Tracey Clark-Flory at Salon runs a skeptical eye over studies that prove that Americans value just about everything more than sex.
Incidentally, she uses some smart reading that should be applied to health and science headlines when shocking study conclusions seem contrary to common sense…
Take a survey finding that 43 percent of Canadians would choose bacon over sex – it was conducted by Maple Leaf Foods Inc., a bacon producer. Then there’s the one sponsored by the Better Sleep Council, a creation of the mattress industry, which found that 61 percent of American adults would choose a good night’s sleep over sex. See also: asurvey by mobile app company Telenav which found that — surprise, surprise – one-third of Americans would rather go without sex than their cellphone.
We boomers are the free love generation, but free time is precious. Between work, family and a thousand distractions it can be hard to even hear yourself think, never mind appreciate the love in your life. As we celebrate Independence Day, let’s not forget interdependence and the pursuit of happiness, and thank the founding mothers and fathers who sacrificed for the eight hour work day.
With a vote of 5-4, the Supreme Court of the United States has upheld the Health Care Reform legislation with the exception that the federal government's power to terminate states' Medicaid funds is narrowly read. Read the opinion here.
While Justice Anthony Kennedy was thought to be the swing vote, he ultimately dissented and Chief Justice John Roberts' vote ultimately saved the historic legislation.
Enjoying the day here with the family, and thought this post was a good one for remembering the true intent of the holiday. Happy Mother’s Day to all!
Salon has a review of the third day of the Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care Act, titled ‘A Brutal Day for Health Care.’
What I hear on the radio and read in the news as I work in the industry has me heartsick. Science, common sense and common decency say we cannot be a healthy or just nation when some of our hardest workers are one health problem away from bankruptcy. I see the expensive and devastating consequences of having to postpone basic preventive care. With a demographic bulge of older Americans entering Medicare, it seems insane to set them up to enter with dire needs when basic primary care could keep most of us healthy.
On the front lines of health care are millions of low-wage workers, many of whom lack health insurance themselves. They will be some of the first people who will benefit from strong health care reform. If you don’t think of a family, a worker, or an elder when you hear the word, ‘Medicaid’, you should. These are the people I serve. Why should those whose labor makes a public good possible be denied the benefits?
The federal spending issue turns on the expansion of Medicaid. Under the ACA, millions of the working poor – people with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level – are eligible for Medicaid. From 2014 to 2016, the federal government will pay 100 percent of the costs. Then its share decreases, to 90 percent after 2020. Because the ACA also gives states assistance with their new administrative costs, overall state spending will actually be lowered.
Twenty-six states are claiming that this conditional spending unconstitutionally coerces them, because they cannot realistically forgo the money, and because if they refuse to expand their rolls, they might lose every cent of Medicaid money. But let’s be clear: This is not about the states wanting to conserve their own money. It is about the states refusing to spend federal money, to help people that they do not want to help. (Paul Clement, the attorney for the challenging states, declared that his argument would not change if the federal government permanently paid 100 percent of the costs.)
Last week at Brown I heard a legal expert, Sara Rosenbaum, say that this case is the most important since Brown v. Board of Education. Those times also were contentious and painful. This time I fear that we will land on the wrong side of history.
Our generation has seen the global eradication of one devastating disease, Smallpox, and the emergence of another, Human Immunodeficiency Virus. HIV has been uniquely merciless in its reaping of the young and the healthy in their prime, in its mutations and transformations into a thousand awful ways to die. It was almost two decades into the pandemic before there was a glimmer of hope, with the synthesizing of effective antiviral medications.
After so many lost and so much deepening despair, there is some bright news. The same treatments that save lives reduce the risk of transmission. Although we do not yet have medications that eradicate the virus, we have medications that reduce the viral load. These medications, when used correctly, not only save the lives of those infected, but reduce the incidence of infection between partners and from mother to baby.
This development makes the ambitious goal of ‘getting to zero’ more than a wish.
“Getting to Zero”: UNAIDS Milestones For 2015
Zero vertical transmission and a 50% reduction in AIDS-related maternal death
A 50% reduction in the sexual transmission of HIV
No new HIV infections among drug users
Universal access to antiretroviral therapy for people living with HIV
who are eligible for treatment
A 50% reduction in deaths caused by tuberculosis for people living with HIV
Improved national social protection strategies and access to essential care and support for people with HIV and households affected by HIV
A 50% reduction in the number of countries that have punitive laws and practices around HIV transmission, sex work, drug use or homosexuality that block effective responses
A 50% reduction in the number of countries with HIV-related restrictions on entry, stay and residence
The HIV-specific needs of women and girls are addressed in at least half of all national HIV responses
Zero tolerance for gender-based violence
Social justice is integral to fighting an epidemic on this scale. Prevention is vital. The growing list of effective medications does not change the fact that HIV is a terrible disease that currently has no cure. All the ‘safer sex’, education, vigilant infection control in medical care still stands. In fact, it matters even more, now that we have a hope that this pandemic may finally be defeated.
AIDS Project RI is offering free rapid HIV testing today.
The rapid HIV test is done with a mouth swab with results on the same visit, another small piece of good news. No blood draw, no waiting weeks to find out.
More information may be found at www.aidsprojectri.org, by calling 401-831-5522, or emailing email@example.com.
A notice has been given to Occupy Providence members and has been posted around Burnside Park: they have 72 hours to vacate or they will be evicted. Given that so many other groups have expressed solidarity with the Occupy movement, it is unclear how this is going to play out. My hope is that it plays out non-violently, and also that the movement is not diminished in its importance. There is so little space for people to rally around an important cause at this point, and corporate pressure is increasingly squeezing out the voices of the 99%. We need to keep our ears and eyes open to what the opposition is saying or we will be increasingly dominated by corporations and their single-minded goal of increasing profits.
Just read this long piece by Kevin Drum about why unions improve life not just for union members, but for the entire middle class. The ultimate fact, as research in Drum’s article shows, is that politicians don’t do things for the middle class or the working class. We like to think Senators Whitehouse and Reed just love us because we’re their li’l peeps and they want to take care of us, but the truth is that politicians respond to powerful lobbying forces, and the past 30 years has seen a marked decline in powerful lobbies for the middle class. Drum presents two things you need to understand to get why our politicians have become so unresponsive to the needs of the middle class:
The first is this: Income inequality has grown dramatically since the mid-’70s—far more in the US than in most advanced countries—and the gap is only partly related to college grads outperforming high-school grads. Rather, the bulk of our growing inequality has been a product of skyrocketing incomes among the richest 1 percent and—even more dramatically—among the top 0.1 percent. It has, in other words, been CEOs and Wall Street traders at the very tippy-top who are hoovering up vast sums of money from everyone, even those who by ordinary standards are pretty well off.
Second, American politicians don’t care much about voters with moderate incomes. Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels studied the voting behavior of US senators in the early ’90s and discovered that they respond far more to the desires of high-income groups than to anyone else. By itself, that’s not a surprise. He also found that Republicans don’t respond at all to the desires of voters with modest incomes. Maybe that’s not a surprise, either. But this should be: Bartels found that Democratic senators don’t respond to the desires of these voters, either. At all.
Shelley Shaver visited our site and left a link to her epic poem, ‘Rain– A Dustbowl Story’. Climate change and economic collapse visited our country in the Depression, Shaver gives a voice to those who survived those times.
dis•tor•tion•ist (di stôr´ shə nist), n. 1. One who twists and bends reality into strange and unnatural positions. 2. One who twists or denies facts to fit their preferred political ideology, religious beliefs, or opinions.
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A dear friend of mine, whom I shall call Vicki in order to preserve her anonymity, endured repeated sexual abuse during childhood. She was one of three children raised in a churchgoing, upper-middle-class family. At night, her father, the man who should have been her protector, would quietly enter her room and molest her. Then, like a wraith, he would slip out and return to his wife’s side. When day dawned and the family gathered together for breakfast, it was as if nothing out of the ordinary had occurred. No one spoke of the abuse. Not Vicki, not the father who was her tormentor, and not the mother who preferred to turn away.
Many years later, well into adulthood, Vicki abandoned her silence and confronted her parents. She decried her father’s actions and gave voice to long-suppressed feelings of hurt and anger and betrayal. In response, her parents expressed shock and offered denials. They insisted that nothing of the sort had occurred and suggested that Vicki was deluded or disturbed. They accused her of being malicious and ungrateful. They refused to acknowledge the incest. They were so adamant and still had enough psychological power over her that she soon began to question what was real and what was not. She felt confused and crazy. Worse, Vicki started to doubt herself and what her memories and heart knew to be true.
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In 1610, Galileo published a short scientific treatise in which he detailed and expounded upon his observations through a telescope. In so doing, he gave new life to the teachings of Copernicus, who first proposed the theory that the Earth revolved around the sun. In 1616, for his advocacy of such beliefs, Galileo was subject to an Inquisition by the powerful Catholic Church. He was ultimately rebuked, and the theory of heliocentrism was denounced. A commission of theologians known as the Qualifiers declared that “this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts many places the sense of Holy Scripture.”
In 1632, after publishing a book which further challenged the geocentric view of the universe, Galileo was accused of heresy and ordered to stand trial “for holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world.” The Church found him guilty, and he spent the remainder of his life under house arrest. It was not until 1835, more than two centuries later, that Galileo’s writings were removed from the Church’s Index of Forbidden Books.
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According to the Institute for Historical Review, “an awareness of factual history is essential to an understanding of the great issues of our age.” This organization was founded in 1978 and describes itself as “an educational research and publishing center that works to promote peace, understanding and justice through greater public awareness of the past.” In particular, the Institute “informs the public about the Jewish-Zionist grip on America’s cultural and political life, World War II lies, distortions of Middle East history, myths about the Israel-Palestine conflict, the corrosive impact of “Holocaust” propaganda, and much more.” The IHR cites the work of many “revisionist scholars” who have “presented considerable evidence to show that there was no German program to exterminate Europe’s Jews, that numerous claims of mass killings in ‘gas chambers’ are false, and that the estimate of six million Jewish wartime dead is an irresponsible exaggeration.”
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One week ago, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told intelligence officials in his country that “the September 11 incident was a big fabrication as a pretext for the campaign against terrorism and a prelude for staging an invasion against Afghanistan.”
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From today’s New York Times:
AUSTIN, Tex. — After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.
The vote was 10 to 5 along party lines, with all the Republicans on the board voting for it.
The board, whose members are elected, has influence beyond Texas because the state is one of the largest buyers of textbooks. In the digital age, however, that influence has diminished as technological advances have made it possible for publishers to tailor books to individual states.
In recent years, board members have been locked in an ideological battle between a bloc of conservatives who question Darwin’s theory of evolution and believe the Founding Fathers were guided by Christian principles, and a handful of Democrats and moderate Republicans who have fought to preserve the teaching of Darwinism and the separation of church and state. [full article]
In the Huffington Post, Jeff Schneider writes “An Open Letter to the Texas Board of Education: Stop Rewriting History.”
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Vicki knows what happened to her—just as Galileo knew what he saw in the telescope and the Jews at Auschwitz and Buchenwald knew what was being done to them. The refutations of others cannot alter the truth. Yet the distortionists persist in their efforts to twist whatever facts they find inconvenient or discomfiting to fit their parochial values or beliefs. And they seek to impose their views on the rest of us. That is contrary to the best interests of a diverse and democratic society. When will we learn?