'I have had a report that you're running an illegal childminding business'. "I straightaway thought she must be mistaken, so invited her into my home to explain we were police officers and best friends helping each other out. "But she told me I was breaking the law and must end the arrangement with Lucy immediately. "I was stunned, completely devastated... I couldn't see how I could continue working."

Reward is not just a case of money changing hands. The supply of services or goods and, in some circumstances, reciprocal arrangements can also constitute reward Ofsted spokesman. ...

Thames Valley Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said the pair had its "full support". Secretary Andy Viney said: "Both of them are experienced professional officers. "They just want to return to work after having children and have found that the system is working totally against them.

Ofsted is the Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills which inspects and regulates care for children and young people in Britain. Someone used the whistleblower's hotline to rat out Leanne and Lucy. Did this busy-body think their children were at risk, being cared for by their own mothers and a close family friend? Was it an envious neighbour or perhaps a sexist colleague?

The BBC News has an interview with officers Shepherd and Jarrett,
here. And more at the Daily Mail and the Guardian.

As much as I hate to agree with Margaret Thatcher, this seems to me like the worst of a "nanny state" type of interference. Mind-boggling.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

That Elephant Is So Gay!

While other bloggers have posted on the elephant-statue silliness at the Calgary Zoo, at first I wanted to post about it too because I love the photo.

Short recap: Kristian nutbar group complains that the statue -- which has been there for two years -- demonstrated 'selective religious partiality' on the Zoo's part. Zoo says: Nertz to you. Must have been a slow news day or maybe photo editors liked the photo too because this silliness gets media coverage.

But who is this Kristian nutbar group? It is Concerned Christians Canada.

From its website (extraneous semi-colon included):
Concerned Christians Canada (CCC) is; working at preserving Christian and parental freedoms, standing as a voice for the unborn and the afflicted, encouraging traditional family values, and pressing for moral leadership in all positions of authority and influence. CCC is also involved in speaking out for Christians who are being persecuted in Canada and speaking out for the rights of the poor.

OK. Now let's hear from wiki:
The group is actively opposed to same sex marriage and operates under a for-profit funding framework.

While the outfit is now fronted by a man named Jim Blake, it was founded by Craig Chandler, whose present connections to the group, according to wiki, are unknown.

Craig Chandler, Craig Chandler. Why does that name seem familiar?

More from wiki:
Chandler, who is from Ontario, caused controversy in August 2007 for comments stating, "You came to here to enjoy our economy, our natural beauty and more. This is our home and if you wish to live here, you must adapt to our rules and our voting patterns or leave. Conservatism is our culture. Do not destroy what we have created.". This statement was strongly criticized by some, including the Premier of Alberta, Ed Stelmach.

Lightbulb! The 'we-don't-need-no-steenking-libtards-in-Alberta' guy.

But wait, there's more.

Chandler also ran for the leadership of the Conservative Party, but there were 'concerns'.
One concern was Chandler's association with a conservative Christian organization (the Concerned Christian Coalition), a group vocally opposed to homosexuality and gay rights. Chandler had been CEO of the organization when a letter was published in the Red Deer Advocate in 2002 by a member of that organization (Stephen Boissoin). In that letter ("Homosexual Agenda Wicked") Boisson suggested that homosexuals were as immoral as pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps, and that gay activists were "perverse, morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease". After numerous complaints the matter was referred to the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC). During the Commission's hearing in July 2007 Boissoin testified that Chandler was aware of the letter and supported him. On November 30, 2007, the AHRC ruled that the letter broke provincial human rights law and exposed gays to hatred and contempt. In the 81-page decision, Lori Andreachuk of the AHRC wrote "In my view, it is clear that the letter expresses hatred or contempt for a group of persons on the basis of their sexual preference". Prior to the decision and as part of a settlement with the AHRC, Chandler agreed to remove the letter from websites he controlled and further agreed to "cease and desist" from posting messages on the internet stating that homosexuals conspire against society, are sick, diseased or mentally ill, and want to have sex with children. As part of the settlement with the AHRC, Chandler was required to post a formal apology on his website as well as the terms of the settlement.

So, it seems that Concerned Christians are mostly obsessed concerned about teh Gay.

Why then the concern over Ganesha?

I read that wiki entry and found that Ganesha is a pretty groovy god, patron of arts and sciences and the deva of intellect and wisdom. OK, I can see how a god who cares about arts, science, wisdom, and intellect would get up the collective nose of a bunch of pig-ignorant fundies, but I couldn't find any connection to homosexuality.

Until I hit the bit about how he came to have an elephant head. There are several variants to the tale, including this one:
Another story says that Ganesha was created directly by Shiva's laughter. Because Shiva considered Ganesha too alluring, he gave him the head of an elephant and a protruding belly.

'Nother lightbulb!

He found him alluring??!!!?!1? Off with his head!

Ya think this is the connection between raving homophobes and a joyous statue at a zoo?

Nah, me neither.

BONUS! My sweetie, who is a sculptor, was curious about the piece. I found a link with lots more photos. No mention of the sculptor.

Another Side of Choice.

As you may recall from this previous post, I have an ambivalent view of headlines. So when this one caught my attention, I heard the siren's song. Or the muse's muttering.

A US woman who was implanted with the wrong embryo in a fertility treatment mix-up has given birth to a boy.

Carolyn Savage and her husband Sean said in a statement that the baby was delivered at St Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. Mrs Savage, who had been told about the mix-up in February, said the family was "going through a very difficult time".

The Savages have decided to give the baby to his biological parents, Shannon and Paul Morell from Michigan. The Savages, who have three children, offered their "heartfelt congratulations" to the Morells.

Carolyn Savage chose to carry to term an embryo that had no genetic connection to her. She did it for her own personal reasons, it was difficult but nobody forced her to do it. Does anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together out there believe that Blob Blogging Wingnut understands the difference between Carolyn Savage's choice and punishing rape victims by obliging them to carry a pregnancy to term? No, I don't think SHE would get it either.

As for Carolyn Savage, she appears to have more real compassion than BBW will ever understand.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Reign in Spain

... of rightwing fundamentalist catholic clergy has been challenged by the very secular (and socialist) government.

[C]ontroversial reforms to the country's abortion law ... would allow women as young as 16 to undergo the procedure without parental consent.

The proposal was passed at a cabinet meeting despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, the conservative opposition Popular Party and even many supporters of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's Socialist Party. The measure now will to go to parliament for approval, Deputy Prime Minister Maria Teresa Fernandez de la Vega told a news conference.

Under the proposed reforms, abortions would be allowed for women of 16 and over on demand up to the 14th week of pregnancy, and up to 22 weeks if there is a risk to the mother's health or if the foetus is deformed. Women can also undergo the procedure after 22 weeks if the foetus has a serious or incurable illness.

"We want to offer minors as much protection as possible and the most respect for their basic rights," said de la Vega.

The existing law introduced in 1985, a decade after the death of right-wing dictator Francisco Franco, only allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal malformation and when a pregnant woman's mental or physical health is deemed to be at risk if the pregnancy goes to term.

It appears the medieval control of the catholic church which has, since the Inquisition prevailed and more recently in complicity with Franco, dictated its doctrine almost as law is slipping. The rule of Vatican Taliban and its own version of sharia law may soon be an odd artifact and relic of Spain's past.

But would you let your daughter marry one?

This is up at Alternet, so I assume it is true.

Nonetheless, it's incredible.
A local authority in Israel has announced that it is establishing a special team of youth counselors and psychologists whose job it will be to identify young Jewish women who are dating Arab men and "rescue" them.

The move by the municipality of Petah Tikva, a city close to Tel Aviv, is the latest in a series of separate -- and little discussed -- initiatives from official bodies, rabbis, private organisations and groups of Israeli residents to try to prevent interracial dating and marriage.

In a related development, the Israeli media reported this month that residents of Pisgat Zeev, a large Jewish settlement in the midst of Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem, had formed a vigilante-style patrol to stop Arab men from mixing with local Jewish girls. . . .

In 2004, posters sprang up all over the northern town of Safed warning Jewish women that dating Arab men would lead to "beatings, hard drugs, prostitution and crime."

Safed's chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, told a local newspaper that the "seducing" of Jewish girls was "another form of war" by Arab men.

Both Kiryat Gat and Safed's campaigns were supported by a religious organisation called Yad L'achim, which runs an anti-assimilation team publicly dedicated to "saving" Jewish women. . . .

The degree of general opposition in Israel to interracial marriage was suggested by a government-backed television ad campaign earlier this month that urged Israeli Jews to inform on relatives abroad who were in danger of marrying a non-Jew. The ads were hastily withdrawn by surprised Israeli officials after many US Jews took offence.

One of the commenters said: 'You gotta love how Israel keeps digging itself deeper into irony.'

Me, I don't know what to say.

Honour Killing - sadly for rightwingnutz, it's not Rifqa Bary

In August we wrote about Rifqa Bary and how rightwing christian fundamentalists in the US were exploiting her.

Bene Diction Blogs On updates the story this month, with links to serious media and blogs who went digging for real information beyond the FauxNews hyperbole. Other christians express caution, with regard to the political manipulation - here, for example.

And as for the blatant "honour" killing of Julie Crocker, her throat allegedly slashed by her estranged husband, where's all the shrieeeking from 'tough on crime' rightwing neocons like Naomi Lakritz?

Chris Little tracked his former wife with a GPS device. ... He even bought a product called Check Mate from a spy store to test her clothing for semen, a jury heard. [...] the Crown painted the 37-year-old Toronto-area fibreglass salesman as a jilted, obsessed ex-husband who killed his ex-wife and a second woman, then made a clumsy attempt to portray it as a murder-suicide.

Oh wait. Chris Little isn't a moozlim, is he?

Where's Larry?

That Lawrence "Larry" Cannon is just full of surprises. From CC at Canadian Cynic we hear that he's planning to give Gadhafi a piece of his mind when the Lybian leader's plane lands in Newfoundland next week to re-fuel.

The ReformaTories have a bizarre approach to international politics. There was Maxime "Unzipped" Bernier who handled confidential documents with the same grace and sense he used in conducting his personal affairs. Larry was MIA during the Abousfian Abdelrazik situation which seemingly was resolved in spite of his desultory neglect of the case.

And Harper held a press conference at an Oakville Tim Hortons while world leaders spoke at the United Nations assembly. I think that was engineered in the hopes Ignatieff might label him as some Western Canada hayseed with no international creds. And the Cons could have pulled a gotcha! and leveraged that response to their advantage.

That didn't happen because the media and most Canadians are on to the Con; Stevie grew up in Toronto and acquired his Alberta neocon identity as a young adult. He's a Con-vert with serious self-confidence issues, needing galleries and Harper government websites jammed with his photographs to bolster his fragile ego.

Update: I predict that Larry will call this a great victory and an achievement. It seems Gadhafi's advance team has changed the original plan that called for a stop in Newfoundland and rerouted his flight.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Domestic terrorism begins at home.

The abomination that is also known as intimate violence can be prevented and the cycle that condemns generation after generation to suffering and despair, if not death, can be stopped - with the appropriate resources - and co-ordinated services. Yet -

The B.C. government has cut funding to domestic violence programs, including a service for traumatized children in Victoria, just as a report yesterday demanded better support and co-ordination of those services.

The province's Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General has slashed $440,000 in funding this year to groups that provide counselling and support for battered women and children. ...The criticism fell on the same day as a damning report by B.C.'s Child and Youth Representative, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who said the province's system for handling domestic violence lacks proper co-ordination.

"There's no question in my mind that co-ordinating the system and that making it effective is going to take resources," said Turpel-Lafond. "It's going to take better alignment and co-ordination of what we already have. It's also going to take ... more investment."

Turpel-Lafond was entrusted with finding how Christian Lee, his mother and his grandparents could be murdered by his father.

She found a safety net with gaping holes and blamed not the many individuals who were connected with the case, but a provincial government that has not co-ordinated domestic violence programs or given teeth to family law.

Social workers, medical staff, officers from three different police departments, Crown counsel, therapists and lawyers were among those who knew of Sunny Park's fears. She warned that her estranged husband might kill the boy and pleaded for protection.

Navigating an unfamiliar system in a language she struggled to comprehend, she heard conflicting advice on how to safeguard against Peter Lee in her final six weeks as he stalked her while under a court order to stay away.

"Sunny confided a history of escalating violence and abuse. Despite her desperate dread that she would be murdered, responsibility for her safety plan was placed solely on her shoulders," Ms. Turpel-Lafond wrote. "Christian was not safe because his mother was not safe."

Meanwhile in Toronto, the trial of Chris Little who is charged first-degree murder in the deaths of his estranged wife, Julie Crocker, and of another woman, Paula Menendez has started. The women's bodies were found in Little and Crocker's home in 2007. The Crown will be presenting a jury with evidence in support of its allegation that Little kidnapped Menendez, brought her to his estranged wife's house, and killed them both - staging their deaths to make it appear as though one killed the other.

More here.

So, what's with the standard misogynist saying: "Hell hath no fury like a women scorned" which is usually screeched with testerical force by Men's Rights Advocates?

What about the cold, calculated, murderous fury of those who need to control and punish women - and are willing to harm others in order to achieve their goals?


Forty days of Harassment is on!

Today, I passed the women's clinic on Gerrard, one of two targets in Toronto, twice by streetcar. At about 12:30, two dried-up old prunes (DUOPs), one male, one female. About 3:30, one DUOP, male. I wasn't paying enough attention to be able to say whether it was the 12:30 DUOP.

MASSIVE turn-out. :p

Hilarious and Useful. Too. Also.

Check out John Cole's lexicon.

Via The Vanity Press. Thanks again, Chet.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Liar, Liar - Penis on Fire!

LuLu over at Canadian Cynic has a pithy post about the competition that Blob Blogging Wingnut seems to be cranking up with Lily White Rose.

On a
video over at unrepentant old hippie, Lily White goes full metal Ms Hyde as she suggests that women who seek legal abortions should be provided with them in public view, much like Robespierre's political opponents were beheaded in front of mobs during La Terreur.

SUZY ALL-CAPS tries to outdo her in the gynophobia and religious zealotry arena with her gleeful little jig over the plight of women who are impregnated by their rapists. Force them to stay pregnant SHE declares.

Well, isn't that all too Authoritarian and Punitive. One might also wonder if Lily White and BBW aren't getting a little too big in their britches, acting all Gawd-like the way they are.

And sitting in Judgement! Much like that Sergeant, formerly head of the Sexual Offenses Squad of a metropolitan Police Department in BC, whose deliberate negligence and unprofessional conduct likely caused the loss and/or contamination of evidence that would have strengthened the crown attorney's case against Fernando Manuel Alves. His case, or a number of cases that involved women who were allegedly drugged then sexually assaulted.

Isn't it interesting how the misogynist cop and Blob Blogging Wingnut share the same value system?

Which brings us to folks who don't believe that it's women who should be blamed and publicly shamed.
This Good Guy gets it.
When 20 year old Stuart Feltham tried to assault a 26 year old local girl on the Greek island of Crete, she first politely asked him to stop. Like most people, she was not impressed by a drunk British tourist dropping his pants and waving his genitals around. Her requests went unanswered, so she poured a glass of Sambuca on him. Even that wasn't enough for this guy to get the message, and when he continued harassing her, she set fire to the alcohol (and his genitals) - causing severe second degree burns.
If Alves doesn't stop his campaign of sexual terrorism against women, aka serial rape, it would certainly be a shame if in the course of his committing yet another "crime of opportunity" one of his victims accidentally - because of her drugged state - set his penis on fire.

Michigan Murders: Locals Respond to Congressional Honour

The local paper, Argus Press, reports on the resolution in the US Congress 'honouring' murdered abortion-activist, James Pouillon.

The report notes that the other victim, businessman Mike Fuoss, was not mentioned.

There are comments, some at least seemingly from locals. Most of them are not very positive about Mr Pouillon's contribution to the community.

It seems the canonization drive is somewhat stymied.

Here, BTW, is what Pouillon's daughter (or someone using her name) had to say:
Mary Jo Pouillon wrote on Sep 24, 2009 10:32 AM:
" It was more than just a random drive by shooting, and this is why my dad is being honored. I'm sorrty that another man was murdred also, but he was not murdered for his beliefs. My dad was a GOOD man and a wonderful father! I am sick of being forgoten in all of this. I miss him a lot! I read the paper, I read the comments people leave. I have been orphaned. How would you feel if you were in my shoes? I LOVE MY DAD! He stood up for the Gospel, he stood up for the innocent being led to slaughter, and he ALWAYS stood up for me! He never missed a visitation, never missed a child support payment (they came directly out of his pay before he got his check), he never missed a track meet. He helped raise his grandchildren for 2.5 years. He made more sacrafices in his life then should be expected from a person. Do not try to tell me he was anything but a good man, you never lived with him. You never had him fly to CA to watch you compete. You never had him give you a vehicle to go to college. You never had him pay your remaining tuition. You never watch him shop at Goodwill so you could buy brand new. You never had him scratch your back when you didn't even ask. Enough is enough. Let my dad rest in peace, and PLEASE let me live in peace! "

Live in peace, eh? Quite unlike your father's attitude, Mary Jo.

A sincere apology is even better.

From here:

Economists have found that companies who simply say sorry to angry customers fare better than those that offer financial compensation. The ploy works even though the recipient of the apology seldom gets it from the person who made it necessary in the first place.

The study was carried out by the Nottingham School of Economics' Centre for Decision Research and Experimental Economics. Academics set out to show whether customers who have been let down continue to do business after being offered an apology.

They discovered people are more than twice as likely to forgive a company that says sorry than one that just offers them money.

Others have discovered this "ploy" - as the bean-counters might call it - is particularly effective if in fact it demontrates a genuine sense of accountability on the part of the organization that presents it.

Health care practitioners are particularly concerned; malpractice insurance premiums in some medical specialties have led to a decline in the number of obstetricians, for example.

In order to navigate the question of the admission of responsibility and the subsequent expression of an apology, medical ethicists and jurists have studied cases and have tested scenarios.

Lee Taft, a former trial attorney and now an ethicist and expert on apology, believes that for an apology to be "authentic," it must contain the following ingredients: an acknowledgment that a rule has been violated; an admission of fault for its violation; an expression of genuine remorse and regret for any harm caused by the violation; and an explicit offer of restitution and promise of reform.

Taft further points out that the rendering of an authentic apology demands great courage from the party who has erred because that individual must not only acknowledge wrongdoing but also subject himself or herself to the consequences that result from the admission, including potential litigation. An apology that includes only an expression of sympathy without an admission of wrongdoing and offer of compensation is not an authentic apology. Rather, according to Taft, it is an "apologia," a term defined in the modern business environment as "a strategic communication designed not only to convey information, but more importantly, to neutralize the potential negative ramifications that might otherwise result from the information given."

An apologia, in other words, is simply a "full justification of one's position coupled with a defensive strategy." An authentic apology must include repentance, which encompasses two essential elements: the expression of sorrow and the admission of wrongdoing. The absence of either, concludes Taft, renders the apology incomplete and thus transforms it into a "botched apology."

Like this one? Fundamentalist religious zealots would often rather poison the well than apologize honestly and sincerely for the harm they do.

Fortunately, a growing number of compassionate health care professionals have chosen to approach the thorny issue of medical error pro-actively. My physician daughter tipped me off to this change in the way her colleagues are rising to the challenge.

Dr. Michael Woods, a surgeon in Colorado and author of ''Healing Words: The Power of Apology in Medicine," said his own experience a decade ago illustrates the impact of the traditional way doctors have handled mistakes. ... Now a consultant to doctors and the malpractice insurance industry, Woods said his research has shown that being upset with a doctor's behavior often plays a bigger role than the error itself in patients' decisions to sue.

Canadians are not as litigation-crazy as US citizens are. But beyond financial considerations, a genuine and heart-felt apology is a critical element in the healing process, whether a medical error is at cause or inhumane religious dogma as is too often the case with the Vatican Taliban.

Religious Right vs Religious Left

We at DAMMIT JANET! often have harsh words for the religious right, or, to be more precise, the misogynist, homophobic, anti-sex, panty-sniffing, fundamentalist nutbars. (See DAMMIT JANET! passim.)

So, it was with some relief that I saw yesterday a story on the closing gap between the religious right and the religious left.
Yet as the numbers show, the religious right is increasingly being matched by a nascent "religious left." Some 24 percent of the adult population, about 45 million Americans, shares the "traditional" religious mindset of conservative religious activists, but 18 percent, about 38 million adults, shares the "modernist" mindset that is characteristic of progressive religious activists.

That's still a lot of fundy nutbars, but the good guys seems to be gaining.

The author goes on to discuss some of the fascinating details of a large survey of the religious in the USA.

Their so-called values couldn't be more different. The left is concerned with social justice: poverty, income inequality, hunger, human rights, universal health care, that kind of good stuff. The right, as we know all too well, focus on panty-sniffing alternating with panty-twisting 'personal morality'.

During the Morgentaler Order of Canada brouhaha, I ran across a story of a couple of good, religious people who whole-heartedly supported the honour so richly deserved by Dr Morgentaler. Here's a link to the letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen that caught my eye.

That report I read yesterday got me wondering how Fred and Bonnie Cappaccino were doing. So I googled them*. Here's a story from September 20 about their visit to the Unitarian Congregation in Mississauga. Photo swiped from that link.

Caption reads:
Selfless service. From L to R : Dr.Gagan Bhalla, Fred Cappaccino, wife Bonnie along with Uma Bhalla seen here at a function held this Saturday at Swagat Banquet Hall. The international charity helps women and children in four countries with food, education, shelter, health care and clothing. It was set up in Canada by the Cappaccinos and celebrates its 24th anniversary this year. Photo by Steven Der-Garabedian

Here's the website for their charity, Child Haven.

I don't use the word 'inspiring' lightly. Read about this truly inspiring couple and their work here.

It's happy-making to think that the number of such big-hearted, committed, and caring religious people may be on the rise. (And just as happy-making to think that those old dinosaurs on the medieval traditional side will be dying off.)

ADDED: I just saw this lovely example of the caring religious right. SUZY ALL-CAPS: If a woman gets falling down drunk, gets raped, it's her fault and she shouldn't have the 'Get of of Jail' card of abortion.

*Well, despite the lovely name -- Cappaccino -- I couldn't remember it. I had to appeal to my smarter co-blogger, deBeauxOs, for help. Smoochy thanks, dBO, for finding the bricklefritzing post at Birth Pangs.

Criminalizing Contraception

As 40 Days of Harassment kicks off, many bloggers and columnists are noting -- yet again -- the idiocy of the 'pro-life' position on contraception.

You'd think the people most dead-set against abortion would be the most avid cheerleaders for contraception.

You'd be dead wrong.

Antonia Zerbisias often reposts on her blog what she calls her treeware column with links added. Here's yesterday's, with a clarification added.
There are states – most recently Florida – where there are bills to ban contraception. Some pharmacists and doctors, both here and in the U.S., are refusing to provide the pill to patients, even married adult women.

We interrupt this column for a clarification:

The proposal in Florida is for a state constitutional amendment that critics assert would result in criminalization of the Pill. It wouldn't be the first time there have been legislative moves to ban some contraceptives, including the pill.

Then she links to my post about the celebrations the fetus fetishists are having over the success of their many incremental attacks in various US statehouses. Note that there were 300 initiatives against abortion and 60 against contraception.

At RH Reality Check, blogger Hunter Stewart ventures to Wisconsin to check out the 40 Days of Harassment campaign there.
There are two family planning clinics in central Wisconsin – one in Wausau, one in Stevens Point – that have been picketed by typical religious right-wing anti-choicers over the past two years. What’s not typical is that these clinics do not provide abortions. Nor do they provide referrals or even medical counseling for abortions, because their federal grant restrictions explicitly prohibit them from doing so. The people of Wisconsin know this. The protesters know this. So what’s the big deal?

The big deal is that this family planning clinic dispenses contraception – condoms, birth control pills, and emergency contraception. The protesters I spoke with in Wisconsin believe that “the morning-after pill” is the equivalent of murder. They even believe that the birth control pill is a form of murder. (Since in some cases it prevents the fertilized egg – which they would call “the embryonic person” – from implanting in the uterine wall.)

And condoms? One protester told me that condoms encourage men to use women “for sex without repercussions.” But isn’t it the woman who has to deal with the real “repercussions” of a pregnancy? You would think an anti-abortion activist, of all people, would see the use of condoms.

But no. “If you want to have sex,” he told me, waving his finger in the air, “make sure you can deal with the consequences. Which are children.”

Are we clear on this? Fetus fetishists are NOT about the baybeez. They are about control and punishment of mainly women, but men too, who have sex for reasons other then procreation.

The campaign is incremental. Throwing up niggling little laws here and there to restrict access to both abortion and contraception. Howling about pharmacists FORCED to dispense products a patient's doctor has ordered, but that the pill-counter finds morally objectionable. Launching idiotic bullshit campaigns like The Pill Kills. Lying about what emergency contraception or Plan B actually does. Lying about what ordinary hormonal contraception actually does. Shrieeeeking about the life-threatening dangers of the abortion pill.

Because, ultimately, what they want is CONTROL over everybody's reproductive systems. To that end, they want to criminalize abortion AND all forms of 'artificial' contraception.

Make no mistake about it. There is no common ground with these people.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

No Apologies Please, We're Catholic

One of my earliest blogposts at Birth Pangs was about a Polish woman named Alicja Tysiac. She was pregnant for the third time and severely myopic. She worried that continuing the pregnancy would deteriorate her vision further.
She consulted three ophthalmologists, who each concluded her eyesight would be further damaged if she carried the pregnancy to term. But they refused to issue a certificate for the pregnancy to be terminated on medical grounds, despite Tysiac’s requests. . . . After the delivery, her eyesight deteriorated considerably as a result of what was diagnosed as a retinal hemorrhage.

She took the state of Poland to the European Court of Human Rights and won. She has since become something of a heroine to reproductive rights activists there in their battle against Poland's draconian abortion law.

And for that, she's become a demon to Polish fetus fetishists. A vicious article in a catlick magazine characterized her as a murderer and abortion as Nazi crimes.

It seems that was a bit much, even in Poland. The magazine has been ordered by a court to pay her damages and apologize to her.
Judge Ewa Solecka ruled Wednesday that Catholics are free to express their moral disapproval of abortion — and even call it murder — but in a general way that stops short of vilifying an individual.

Solecka ordered the magazine, Gosc Niedzielny, which is published by the Katowice archdiocese, to pay Alicja Tysiac 30,000 zlotys (nearly $11,000) and issue her a written apology.

Solecka said the magazine's language was "particularly contemptuous" of Tysiac.

Natch, the magazine plans to appeal, because as we all know, if there's one thing catlicks hate even more than abortion, it's apologizing.

MORE: Go read Sabina at News of the Restless.


USian fetus fetishists are congratulating themselves on their efforts to impede, infantilize, patronize, and stigmatize women seeking legal abortions.
Americans United for Life (AUL) today released their 2009 State Legislative Session Report. This year's report confirms that the majority of states continue to successfully pursue and implement a life-affirming legislative agenda.
. . .
According to the report, several notable and promising developments and trends emerged in 2009:

* Approximately 60 life-affirming measures were enacted in 2009, a substantial increase from 2008 activity levels.

* The states considered approximately 300 abortion-related measures, the vast majority of them life-affirming, and virtually every state considered at least one pro-life measure.

* Several states introduced resolutions opposing the federal Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), radical legislation that would enshrine abortion-on-demand into American law and override all federal and state laws regulating or restricting abortion. Meanwhile, attempts in five states to enact a state version of FOCA were handily defeated.

* Further, states continued to seek to protect the unborn in contexts other than abortion by enacting protections for unborn victims of violence, encouraging substance abuse treatment for pregnant woman, and providing legal recourse for families whose unborn children are killed through the criminal acts or neglect of others.

* Measures to regulate biotechnologies and to prohibit or restrict technologies that destroy nascent life increased by nearly 20% -- the first increase in such legislation in three years.

* For the first time in three years, measures to protect conscience outpaced measures to violate or compel conscience by a margin of 2 to 1.

Full report here.

Among the 300 abortion-related meddlings were all the usual hoops and hurdles: 'personhood' (fertilized egg = person) legislation, bans on various types of abortion (because state legislators all have medical degrees and know more than any woman's doctor), parental notification/consent laws, rigorous reporting regulations for providers, mandatory ultrasounds, mandatory waiting periods, funding for Crisis Pregnancy Centres (a.k.a., lying, manipulative, guilt-trippers), and so on and so on and so on.

One of my fave manoeuvres is 'informed consent' legislation. The Guttmacher Institute says that 33 states have such laws, but only 10 of them incorporate correct medical information. The other 23 states use bullshit to attempt to guilt or scare women out of abortion.

('Information' is also the ruse invoked by sidewalk counsellors abortion clinic harassers.)

Thing is -- as Antonia Zerbisias reports in a blogpost titled Brute Force -- such measures don't work.

She quotes a policy review from the Guttmacher Institute (I'm bolding the same bit she did):
Providing women information specifically geared to dissuading them from having an abortion is a perversion of medical ethics in general and the informed consent process in particular. But no matter how well-worn the tactic, it does not appear to be effective in its purported goal of materially reducing the number of procedures performed. In fact, there is no persuasive evidence that state abortion policies aimed, in one way or another, at talking women out of an abortion stop large numbers of women from having them. At most, there is some indication from the data that erecting substantial, direct roadblocks in the path of women seeing an abortion -- such as denying Medicaid subsidies to poor women or requiring women to make two separate trips to a facility to receive in-person counseling, and then wait 24 hours before the abortion —- may have that result.

Wow. Imagine that. Women making up their own minds and sticking with their decisions.

And another wow. 'Direct roadblocks' on the other hand may work.

Something to think about as fetus fetishists across North America assemble outside women's clinics for their 40 Days of Harassment starting today: what those perverts are doing may be intimidating, but ultimately it is FUTILE.

Palin Wows the Crowd.

Funny thing about that word "Wow". It can cover a multitude of meanings. Palin spoke at the invitation of the brokerage and investment group CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets. If you recall, there were some questions raised about the purpose of that engagement.

Her performance, which was closed to the media, divided opinion. Some of those who attended praised her forthright views on government social and economic intervention and others walked out early in disgust.

"She was brilliant," said a European delegate, on condition of anonymity. "She said America was spending a lot of money and it was a temporary solution. Normal people are having to pay more and more but things don't get better. The rich will leave the country and the poor will get poorer."

Two US delegates left early, with one saying "it was awful, we couldn't stand it any longer". He declined to be identified. ...

One Asian delegate complained she devoted too much time to her home state of Alaska. "It was almost more of a speech promoting investment in Alaska," he said, declining to be named. "As fund managers we want to hear about the United States as a whole, not just about Alaska. And she criticised Obama a lot but offered no solutions." ...

There were no apparent gaffes though from Palin, who was mocked during last year's presidential campaign for her lack of experience in foreign affairs and for her verbal blunders. ... "It was fairly right-wing populist stuff,' one US delegate said. Palin blasted Obama's proposals on healthcare, reiterating a previous statement made to the press that the plan would include a bureaucratic "death panel" that would decide who gets assistance, he said.

Another from the United States said: "She frightens me because she strikes a chord with a certain segment of the population and I don't like it."

CLSA, an arm of French bank Credit Agricole, said it closed Palin's session to the media after she indicated that she would have to adjust her speech if reporters were present.

From here.

Wow indeed.

Update: More about Palin's speech here.

Fred Malek, a friend and Palin adviser, told Associated Press: "You can read a lot of things into [her speech] – 'Is she trying to burnish her foreign policy credentials?' and the like. But really, it's a trip that will be beneficial to her knowledge base and will defray some legal and other bills that she has."

Earlier this month, Karl Rove told Fox News that Palin would require extensive preparation ... "She's not going to be able to just get on a plane and take out a pad, [as] she wings her way to Hong Kong and scribbles out a few notes."

What an interesting observation. Is that Palin's habitual, or standard operating procedure in how she approaches speaking engagements?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

He Likes Us. No, Really.

This requires its own post.

Credit. Via Antonia, of course, done by Dwayne Radke. Great job.

Background and details here.

Sports and Alcohol - when does it stop being fun?

It's all fun and games until someone is taken to emergency, apparently suffering from alcohol poisoning.

Carleton University suspended its women’s soccer team on Friday after a rookie initiation party ended with a player being taken to the hospital by ambulance following excessive drinking.

It is believed that a team party last Sunday saw one player so incoherent from alcohol that an ambulance took her to the hospital.

These incidents do not occur in a vacuum. Particularly revealing are athletes' parents response to the University sanctions and media coverage.
One father of a rookie player suggested yesterday that the situation was being "really overblown." And a mother, who didn't want her name used out of respect for her daughter, a return player who went through a similar rookie party, suggested this was a case of someone drinking too much - not a hazing. "I know most of the girls on the team. I am just disappointed that their best intentions for team bonding have been misconstrued."
D-E-N-I-A-L, anyone?

Athletes are particularly vulnerable to peer pressure since the acceptance and admiration of team members is a powerful motivator for team success. As well, individuals who are blessed with such talents and skills tend to push the boundaries of their bodies' physical strength and abilities.

Patrick Swayze, who died two weeks ago and who had waged a life-long battle against substance abuse, observed: "My big regret is the physical damage I've done to my body. I can do almost anything physically and I used to believe I was invincible, breaking bones over and over, playing football, doing gymnastics, diving, ballet, doing my own stunts, kick boxing, staging fights ... It all seems a little stupid to me now."

Make a Political Fashion Statement!

DJ has gone all grrrly lately, with blogposts about fashion.

It's my turn.

The t-shirts are ready!

Make a fashionable political statement.

Or a political fashion statement.

Order them at LEAF's store here.

There are two sorts -- regular and fitted -- for actual members of the left-wing fringe group. And regular t's for our supporters.

It's a fundraiser for LEAF, an organization just about gutted by the Harpocons, so if you've got the dough, buy a few to give to friends and family. And/or encourage others to buy.

All hail to Antonia Zerbisias, whose fiendishly clever idea this was.

And to the plotters and planners at this Facebook page.

From idea to on-line ordering in something like a week and a half! I tell you -- we are pretty awesome for a left-wing fringe group.

Zaftig or Skeletal?

The Regina Mom sent me a link to an article that features the photographs seen at the top of this post.

London Fashion Week starts today, a seven-day parade of the Emperor's Designer Clothes, made of tinfoil or feathers or rubber. A few years ago, I was sent backstage to cover this event ...

At the end of the cat-walk, there stood a parade of young women who looked like they were about to collapse. On camera, fashion models look worryingly thin. In the (non-)flesh, they look so emaciated that the only other place I have ever seen people like them is reporting on African famines. Their eyes are glazed, shut-down because they have no fuel to run on. These coked-out jangles of gristle and bone were smeared with cosmetics, squeezed into a dress design that appeared to be made of rubbish bags, and pushed out to shimmy down the cat-walk ... When they stumbled back, they appeared faint and listless, and leaned against a wall, looking like they needed an IV drip.

The fashion world claims two sets of victims. The first are the women who it uses as models, for a brief window, before discarding them. They are on average 25 percent below a normal, healthy woman's weight. We know how they achieve this, because many former models say so: they starve themselves. They live on water and lettuce for weeks. When they fall below a Body Mass Index of twelve, they start to consume their own muscles and tissues. Several models have dropped dead from starvation after success at fashion shows in the past few years.

But there is a broader circle of victims, far beyond the cat-walk's cat-calls. They are ordinary women who are bombarded with these highly manufactured images of "beauty" every day, and react either by feeling repulsive or trying out semi-starvation for themselves. A Harvard University study found that 80 percent of women are unhappy with their bodies, and only 1 percent are "completely happy."

The other photograph accompanied an article in the Daily Mail online, again about London Fashion Week.
... take London Fashion Week's current stand on what constitutes beauty. There have been lots of initiatives to inject a few curves and laughter lines into the event, most notably from knitwear designer Mark Fast, who sent plus-size models down the runway, a brave statement that meant his stylist walked out, furious.
Was the stylist angry that the clothing clung to the models' curves, instead of hanging off the skeletal frames of clothes-hanger-thin, barely alive mannequins? How gauche.

In August Antonia Z wrote about the resistance to female flesh, sometimes expressed as hatred towards women who don't and won't conform to the current fashion demand for taut, tight or gaunt. The photograph of Lizzi Miller who brazenly shows off her voluptuous body, including her little belly created quite the uproar.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Putrid People

JJ has a vid of Olbermann on the latest idiocy from the Tea-Baggers and the Values Voters.

At that Values Voters (ptui) summit, Billo, aka George-Tiller-Assassination-Enabler, was given what JJ calls 'some bullshit "Media Courage" award'. For the first time evah, apparently. Way to en'courage' future assassination-enablers, VV.

But in his acceptance speech, Billo wasn't done villifying the successfully assassinated Dr Tiller. Have a look.

So, what was the heckler saying? Have another look.

These people are simply putrid.

Jill Stank: Now Without the Shrieeek?

At first I was puzzled. The byline attribution was hers, but where was the screeching, the fabrications, the hyperbole, the vile and odious propaganda? It seemed deceptively mild, for the operator of a blogsite that JJ at unrepentant old hippie has dubbed "Nurse Stanek’s Psych Ward" and other appropriate epithets.

Ah-ha. It appears she craves credibility. So she cranked down the religious rightwingnutter zealotry in order to pass herself off as a sane opinionator for Opposing Views.

But try as she might, she still couldn't resist a number of jabs and thrusts at pro-choicers. The mask slipped, and the habitual hostilities were expressed.

If you'd prefer to read a more balanced review of Irene Vilar's memoirs 'Impossible Motherhood', one can be found here.

As press on the book has begun to leak out, Vilar - a literary agent and editor - says she has already sensed "an inkling of hatred."

Vilar has scheduled only closed-door interviews and will not do a book tour. At the urging of her husband, they have made sure all public property records do not reflect her name, so she cannot be targeted at their home. "I am worried about my safety and the hate mail," she told in a telephone interview as her home-schooled children were at work on a painting project.

Vilar's book sounds excruciatingly painful. Not every woman who has endured a love-hate relationship with her body is capable of rising above the forces that have tormented her and in addition, write about these life experiences with the lucidity and compassion that others may find comforting and inspiring.

Oh! Looky here, Nurse Stanek. I blogged about Vilar's forthcoming book. Cue the shrieeeking!

ADDED: LifeShite adds its SHRIEEKINESS.

But dig the title: 'Hispanic Author's New Book Reveals Terrible Addiction, She's Had 16 Abortions'. WTF does her ethnicity have to do with it? Hispanic = catlick = even WORSSSSSE!

I sense a new totally made-up syndrome is in the works: Abortion Addiction!!11!!!!!11!!

Calling All Good Guys

I very much admire the Star columns and blog by Antonia Zerbisias. She's smart, funny, and fearless. She researches and thinks and gets things right. How many journalists can you say that about?

But the quality that most impresses me is her willingness to take on that sad and whiney bunch known as 'men's rights activists', or, The I-Blame-Feminism-for-My-Fucked-Up-Life Gang. (And no, I'm not linking to any of their sites. I do not want them tracking back here, because I am NOT willing to take them on. You can get a taste of their insanity in the comments to this recent AZ blogpost about violence against women.)

I am and have been lucky and/or wise in choosing the men I hang around with. They are Good Guys. Supporters of women and women's rights -- though some would probably cringe a bit if you called them feminists. Good and responsible fathers if they are fathers. Loving and supportive partners if they have partners -- and most do, because they are Good Guys.

So, an odd thing happened yesterday evening. A very old friend of my sweetie's came to visit. He has recently retired and moved to the country not very near by, but he lived here for most of his life and has a wide circle of friends. He doesn't get to town very often, so the jungle drums started beating and within about an hour of his arrival, there were five Good Guys sitting around drinking beer and catching up with each other.

And one woman -- me.

Very funny stories were being told in answer to questions like 'Have you seen So-and-So?' and 'Did you hear what happened to Somebody Else?'

Inevitably, they got into telling old stories about So-and-So and Somebody Else. (BTW, whoever said that men don't gossip had his/her head up ass.)

They got onto one guy whose life could be described as fraught, or maybe hapless is better. In addition to various other adventures, this guy is notorious for fathering children then refusing to support them. As is his brother. One of the guys said: 'Yeah, well, you can talk to Bro 2 about his failures as a father, but if you want to stay friends with Bro 1, you don't mention it.'

I hadn't been saying much, but I turned to the guy -- someone I've known a while and like a lot -- and said: 'Huh?'

He shrugged.

Moi: 'Jeebers, Jack, you've known this guy for decades, helped him through all kinds of shit, and you won't call him out on this inexcusable behaviour? You're a Good Guy. If you won't call him out, who will?'

Squirming ensued. Other Good Guys developed an avid interest in the ceiling.

Jack squirmed a bit more then said: 'You're right. If he won't do the right thing, he should get himself fixed so he can't father any more children. Next time I see him, I'm telling him that.'

Heads nodded in agreement and we returned to our regular programming.

So, will he? Dunno. Will it do any good? Unlikely.

But here's the thing: If the Good Guys won't brace their Not-So-Good brothers and pals on their bad behaviour, who will?

Us feminazis, I guess.

And take the blame for that too.

The other side of the Olympic coin.

The BBC News site has an excellent, balanced and honest article about Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. It even includes a pithy explanation on how that area historically developed as a catchment neighbourhood for transient workers and now, homeless citizens.

Yes, citizens. It is often assumed that itinerant individuals have abandoned their rights, along with the roof over their heads somewhere along the series of 'hard knocks' that befell them. That gentle euphemism barely covers some of the life traumas many Downtown Eastside residents have experienced.

Jenny Kwan has represented the neighbourhood in British Columbia's provincial parliament since 1996. "We have a homelessness crisis in this community...people with mental health issues, people who are very, very poor. Some suffered tremendous childhood traumas," she says.

Many of the residents struggle with several of these problems all at once. The DTES is said to have the highest rate of HIV infection in North America (about 30%). Statistics show that the DTES has a disproportionately high number of homeless people, of drug addicts, people with mental health problems and the unemployed.

It is thought that about 2000 locals may not have a fixed address, out of an estimated population of about 18,000. The Downtown Eastside has historically been a place of cheap accommodation that suited transient seasonal workers, such as loggers or miners, in between stints in the woods or mines of British Columbia.

These loggers and miners returned to live in the DTES when they could no longer work, and were joined by permanent, low-income residents from elsewhere, who could not afford the more expensive rents of other areas. A pattern was set.

More recent trends also contributed, such as the closing of institutions for mentally ill people in the 1980s, the increase in illegal drugs and the loss of inexpensive housing in other neighbourhoods.

Professor Aprodicio Laquian from the University of British Columbia says the concentration of services in the DTES acts as a magnet to people faced with mental health and addiction problems. "It also conveniently 'saves' other sections of the metropolitan area from dealing with the problems," he says.

Residents of other neighbourhoods fight off proposals for projects for the homeless, addicts or mentally ill people in their areas, as they fear for the values of their properties.

Vancouver is a Canadian city where I have stayed for long periods of time with friends and family members. It feels like home whenever I am there, but I am very aware of the contradictions between its great wealth and its immense deprivations.

Shortly after the publication of In the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts, I heard Dr Gabor Maté speak in a Vancouver church. His vision of what we may learn about ourselves by helping the most vulnerable among us and connecting with their humanity was inspiring and a reality check.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

What to Wear ...

on the Red Carpet, when you've finally decided that you're fed up with the whole vanity and vapidity thing, the inane worship of celebrity? Stylists be damned - didn't Meryl Streep claim she purchased the little black dress she wore to the Oscars on one occasion, back in the 1980s, right off a sales rack in a department store?

So, what to wear? This:
Doesn't Cate Blanchett's get-up look as though it has been crafted from a re-purposed, vintage afghan? How totally environmentally AND politically relevant. How cheerfully irreverent! Look at the smile on her face - she is having a good time with this fashion "faut-pas". As in: Il ne faut pas ...

By the way, we have written about fashion before. Here.

Republican family values.

LuLu at Canadian Cynic: Republican family values. brings this gem to our attention.

What I find perplexing is not the tactic that the fundamentalist religious right might champion as a double whammy - a strike against homosexuality and safe, responsibility-based sex education - but the reasons that the Republican leadership claim as the source of the problem.

the following. DAMMIT JANET! comments the sub-text (our annotations are italicized).

A few minutes into his speech, Schwartz moved to the topic of pornography, calling it a “blight” and a “disease” that parents’ “sons” would encounter. (But not their daughters who might be coerced, likely by older men, to re-enact the brutalizing scenarios?) Noting that he was about to get “politically incorrect,” Schwartz said that it is his “observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people”:

SCHWARTZ: But it is my observation that boys at that age have less tolerance for homosexuality than just about any other class of people. (If you exclude Pat Robertson and his thousands of acolytes.) They speak badly about homosexuality. (Peer pressure and bullying?) And that’s because they don’t want to be that way. (Given the choice between being beaten or killed by their peers and likely rejected by their family, the boys who feel the stirrings of their homosexuality will bury those feelings and over-compensate with violence against class-mates who are 'sissies'.) They don’t want to fall into it. (But they just might commit suicide.) And that’s a good instinct. (Survival? Yes that is a good instinct.) After all, homosexuality, we know, studies have been done by the National Institute of Health to try to prove that it's genetic and all those studies have proved it's not genetic. (Scientific studies are bogus if they don't support his beliefs.) Homosexuality is inflicted on people. (No. It is a scientifically documented sexual orientation. The bigotry of fundamentalist religious conservatives is inflicted on people.)

Schwartz then recalled “a very good friend” of his “who was in the homosexual lifestyle for a long time,” saying that he “had good conversations about, about the malady that he suffered.” (Your words? - likely not his, but then again if your gay male friend is a Republican he has learned to use the words of his persecutors judiciously to placate them.) He then relayed “an astonishingly insightful remark” his friend had made about the relationship between pornography and being gay:

SCHWARTZ: And one of the things that he said to me, that I think is an astonishingly insightful remark. He said, “all pornography is homosexual pornography because all pornography turns your sexual drive inwards. (Schwartz, you are really clueless. Your astute "very good friend" is telling you that most porn is androcentric and gynophobic.) Now think about that. And if you, if you tell an 11-year-old boy about that, do you think he’s going to want to go out and get a copy of Playboy? I’m pretty sure he’ll lose interest. That’s the last thing he wants.” (And your "very good friend" just told what he knew you wanted to hear.) You know, that’s a, that’s a good comment. (And it's all part and parcel of your "very good friend's" lifelong strategy of how to escape from the murderous hatred of schoolyard and religious rightwing bullies.) It’s a good point and it’s a good thing to teach young people. (Your sons, you mean. The girls get to attend Purity Balls with their daddies.)

Schwartz then added a slight caveat, saying, “if it doesn’t turn you homosexual, it at least renders you less capable of loving your wife.”

Or more likely to grow up to become a Republican politician who gets caught with his pants down.