Wednesday 25 December 2013

Merry Merry

DJ! has been kinda sleepy lately, for which we apologize.

But we'd like to wish all our readers a safe and serene holiday, if you get/celebrate one.

And to our Toronto friends and others hit by the ice storm and power outage, here's hoping you get through this crap as well as you can.


Thursday 19 December 2013

On how many houses must we figuratively wish a pox?

The uproar in the diplomatic world today is the arrest of the Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, a consular services official in the USA who was arrested in front of her children at school, taken to a police station, and apparently strip searched, leading to extreme annoyance from the Indian government and Indian media.

This is one of those situations in which literally everybody doth protest too much.

So, US law enforcement procedures, well, they are notoriously made of a combination of suck and human rights violation, and routine strip searches are one of the precipitates. Protesting them is certainly a mitzvah. Except, you know, I look on any Indian protests from people wearing saffron scarves with a very jaded eye. If you don't know India, saffron is the colour of pure racist nationalism and fascism. These people are angry at the insult to India in the body of Khobragade, not to the actual assault on her person. Not only that, they're undoubtedly butthurt at all the bad press India has been getting for its rape epidemic. They also probably think that because the DA is Indian-American, he's trying to suck up to white people and prove that he's not going to favour his own "kind". Which might actually be true: I wouldn't put it past him.

But of course the implication that his own "kind" includes "Indian diplomat" is one of those maddening forms of racism that I would consider a legitimate case of so-called "reverse racism". The saffron crowd is undoubtedly expecting that a fellow Indian would follow an Indian-class-based attitude and ought to actively seek to get his own "kind" off the hook. In which case, it's hard to hold a possible attempt to suck up to white people entirely against him.

But I wouldn't cry that many tears for Khobragade either. I mean, regardless of what she did, routine strip searches by law enforcement are reasons for human sympathy, I suppose. Except, what she was being arrested for was the maltreatment of a maid -- a servant she was underpaying according to American law, when she had signed a declaration that she would pay the maid in full. Reading between the lines, it is almost certainly the case that many Indian diplomats are routinely lying to the US authorities on this front and justifying it to themselves because their maids a paid somewhat more than they would in India proper. Khobragade is probably not paid enough to afford to pay in full and live a diplomat's lifestyle in the USA.

Naturally, being of the privileged classes, it would be unthinkable that she should clean up after herself. Except, in a society that totally assigns domestic tasks to women (still far more so than Western society) and designs its world of work around the unencumbered man, a career woman must have a maid. She would never have taken the job otherwise, I would assume.

Adding to the overall unsympatheticness, India is trying to force the maid not to complain to the US authorities, as part of what appears to be a campaign to ensure that it's own diplomats can safely lie to the US authorities.

You might think, then, that the US authorities are on the side of the angels. But the US uses underhanded tactics and military means to ensure that even worse behaviour of its diplomats in "friendly" countries goes unpunished. Khobragade underpaying a maid is indeed, in that sense, the petty shoplifting equivalent of a diplomatic offense.

Lost in this mire of privilege stacked on privilege, is the maid. Her name is Sangeeta Richard, and the Indian-American DA is at the very least absolutely right to insist that the focus be on her.

Thursday 12 December 2013

Mea Culpa

Yesterday on Twitter, I was having a cozy gloomy shared among several buds, when this reply popped up.

I was shamed.

It struck me that the total disdain and disregard with which the CONtempt Party of Canada treats all of us -- well, except their rich, oily pals -- is much like the disdain and disregard that First Nations people have endured for centuries, when they weren't actively being murdered, starved, driven away, or disease-ridden.

We don't like it, do we?

@IamRedBrown is right and a better person than I am.

I will not give up.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Vellacott's Last Gasp

In the other recent yawn story, Maurice Vellacott is taking his last kick at the abortion can.

He's moving two motions to 'study' the abortion issue. Full text of both here.
Both motions are almost certainly doomed to fail. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has been consistent on having no desire to reopen the abortion debates in Canada, and his party has shut down numerous efforts by pro-life caucus members to do so.

Vellacott expects the votes to take place within a couple of days of the House of Commons returning in January. This is the last chance Vellacott has to bring the matter forward. First elected in the riding of Saskatoon–Wanuskewin as a Reform MP in 1997, he announced in July he will not be seeking a seventh term in office.
We should make some noise at our MPs, of course, but I think this guy is hyperventalating on the effects of Michael Chong's equally doomed motion to reclaim some democracy for MPs.
Though Chong's clear intent with this bill is to give more power to the MPs and reduce the power of the Prime Minister and other other party leaders, I believe that possible consequences of this bill are that certain MPs may gain the power to reopen the abortion debate with a view of criminalizing abortion. This should be a wake-up call to the Liberals, NDP, Conservatives and all Canadians who support a women's right to choose.

Not. Gonna. Happen.

Good-bye, Maurice. Have a good time back in whatever century you emanated from.

No. This Isn't the Game Changer.


Babs Kay is on her ABC (abortion = breast cancer) bullshit soap box Again. (That's a Do Not Link link, which I am going to use for all sites I don't want to get hits.)

This time she's citing a meta-study out of China -- where, you know, the health care system, abortion regime, environment, etc. etc. is exactly like North America.

Problem with this study is, as usual, its methodology, not to mention the obvious flaws in trying to compare these societies.

Short version: same old crap dressed up yet again as The Game Changer !!!!!!!!

Um. No.

Let's hear from an epidemiologist with the American Cancer named Susan Gapstur.

"The findings of this meta-analysis should be viewed with caution," Dr. Susan Gapstur told The Wire in an email. Gapstur is the vice president of epidemiology at the American Cancer Society. She notes that almost all of the studies cited in Dr. Huang's analysis used something called the case-control method, which tends to produce misleading results. In the case of the abortion-breast cancer link, women with breast cancer who self-report their reproductive histories tend to do so more accurately than women who are cancer-free. And in countries like China, where abortion still carries a significant stigma, that "recall bias" can be reinforced. "This 'recall bias' can make it look like breast cancer is associated with abortion when it is not," Gapstur explains. Case-control methods, it should be noted, have produced links between breast cancer and induced abortion before.
Further, the most reliable studies in the mega-study do NOT find a link.
All but two of the studies included in Huang's analysis used the case-control method. The remaining two were prospective cohort studies, which track women over time, instead of relying on self-reported historical results. Those two studies, Gapstur notes, did not find a link between abortion and breast cancer. In fact, the eight studies that appear to be the most reliable of the group found no link between induced abortion and breast cancer risk. "The association only became apparent as the quality of the studies decreased," Gapstur told The Wire, noting that some of the included studies were not published in peer-reviewed publications. In other words, the work might not be vetted by independent professionals in the field.

Over at Lifeshite, Joel Brind, granddaddy of ABC himself, calls Dr Gapstur an 'epidemiologist'. Gee, I dunno, she looks pretty well qualified to me.

I'm sure you are as bored by this as I am, but I take it as a duty to call them out. Every. Single. Fucking. Time.

And, really, Babs should be ashamed of herself, peddling this fear and worry to women year after year, despite getting regularly smacked down for it.

ADDED: From Babs herself in the comments to her piece:
Barbara Kay
Barbara Kay is an opinion journalist and it is her job to present the side she finds more persuasive. Other opinion journalists are free to adduce evidence they feel is more persuasive. Let the debate go on.

Or, shorter: Babs Kay is free to make any shit up she wants without regard for normal journalistic standards of accuracy and truth.

ANOTHER ADDITION: A media release on the anti-choice book, Complications, that Babs touts in her column. And oh look who's giving it a rave review. Our old pal, serial research-fudger, and perfesser of home ec, Priscilla Coleman. Surprise, surprise.

Saturday 7 December 2013

CONtempt™: it's the Harper CONservative party brand.

Another day, another cpc Senator in the news.

This particularly repulsive Con — Jean-Guy Dagenais — has also been a useful idiot for the Harper regime. As a former cop and past president of the police officers' association of Québec, Dagenais was a keen supporter of the federal long-gun registry.  Once tactically appointed to the Senate by PMSHithead, he CONveniently started spewing the anti-registry propaganda and speaking points supplied by the PMO.

Il a changé son fusil d'épaule.  And now, this:

In a letter sent to all parliamentarians, Dagenais referred to Charmaine Borg’s flyer as “a rag” and suggested she’s a whiny, ignorant, powerless Quebec MP who was elected by fluke and stands little chance of being re-elected.

NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said sending such a “offensive” missive to a 23-year-old female rookie MP is “paternalistic, childish, condescending and frankly misogynistic.” He served notice that he will ask the Speaker of the House of Commons next week to condemn Dagenais.

“The letter in question attacks the very legitimacy of a sitting member of Parliament,” Cullen told the Commons.

Stephen Taylor, the weathervane director of some astroturf Reformatory organization, and a self-selected arbiter on misogyny, equivocated and perorated about Cullen's observations.

What's Dagenais' next volley against the NDP elected member of Parliament?  To demand that Borg's home address and phone number be publicized, the better to incite his fellow bullies who share his views to hunt her down and sexually assault her, and finish the job that his impotent, CONvoluted p0rn-infused fantasies would want to see executed?

The collective recoil expressed by the female MPs in the NDP caucus should be noted, and respected.  Each of them knows how violence against women manifests itself in numerous and insidious ways; it is present in the truculent bellowing and lip-smacking self-indulgence of reactionary old white men who suffer from delusional entitlement syndrome.

Jean-Guy Dagenais is a prime specimen of the Reformatory plutocrats who are degrading Parliament.

Afterword: A point I raised, with regard to Dagenais' accusation that riding residents allegedly complained to him that Borg could do nothing for them: how can an individual MP redress or fix all the services and programs destroyed by the Harper governement: Employment Insurance, Veterans Affairs, Health, Environment, etc. etc.?

Update: More media pundits, all male so far, pooh-pooh the characterization of Dagenais' attack upon Borg as misogynistic.  It means women-hating, not the same as sexist.  I wonder who will be the first to label the reaction of female MPs as "hysterical".  Might be one of the anti-feminists: Wente, Lakritz or Kay-mère, perhaps Blatchford?

More update: I went looking for a useful and helpful perspective on systemic misogyny that included the vile tactics that the Harper dirty tricks handbook promote, when directed at women and launched by an Attack Parrot™ like Dagenais.

Misogyny is also – because of the very nature of its deep-seated, psychological hatred – a linking factor among the various [...] hate groups and militias. That means that people who hate women may also exhibit authoritarian, violent and bigoted behavior towards minorities.

From here.

Tuesday 3 December 2013

R U able to buy RU486 in Canada? Why not?*

Medical or chemical abortion is back in the news. We've written about it here often, most recently here.

It's a mystery why prochoice Canada has not approved RU-486 or Mifepristone.

The Canadian Medical Association is on the case.
Health Canada is being urged to approve a drug that is considered the “gold standard” of medical abortion and is already available in most other developed countries.

The drug mifepristone, commonly known as RU-486, is not available in Canada despite being the best known option for abortion, says a commentary published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

“This is the choice that many women actually want to have,” said one of the authors, Dr. Sheila Dunn of Women’s College Hospital in Toronto. “Canadian women don’t have it, and it’s unacceptable that we don’t.”

Medical abortion uses drugs rather than surgery to induce an early abortion, similar to a miscarriage. Mifepristone is taken orally and ends a pregnancy within one or two days.

Women in 57 countries have access to the drug, according to Dunn. It has been available in France since 1988, in Britain since 1991 and in the United States since 2000.
As we've noted here before, the fetus fetishists really really really hate medical abortion. It's private, safe, and cheap(er). It allows women to act quickly on an unwanted pregnancy. Any doctor can prescribe the pills, so one doesn't have to go to a clinic targetted by screaming nutbars.

So, here they are again with a petition against approving it.

The petition cites old data, now largely irrelevant because of changed protocols, but we really like this Godwinism.
And whereas RU-486 has ties to the Nazi death camps of WWII, given it was designed by the same company (Hoechst AG, formerly IG Farben) which supplied Hitler with the Zyklon-B gas used to kill millions of Jews, Poles and others in the gas chambers of Auschwitz;
Yep. They went there.

(The petition has a whopping 862 signatures at the moment.)

As we've said before, the government of Canada has a duty to provide top-drawer medical choices to patients. But it also has a duty to try to keep costs down. Which is exactly what bulk buying of RU-486 would achieve.

Look at Australian PM Julia Gillard's last act as prime minister.

Julia Gillard's last act as prime minister included signing off on cabinet approval for slashing the cost of abortion pill RU486 to as little as $12.

Listing the abortion drug on the taxpayer-funded Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) will see the price of a medical abortion in Australia drop from up to $800 to just $12 for concession card holders from August 1.

Women not eligible for concessions will pay around $70 under the PBS.
Safe, effective, private, cheap.

What's not to like?

So, will Health Canada do the sensible and responsible thing? Or will Rona Ambrose stick a base-appeasing spaniard in the works?

*Title taken from a comment by Alison suggesting a bumper sticker here.