Monday, 24 December 2012

Yo! Kainai Nation!

Beijing York has an excellent suggestion.
The Kainai Nation of Alberta should demand that Harper relinquish his eagle feather. He's made it abundantly clear that he has no respect for indigenous people here or elsewhere, and his residential school apology was just political theatre for him.

Remember in July 2011 when the Kainai Nation, aka Blood Tribe, gave the world the occasion for another glorious photo op?

Let's hope the Kainai people are rethinking that about now.

ADDED: From Kev, it seems the people may be doing exactly that.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Of hunger strikes, CON pigs tweeting about bacon, and #IdleNoMore

As I stood on Parliament Hill in solidarity with #IdleNoMore activists and protesters I was reminded that the ancestors of those whose revendications I supported, taught my ancestors how to survive the harsh winters of Turtle Island.

Were it not for the extraordinary generosity that the Anishinabek, Cree, Abenaki and perhaps even Iroquois peoples extended to Europeans, settlement after settlement would have succumbed to the challenges and dangers the natural environment posed.  Famine, and diseases attributed to malnutrition, killed many colonists.

This is particularly ironic since Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence has chosen starvation as the means to express the urgency of a meeting between Harper, the Governor General and First Nations leaders (including Spence). She is putting her very life on the line.

Using self-starvation is one form of immolation that has been tactically deployed throughout history.  This strategy, the very embodiment of explicit resistance and defiance expressed through systematic physical, emotional and intellectual commitment to die, in the hope of reaching a collective goal, was particularly well exploited by Bobby Sands and other Irish republican prisoners - convicted paramilitary members of the Army - during the 1981 Irish hunger strike

Sands started refusing food on 1 March 1981; he died 66 days later. Other prisoners agreed to join the strike at intervals, which helped create publicity as increasing numbers steadily deteriorated over several months.  The prisoners' aim was to achieve recognition as prisoners of war as opposed to being treated as criminals, though the Washington Post reported the reason for the strike was to provoke international publicity.

The strategic use of self-imposed starvation as a political strategy is not unanimously acclaimed. While self-immolation by fire (Afghanistan, Tibet, Maghreb) is certainly more spectacular and *newsworthy* to the corporate media as they can report the event and not dwell on the motives behind such action, a hunger strike offers a longer process that allows the individual to reflect upon the gravity of the choice, and to enlist supporters for the goals envisioned. It is nonetheless just as deadly.

Predictably, members of the CONtempt party have reacted with derision to Chief Spence's decision.  Though infested with porcine individuals who can barely fit 4 to an elevator, the cpc *base* opinionates that most Indigenous people are "well-fed".  And yet, only a few members of First Nations communities are prosperous in that gross "well-fed Con pigs at the trough" way.

Even the flak who cranks out tweets for PMSHithead got into the spirit of Xmas the CPC as it acts in the House of Commons during Question Period.

Harper's ancestry (and the familial karma it suggests) does not leave me hopeful that his 99 sizes-too-small Grinch heart will respond to Chief Spence's ultimatum.

 Stephen Harper Jet

Photograph of Dzawada'enuxw First Nations supporting #IdleNoMore, via @godammitkitty and @SherryBGood.

A wealth of documentation is found at the FB page (no registration required) for Indigenous Peoples Issues and Resources - the leading source for news, information, articles, videos, and more on indigenous peoples from around the world. Lincoln (whose Spielbergian biopic Harper and his entourage raved about) story about the hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux on December 26 1862, details here.)

Photo of Harper, from here.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Arm and Train Teachers to Kill: Gun Idiots

Some US folks who have had it with the pro-gun lobby intimidating, coercing and threatening its way into an exalted, near religious franchise in their country have responded strongly.

With words of course, because this would be the moment to demonstrate how the pen is mightier than the sword, rational discourse trumps irrational shrieeeking and internet activism might triumph over guns.

There have been many, many admirable and gut-wrenching pieces written in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook School massacre. Blithering glurge has also been produced, typically by those taken with a well-calculated Munchausen by proxy-like blog post.

This one may be my favourite, as it encapsulates the forces at play in the US.
The gun is our Moloch. We sacrifice children to him daily—sometimes, as at Sandy Hook, by directly throwing them into the fire-hose of bullets from our protected private killing machines, sometimes by blighting our children’s lives by the death of a parent, a schoolmate, a teacher, a protector. Sometimes this is done by mass killings (eight this year), sometimes by private offerings to the god (thousands this year).

The gun is not a mere tool, a bit of technology, a political issue, a point of debate. It is an object of reverence. Devotion to it precludes interruption with the sacrifices it entails. Like most gods, it does what it will, and cannot be questioned. Its acolytes think it is capable only of good things. It guarantees life and safety and freedom. It even guarantees law. Law grows from it. Then how can law question it?

Its power to do good is matched by its incapacity to do anything wrong. It cannot kill. Thwarting the god is what kills. If it seems to kill, that is only because the god’s bottomless appetite for death has not been adequately fed. The answer to problems caused by guns is more guns, millions of guns, guns everywhere, carried openly, carried secretly, in bars, in churches, in offices, in government buildings. Only the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence.

Adoration of Moloch permeates the country, imposing a hushed silence as he works his will. One cannot question his rites, even as the blood is gushing through the idol’s teeth. The White House spokesman invokes the silence of traditional in religious ceremony. “It is not the time” to question Moloch. No time is right for showing disrespect for Moloch.
Armed with words, compassionate and strong words.

There are sadly though, gun-fetishizing idiots in the US who demand that teachers be armed with weapons, to stop any potential attacks, oh no, wait - to *defend*. That's their buzz-word, their holy mantra. 

This kind of exchange is unfortunately quite typical of that mentality.

The assumption that any armed person can stop someone equipped bent upon carnage with assault weapons is mind-boggling.  Military and police teams train daily, for months and years, in order to develop the finely calibrated responses required to deal with this type of volatile - and deadly - situation.  

Aaron is so convinced that "the lack of guns can be a curse, not their beneficent omnipresence" that he can't see the training and the mindset required for this role is antithetical to what teachers do.  He would prefer that teachers devote their extra time to developing those specific skills deployed by SWAT personnel, instead of coaching, mentoring, nurturing, guiding children?

And then Wayne provides a link to this.  Oh glorious USA, land of opportunities, profits and ever-increasing deaths by gunfire.

Reading the comments that follow Garry Wills' piece is educational - and disheartening.  Yes, there are idiots but some people do still cherish the hope that their murderous US gun culture can - and will - shift gears.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Another Vatican Taliban FAIL

Finally. After more than fourteen fucking years, the Philippines is on the road to the 20th century in reproductive health care.

Birth control is legal and widely available in the Philippines for people who can afford it, particularly those living in cities. But condoms, birth control pills and other methods can be difficult to find in rural areas, and their cost puts them out of reach for the very poor.
. . .
The measure passed on Monday would stock government health centers, including those in remote rural areas, with free or subsidized birth control options for the poor. It would require sex education in public schools and family-planning training for community health officers. The Philippines has one of the highest birthrates in Asia, but backers of the legislation, including the Aquino administration, have said repeatedly that its purpose is not to limit to population growth. Rather, they say, the bill is meant to offer poor families the same reproductive health options that wealthier people in the country enjoy.

But the Catlick church is still lying about the bill and vowing to fight on.
In the name of economic development and safe sex, the new law would require couples to have no more than two children. It would also commit the state to promoting contraceptives, abortion pills and voluntary sterilisation. In his message to Filipino Catholics, Card Tagle described as 'tragic' this morning's vote. Still, calling for unity, he said the Church would not concede defeat in its fight against the bill.

Previous DJ! blogposts about the struggle for sanity in the Philippines here and here.

With recent events in Uruguay, Northern Ireland, and Ireland, the Vatican Taliban is getting its ass kicked all over the world.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

More on Coercive Contraception

More details on genocide by coercive contraception.

The documentary on the situation of Ethiopian women in Israel aired last week and is causing a bit of a stir.
Israeli and Jewish aid officials are denying an Israeli TV report alleging that Ethiopian immigrant women have been coerced into taking contraceptive shots.

The aid group is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).
In the report, a woman identified as S. said she was told at the Jewish aid compound in Gondar, Ethiopia, “If you don’t get the shot, we won’t give you a ticket.”

She recalled, “I didn’t want to take it. They wanted me to take it. But I didn’t know it was a contraceptive,” she said. “I thought it was an immunization.”
. . .
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which runs the health clinics in Ethiopia for prospective immigrants to Israel, says it offers contraception among its array of services but that it is purely voluntary.
It seems that JDC also offers medical care once immigrants arrive in Israel, providing another er, avenue of persuasion.
Several women interviewed by [documentary maker Gal] Gabbai said that they were told at the transit camps in Ethiopia that they had to receive the shots if they wanted to immigrate to Israel and continue receiving medical treatment from the JDC.
But lest Israeli officials try to lay all blame on the aid group, there's this.
Israeli authorities denied all of the allegations. However, Gabbai revealed an official letter that she uncovered from the Health Ministry to Dr. Rick Hodes, the director of the JDC Medical Programs in Ethiopia. The letter praised the doctor’s work, noting that whereas fewer than 5% of Ethiopians use any form of birth control, Hodes achieved a rate of 30% among the patients he treated.
I'll just let that lie there.

I wonder where the fetus fetishists are on this. Or the Israel-can-do-no-wrong gang. Or both, rolled into one. Co-blogger deBeauxOs had a suggestion.

Come on down, Babs! The logical gymnastics required to defend both Israel and the reproductive rights of all Israelis would be breathtaking, yes?

Friday, 14 December 2012

In Israel: Stringent Contraception for *Some*

A story that broke nearly three years ago is back in the news in Israel.
The birthrate among Ethiopians in Israel decreased by a dramatic 50% in the last decade, and Israeli journalist Gal Gabai wanted to know why. She investigated the issue for “Vacuum,” her documentary series on Israeli Educational Television, and she discovered some things that left her very uncomfortable — and will surely leave others equally so.
Let's go back to January 2010.
Health officials in Israel are subjecting many female Ethiopian immigrants to a controversial long-term birth control drug in what Israeli women's groups allege is a racist policy to reduce the number of black babies. The contraceptive, known as Depo Provera, which is given by injection every three months, is considered by many doctors as a birth control method of last resort because of problems treating its side effects.
Look how it came to light.
Women's groups were alerted to the widespread use of Depo Provera in the Ethiopian community in 2008 when Rachel Mangoli, who runs a day care centre for 120 Ethiopian children in Bnei Braq, a suburb of Tel Aviv, observed that she had received only one new child in the previous three years. "I started to think about how strange the situation was after I had to send back donated baby clothes because there was no one in the community to give them to," she said.

She approached a local health clinic serving the 55 Ethiopian families in Bnei Braq and was told by the clinic manager that they had been instructed to administer Depo Provera injections to the women of child-bearing age, though he refused to say who had issued the order. Ms Mangoli, who interviewed the women, said: "They had not been told about alternative forms of contraception or about the side effects or given medical follow-ups." The women complained of a wide range of side effects associated with the drug, including headaches, abdominal pain, fatigue, nausea, loss of libido and general burning sensations.
Depo Provera is controversial? Boy howdy. It causes, among other nastinesses, osteoporosis.

On the plus side, one doesn't need to remember to take it.

Back to the new documentary:
Some of the women interviewed said they were told that birth control pills were not suitable for them because they were not capable of remembering to take them daily. Video shot with a hidden camera during an Israeli health clinic visit by an Ethiopian immigrant, during which she gets a Depo-Provera shot, indeed documents healthcare providers expressing this exact opinion of Ethiopian women.
From the 2010 story:
Figures show that 57 per cent of Depo Provera users in Israel are Ethiopian, even though the community accounts for less than two per cent of the total population. About 90,000 Ethiopians have been brought to Israel under the Law of Return since the 1980s, but their Jewishness has subsequently been questioned by some rabbis and is doubted by many ordinary Israelis.
That percentage is kind of amazing, isn't it?

Health care providers were told that injectable b.c. was preferred by Ethiopian women, but a survey in Ethiopia reported that of women using b.c. there, 75% of them used oral contraception. The Pill.

Moreover, isn't Israel worried about population decline? Yes, it is.
This policy appears to conflict with the stated goals of the country's Demography Council, a group of experts charged with devising ways to persuade Jewish women to have more babies. The council was established in response to what is widely seen in Israel as a "demographic war" with Palestinians, or the need to maintain a Jewish majority in the region despite high Palestinian birth rates. In a speech marking the council's reconvening in 2002, the then social welfare minister, Shlomo Benizri, referred to "the beauty of the Jewish family that is blessed with many children".

We've blogged about Israeli pro-natalism and its desire to encourage some marriages over others.

And, it seems, there is some history to this sort of thing. From the 2010 article again:
Yali Hashash, a researcher at Haifa University, said attempts to restrict Ethiopian women's fertility echoed practices used against Jewish women who immigrated to Israel from such Arab countries as Iraq, Yemen and Morocco in the state's early years, in the 1950s and 1960s. Many, she said, had been encouraged to fit IUDs when the device was still experimental because Israel's leading gynecologists regarded Arab Jews as "primitive" and incapable of acting "responsibly".

What an ugly stew. Vulnerable women, not particularly welcomed, pressured into a dangerous regime of stringent birth control that contradicts stated population policy.

One's gotta ask: why?

Not very many credible answers, are there?

And this is Canada's great friend. You know, the one we'd apparently go to war over.
“Canada and Israel share a bond of friendship and are allies in the democratic family of countries,” International Development Minister Julian Fantino said in a statement released by Israel’s embassy in Ottawa.
Wonder if Canada also supports coerced contraception for *some* Israelis?

h/t myaguarnieri

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Procrastination, or Screwing Around with the Blogroll

I just added two blogs to our Blogs We Read list over there on the right.

Quill to the Anvil/Friendly Satirist who today responded to the Toronto Police's advice to pedestrians who don't want to become traffic statistics with 'dress brightly'. The Toronto Police Safety Guide/Dress Code.

The next addition is to correct an unconscionable oversight. Our Twitter pal Stephen Lautens hath a blog called Stephen Lautens' Parking Space. There he publishes his wonderful De-Motivational posters like this most recent one.

In other good news, we are delighted to report that Alison at Creekside has overcome her bout of ennui/disgust/fed-uppedness to resume blogging on Canadian politics. Creekside, of course, has been on our blogroll from the beginning.

One more bit of PSA: There's a blog aggregator just for real progressives (which includes feminists) called Canadian Progressive Voices. Have a look and if you're a blogger consider the good company *ahem* you'd be keeping.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Stuck with these clowns

Today on Twitter, Comets Mum was appalling amusing her followers by tweeting information on the educational attainments of the CONtempt Party's cabinet ministers, taken from the official source.

There are 38 cabinet ministers, including the Trained Economist PM.

There are 12 lawyers: Nicholson, MacKay, Toews, Clement, Fast, Oliver, Valcourt, Bernier, Flaherty, Van Loan, Raitt, and Paradis. Of that gang, Van Loan and Raitt seem to have gone a bit beyond the LLB.
Mr. Van Loan obtained a master of science degree in planning and a master of arts in international relations from the University of Toronto and a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School.
[Raitt] is a graduate of St. Francis Xavier University and holds a master of science degree from the University of Guelph. She earned her law degree from Osgoode Hall at York University.
Master of SCIENCE!!

There are degrees in subjects other than law.

• Ambrose, Minister of Public Works and Government Services and Minister for Status of Women, has a BA and MA in political science.
• Finley, Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development, has a BA in administrative studies and MA in business administration.
• Baird, Minister of Foreign Affairs, has a BA in 'political studies'. Not quite political science?
• Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, 'is a graduate of the University of Northern British Columbia.' No discipline? OK, then.
• Blaney, Minister of Veterans Affairs, has a BA and MBA and he's an engineer.
• Ashfield, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans, 'studied business administration at the University of New Brunswick.' Didn't graduate?
• Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, has a BSc in forestry. More SCIENCE!
• O'Connor, Minister of State and Chief Government Whip, 'has received degrees from Concordia and York universities.' Real degrees or honorary?
• Ablonczy, Minister of State of Foreign Affairs, 'has degrees in education and law.' Not quite a lawyer, then?
• Fletcher, Minister of State (Transport), has a MBA and BSc in engineering. More SCIENCE!
• Wong, Minister of State (Seniors), has a PhD in 'curriculum and instruction.' Oo, sounds like something one could earn at OISE.

Mostly lawyers, political scientists (sic), and business administrators.

These are short bios and natch, they would be as positive as possible. So let's look at the 11 for whom there is no mention of education at all.

• Aglukkaq, Minister of Health
• Kent, Minister of the Environment
• Ritz, Minister of Agriculture (Bio mentions coaching.)
• Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities
• Shea, Minister of National Revenue
• Fantino, Minister of International Cooperation

Six pretty damn big important (?) ministries there. The people in charge of Health, Environment, Transport/Infrastructure, National Revenue and International Cooperation seem to have no higher education worth mentioning.

There are also five more minor players without educational brags: Yelich, Minister of State (Western Economic Diversification) (Farming is mentioned); Menzies, Minister of State (Finance) (Another farmer); Uppal, Minister of State (Democratic Reform) (Another coach); Gosal, Minister of State (Sport); and LeBreton, leader of the Senate. (Actually, if Marjory had any kind of post-secondary education, I'd wanna know which institution and work to get it discredited. Have you ever heard her speak?)

Now to some cases that get special treatment in the education department.

Look what they say about Goodyear, Minister of State (Science and Technology) and Evolution-Denying Creationism.
Dr. Goodyear attended the University of Waterloo specializing in kinesiology and psychology before graduating from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College.

Kinesiology is what star athletes 'study' at university usually without getting a degree either. The 'Dr.' is entirely bogus.

On to Penashue, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
He graduated from Brother Rice High School in St. John’s and pursued studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland.
And Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism.
Mr. Kenney is a graduate of Notre Dame College. He also studied at the St. Ignatius Institute of the University of San Francisco.

Notre Dame College is 'an international Catholic, co-educational, college preparatory boarding school for students in grades 9 to 12.' High school, not college.

I get a chance to post my fave vid again of how Jason distinguished himself at St. Ignatius.

Courtesy of Twitter pal Stephen Lautens, we can compare the people running the country to the overall educational attainment of Canadians.
In 2011, about 53% of Canadians aged 15 and over had trade certificates, college diplomas and university degrees. This was an increase of 20 percentage points since 1990.
That's pretty impressive, isn't it? In fact, Canada has the highest percentage of such graduates of any of the OECD countries.

The Cabinet -- with 25 out of 38 ministers holding degrees of some kind -- fares better than the national average with 65.7%. (That's generously counting Ashfield and O'Connor, not counting Kenney.)

But isn't that to be expected? That people with big jobs, big responsibilities, making the big bucks actually have some edumaction, some exposure to facts and learning and critical thinking and logic and asking questions and looking shit up.

That one-third of them DON'T is scary.

That those WITHOUT are running Health, Environment, Transport/Infrastructure, National Revenue, and International Cooperation is really really scary.

Of the ones who do hold degrees, only 5 of them have anything at all to do with science. And no, I'm not counting chiropractology.

Science is by no means the be-all and end-all of education. But it does require its students to recognize that YOU CAN'T JUST MAKE SHIT UP.

The people in charge of Health, Environment, Agriculture, and Fisheries wouldn't be able to distinguish a CO2 molecule from a petri dish of e.coli.

I am not an edumacational snob, but I find this shocking.

But it explains much doesn't it?

That PM Shithead likes to surround himself with low-information minions, for one thing.

And this observation from Lautens:

I'll leave you with this. (Dig the clothes.)

UPDATE: Thursday, December 13/12 in The Tyee, 'Can't Call Conservatives Overeducated'. Someone having a Wentegasm?

Spotted by our pal Kev.

Saturday, 8 December 2012


What does an info junkie do on a wet Saturday in December?

Get punked.

In my defense, so did the Ithaca Journal.

Here's the story I tweeted today, dated December 5, 2012, by Dave Henderson, Correspondent.
Vermont, which may be the most liberal state in the union, nevertheless is the only state that allows its residents to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.

Go figure.

I’m sure this logic wouldn’t fly in the Ithaca area, but Vermont State Rep. Fred Maslack is proposing that the state not only register non-gun owners but also charge them for not having a gun.

Yup, under Maslack’s proposal Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of traipsing about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun.

It seems that Maslack reads the “militia” phrase of the Second Amendment as not only the right of the individual citizen to bear arms, but as ‘a clear mandate to do so.’ He believes that universal gun ownership was advocated by the framers of the Constitution as an antidote to a “monopoly of force” by the government as well as criminals.

He contends that Vermont’s constitution states explicitly that “the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State” and those persons who are “conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms” shall be required to “pay such equivalent.”

Under the bill, adults who choose not to own a firearm would be required to register their name, address, Social Security number, and driver’s license number with the state.

“There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is not prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so,” Maslack told the Associated Press.

Vermont has one of the highest gun ownership rates per capita of any state in the country and its crime rate is third lowest in the nation.

Think about it. There is no reason why gun owners should have to pay taxes to support police protection for people who choose not to protect themselves. Why not let them contribute their fair share and pay their own way. Isn’t that reasonable? Non-gun owners require more police to protect them and this fee should go to paying for their defense.


No, I didn’t think so. Makes too much sense.
OK, so I'm Canadian and therefore able to believe just about anything about nutty Merkins. But Vermont? REGISTERING non—gun-owners? And I couldn't find any other legit source for the story.

I did find this blogpost dated yesterday by someone identified as Tony Oliva, Director of Media Relations for Gun Owners of America.

The facts are the same with an additional fact about a town in Georgia that does have a law on mandatory gun ownership, which seems to be true.

Much of the copy is the same too. (Tony going Wente? Or Tony and Dave going Jekyll and Jekyll?)

Tony adds a justification for the new law.

Of course. Obamacare.

Usually, I have been against the government ruling anything has to be mandatory.  But given the fact that Obamacare not only passed but was affirmed by the Supreme Court, I guess the new law of the land allows the government to force people to buy things.  While it may not be right, as of now it is legal, so why not force people (who are not otherwise barred from owning firearms) to exercise their rights and those persons
who are “conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms” shall be required to “pay such equivalent”?

I mean, there is no reason why gun owners should have to pay taxes to support police protection for people who choose not to protect themselves. Why not let them contribute their fair share and pay their own way. Isn’t that reasonable? Non-gun owners require more police to protect them and this fee should go to paying for their defense.

If, as a healthy person, I have to foot the bill for the chain smoking, burger inhaling, cardio hating, Fatty McFattensteins of America, why shouldn’t someone who wants to pass the responsibility of their own protection onto the cops pay for that privilege?

Do I expect this legislation in Vermont to go anywhere?  I’m not sure.  When similar bills have come up before in Vermont they haven’t gotten any traction but ever since the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Obamacare who knows.

If the long lasting effect of Obamacare (besides crippling the health industry) is that mandatory gun ownership legislation sweeps the nation then I will laugh long and hard. Gotta love karma.
Still looking for 'mandatory gun ownership', I found this about a similar proposal in South Dakota from February 2011.
While some Americans would think the law was a damn fine thing, it turns out [Sioux Fall representative Hal Wick] himself has only advanced the law to highlight what he sees as the injustice of the Obama Administration's healthcare bill.
Makes total sense, eh? Mandatory health care, mandatory gun ownership. (Although in saner societies, one would think the order of events might be reversed.)

I kept looking and found this. The title says it all. Stop with the Fred Maslack emails already.

Apparently Fred is no longer a member of the Vermont legislature and hasn't been for a while.

But a commenter solved the puzzle of where this silliness started.

In a true story in the Boston Globe in February, 2000.

The original proposal had no mention of registering non-owners but there was a $500 fine.

Is this recurrence gun-nut humour? Wishful thinking? Simple madness?

Anyway, it was fun.

Yes. I'm weird.

And no. Snopes doesn't know about it.

The clinic as court

Apropos of the current fashion in some quarters of letting people die in front of them in agony in order to prove particularly obscure points, I submit to your attention this 2008 missive from a US anti-abortion lobby group about the availability of OTC chemical abortifacients. The group is called the Population Research Institute, which is another of those "Holy Roman Empires"---neither about Population, nor doing Research, nor really an Institute (it operates out of what appears to be a country club in northern Virginia). The principal concern appears to be contained in these two points:
  • As a result of years of groundwork by the abortion movement, most ministries of health in Latin America have issued regulations affirming that “attending to an incomplete abortion is not an act punishable by law.” The treatment of an incomplete abortion, these regulations say, does not "constitute abortion in penal terms.” Such regulations are perceived as falling entirely within the medical domain, and do not require any modification of the existing criminal code. They are thus extremely difficult to successfully oppose.
  • Most doctors in Latin America object to performing abortions on conscience grounds, but these chemical abortions, as we call them, neutralize the conscience objection. Physicians are seen as having a duty to care for women suffering from miscarriages, or even from incomplete abortions, because the life of the mother is at risk. Were they to refuse to care for a woman hemorrhaging — even if they were certain that the woman had deliberately caused the hemorrhaging by taking Misoprostol — they could be sanctioned by the local medical board.
In other words, in this 2008 post, Stephen Mosher wants doctors to be able to know which bleeding women to turn away (to die in agony in the gutter?), and which not. Men may be tried in courts, women in clinics.

Friday, 7 December 2012

M408: Sheer Cynical Posturing

At Rabble today, Joyce Arthur has a terrific article on the newest fetus fetishist gambit, Motion 408, to condemn sex selective abortion.

She makes a bunch of excellent points, including this unintentional revelation of what they really think of those murderous sluts poor coerced women.
Warawa wants Parliament to "condemn this worst form of discrimination against females," which he calls "gender violence -- gendercide."

But women are the ones having sex-selection abortions, which means Warawa is accusing women of violence and gendercide -- and courtesy of MP Stella Ambler -- "atrocities." Ending discrimination against women does not start with making nasty accusations against them. Yes, sex selection can be a sexist act, but it's nonsensical to protect women from discrimination by restricting their rights. In India, laws against sex-selection abortion cause women to resort to unsafe and illegal abortion to avoid having a girl, and some may even face abuse and violence from their families if they bear a girl.
Arthur included this dandy link to facts on gender preference in the US.

• In adoption, parents request girls far more often than boys.

• There is no evidence that females are aborted at a higher rate. In fact, the birth ratio of girls has increased since the legalization of abortion.

• Parents using currently available sex selection techniques prefer girls by quite a margin.

I doubt Canadians and Americans are much different in this regard, but I went looking for Canadian studies or polls.

A study published in January this year asked a slightly different question in skewed way. Researchers wanted to find out if men preferred boys and women girls. The dodgy part is that answers had to be 'male' or 'female'. No option for 'doesn't matter' was offered.

Surprise! Men wanted boys, women wanted girls.
The question is why do men and women have these preferences? The researchers hypothesize that men favour boys for much the same reason that women favour girls—because human beings often project their own dreams on their children and those dreams often come with stereotypical ideas of what it means to be male or female.
The piece ends with:

Moreover, the study suggests that affluent democratic societies encourage women to favour daughters more than those societies where opportunities for women are circumscribed by discrimination and inequality.  Seen in that light, women preferring daughters over sons is a sign of progress.
Makes total sense, eh? When girls have the same opportunities as boys, there's little downside to letting nature take its course.

Another recent study on sex-selection in Canada in 'certain' communities indicates that *if* it is happening, it is on a very small scale.
The calculations show the total number of “missing” girls is 245, which equals about 35 births per year, or less than one per cent of the total births to Indian-born women.

Dr. [Prabhat Jha, chair in disease control at the University of Toronto and director of the Centre for Global Health Research at St. Michael’s Hospital] said in an e-mail if sex-selective abortion is at play, it is a very small problem and other “important but subtle biases,” such as migration of Indian women about to give birth to a son, could help explain the trend.
Note that the study was conducted with data only from Indian-born women living in Canada.

A reasonable conclusion would be that as newcomers to Canada come to believe that their daughters have (most of) the benefits that sons do, the preference will die out.

In the meantime, other Canadians' desire for girls will balance things out.

Sex selection is not a societal issue in Canada. It is a problem in 'certain' communities that are well aware of it and are working to eliminate it.

Kindly put, Warawa's motion is a solution in search of a problem. More realistically, it's another attack on women's rights masquerading cynically as a concern for gender discrimination.

BONUS: If you can tolerate nearly 8 minutes of StunNews, have a look at the spin we're up against.