Stupid Girls

Friday, March 26, 2004

Pierceless Pubs

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Georgia House votes 160-0 to ban genital piercings for women
# with comments by H&HH and Phillip S.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Protect you Privates

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Michael Ventura, Austin Chronicle
Americans have been led to believe that their medical
histories would remain confidential. Now, in a radical
flip-flop, the Bush-Ashcroft Justice Department wants
hospitals and clinics to turn over thousands of records.

Monday, March 22, 2004

March for Women's Lives

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Hello March Supporters,
Thank you for joining the March for Women's Lives. Together we will make
this March the largest in history. Imagine marching with thousands of
women, men and children as far as the eye can see- the sound of all those
marching feet- thanks to everyone's grassroots organizing work! � �
This March is historic on many levels. This is the first time that the
Civil Rights Community has joined the Women's Movement to march for all of
our reproductive rights. In the future you are going to want to say that
you were a part of the March For Women's Lives, like people remember being
a part of the Civil Rights marches and the Peace marches. Don't allow your
friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives let the mundane activities of
their lives weigh them down and prevent them from joining!
Over 1000 organizations are Co-Sponsors for the March! �The American Civil
Liberties Union has become a major Organizer, along with Black Women's
Health Imperative, Feminist Majority, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National
Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Organization for Women
(NOW), and Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The NAACP and the
Sierra Club are new Co-Sponsoring organizations.
This is history in the making. Everyone who can be - MUST be here!
Individuals are welcome to March independently, but it's more enjoyable to
march with a group. All you need is 20 friends, family members, neighbors,
and/or co-workers to agree to attend and march together, and you are a
Delegation! �Think of all the groups you belong to. Recruit friends from
your alumni club, health club, reading group, or Meet Up group to form an
Informal Delegation. Each of your friends will know friends who will want
to be part of your Delegation.
Friends from all over the country can be a part of your group - one
delegation organizer is bringing together her friends from college to join
her for the March-making the March a reunion.

Register your group as a 'Delegation'. �Visit the here
homepage, click onto 'Form a Delegation' and fill in the form. You can also
telephone 202/349-3838 or fax 202/349-3839 the March office with your
contact information, delegation size, and travel plans. Let us know how you
choose to march-along with other delegations from your state, along with a
participating major organization, as part of a contingent, or some other
way. For example, a delegation can march with their state, or with a major
organization (like ACLU) and also send one member to represent their
delegation in one of the contingents that are developing: Women of Color,
Healthcare/Medical, LGBT, Domestic Violence, Peace, International, etc. The
member sent to join a contingent can carry a sign with the name of the
delegation they represent. �
Once registered, you will receive periodic Delegation email updates. Please
keep the March Office updated on your progress by updating your online
form-- it's exciting to see the numbers increasing!
Have a good time! �While you are organizing and fundraising for the trip
think up ways to make the trip memorable and enjoyable. Have a poster
making, T-shirt signing party. Check out
here PDF for fundraising ideas.
Consider attending area Meet-Ups to find others interested in the March.
You can invite Meetup
participants into your delegation. For more information, please visit
Available to all registered March website users, the Bulletin Board is an
excellent organizing tool and allows you to communicate with other Marchers
about many different topics including: co-sponsoring, forming a delegation,
transportation ideas, and organizing methods. Check it out and contribute
to our ongoing discussions as April 25th gets closer and closer! See the
link on the website Home page.
If you're coming in from out of town, remember to check the March for
Women's Lives Travel Guide. The Travel Guide contains important information
about getting to DC, directions to car and bus parking, pre-ordering your
delegation's Metro farecards, and links to area hotels. �You can download
and print out a coupon for discounted travel to and from the airports.
All this is just a click away at here.
If you're coming by bus, please remember to register it. Update your
delegation's bus information at here by clicking
"Form A Delegation." �Scroll down to find the question about transportation.
If, for any reason, you cannot walk the March route or stand for the Rally,
we have open trolleys to ride in for the March and seating for the Rally,
available by reservation. The trolley reservation deadline is 3/26. Please
contact the March office as soon as possible with the names of those
needing reservations [ or call202/349-3836]. �
� � �
T-shirts and button ordering information is now available at the website.
Link from the website home page. �

Be on time-the program starts at 10am. We are using the National Mall from
14th St. to 3rd St.. Once you reach the Mall, locate one of the many March
volunteers (will be clearly identifiable) surrounding the perimeter of the
Mall. Tell the volunteer the name of your delegation. The volunteer will
look at a chart and tell you where to join your delegation. The Morning
stage (14th St.end) program starts at 10am. The March steps off at 12 noon
from the 14th Street end. The afternoon stage (3rd St end) program runs
from 1 to ~4p.m. There will be speakers, entertainment, and celebrities at
both stages.

We need thousands of volunteers for the day of the March (bus greeters,
Mall perimeter volunteers to direct arriving delegations, march-route
marshals, volunteer tent, lost and found, medical/EMT, after Rally cleanup,
Contact Volunteer Coordinator Linda Lawson at: if
you can help.

We're making History! �As we are demonstrating, we are also celebrating our
power in numbers too large to ignore. The anti-choice minority seeks to
overturn Roe v. Wade. The day after Roe v. Wade is overturned, we don't
want to wish we had done more today. The fate of reproductive rights is in
your hands. Women across the world call on us to march for reproductive
On April 25th we will show the world that we ARE the majority!
March for Women's Lives
National Office.
(202) 349-3838

Coercive Medicine

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Lynn M. Paltrow,
Courts and medical organizations have long recognized a
patient's right to make healthcare decisions free from
governmental intrusion. Why should pregnant women have
fewer rights than other patients?

Friday, March 19, 2004

is "50 Cent" worth a plugged nickel?

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson, AlterNet
Black contempt for gays -- recently spelled out by rapper
50 Cent in a Playboy interview -- is hardly new.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


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I heard your daughter tell Larry King that you feel you've wasted your life.

I heard the gossip -slash- commentary, as you left the courtroom. They said you appeared unremorseful, with a hint of a smile.

I saw your face. That was no smile. That was the set jaw of a mortified woman, refusing to give the gathered jackels the satisfaction of seeing you cry. Your eyes looked haunted, grieving, determined to maintain dignity.

I burst into tears, remembering when the paramedics put me in an ambulance, as police officers stifled tears and whispered, "go with them, Rogi. Don't resist."

Some man, in civilian clothes, had entered my home without my permission, shoved me around, threatened to have me arrested, screamed obscenities at me. He said he was a fire marshal, but I never saw any I.D.

When I told him I'd have to ask him to leave, he called UNM Mental Health and had a doctor order a psychiatric evaluation on me.

Everybody else present -- Adult Protective Services, the police, a minister, Animal Control -- knew I was in my right mind and trying to do the right thing.

But this man wanted me punished for trying to defend my rights and my home.

I still don't know who he was. I think I saw him on the local news once, about a possible arson fire.

The cops were supposed to help me with my yard, so the War Zone kids had a safe place to play, study, eat. My home was a refuge from abuse, neglect and overwhelm.

Instead, they tore out my fruit trees and filled their ditches. They threw away garlic, growing in planters in my yard, which I'd planned to sell. They threw away all my bottle neck gourds, which I'd just begun to carve and paint into bird houses to sell. They threw out a hundred dollars' worth of bulbs, herbs, flowers and vegetables.

They threw away my bicycle: my only transportation. They threw out the kids' toys in the yard. They threw away my tools and my security lights, my only defense -- besides my dogs -- against drug addicts.

They even threw away my clean laundry, hanging to dry on the porch.

They blocked the gate, so I couldn't close it, by moving a storage building in its way. They threw out the side panel of my motor home, so I couldn't lock or secure it.

I'd been removed, by a fireman, from my home while they did this. He said he was taking me to buy groceries. He was really keeping me from protecting my property, so I wouldn't "interfere."

By the time I returned, my lush garden was reduced to rocks and dirt.

But it didn't stop there.

When this "fire marshal" came, he condemned my home for water damage from a bad roof. I pointed to roofing materials, delivered that week, up on the roof. I was to repair the roof for reduced rent.

He wouldn't listen. That's when Animal Control was called.

As I was being placed in the ambulance, I saw my cats and dogs, frantic, in cages, in a van, in the hot, July sun.

Every kid in the 'hood stood silently, safely away from this Ground Zero, witnessing. And I thought, what a bad example I've set: "if you TRY to make a difference, this is what we'll do to you."

I watched them string yellow "caution" ribbon around the property and duct tape a "condemned: substandard housing" poster to my front door.

The paramedic took my vitals as we drove to the hospital. She remarked that, except for slightly-elevated respiration, she was surprised that my blood pressure and pulse were normal, given the circumstances.

So, Martha, I know how you felt when you left that courtroom.

They burned another witch.

The longest I was at the hospital was waiting for the local minister to give me a ride back to what was left of my home.

When I returned, some neighbors were rounding up my ducks, chickens and geese. A couple I barely knew persuaded Animal Control that my animals and I could stay with them, in Moriarty.

I was evicted on the spot. I could only return, during daylight hours, for the next fifteen days, to retrieve whatever I could. I had no vehicle and would be staying with strangers, over twenty miles away.

It was Friday before a three-day, July 4th weekend, 4:00 pm. I couldn't contact a lawyer nor anybody else. After all, it was the Albuquerque Police and Fire Departments and Bernallilo County Adult Protection Services who'd done this to me. To whom would I complain?

That weekend, my neighbors broke in and robbed me. They found my check book and emptied out my Social Security Disability check.

I was homeless and penniless, and at the mercy of strangers who had an agenda I won't discuss here. Let's just leave it at: they didn't take me in out of the goodness of their hearts.

All my animals, except one cat and one dog, died or disappeared. I even had a little Hymalaian Siamese I'd rescued from a dumpster outside an abandoned apartment building. I'd named her, "Martha," after your cats.

I don't know if it was coyotes, feral dogs, or the couple's son, whom I'd caught dangling a hangman's noose over my dog's head once.

I do know that my things began disappearing, and that I caught that kid with them.

I was sick, when they put me in that ambulance. I hadn't eaten all day. I'd been up late, the night before, working in my yard.

I'd been beaten by a mentally ill man who was stalking me, climbing on my roof, opening windows, tearing up my fence. He stole my dog several times, to bait me.

I'd gone to his house to get my dog. He was crouched behind his wall, waiting for me. He grabbed my wrist, tried to pull off my dress, beat me in the head.

I'd called the police several times about him. They wouldn't take reports. But they had me down as a "nuisance," for calling so often.

Even as I stood in the street, dress torn, blood streaming from my head, they said the wouldn't report it because they hadn't witnessed it. And a restraining order would cost me $50.

I was issued a citation for having my dog running loose, even though the stalker stole him, and for not having dog tages, even though the stalker stole the dog collar. I had the dog's paperwork in the house, but who knows what happened to it.

I didn't get the citation, because I was homeless. The court issued a "failure to appear" warrant, when I didn't show up for the court date.

I tried to clear it up, but the court clerk said I'd have to pay $340, just to see a judge.

I said, "I can't afford that; I live on Social Security. What should I do?"

She said, "get the hell out of here, before I have you booked!"

So, I have a warrant, eight years later, for my arrest.

His beating, it seems, broke a tooth. Now, all my teeth are rotting and falling out.

I went to UNM Hospital, complaining of head pain; I explained I'd been beaten. They brushed it off as depression and sent me away unexamined and untreated.

My belly, that day in the ambulance, still hurt from losing my daughter, the previous year. Her death nearly killed me. I can't tell you the pain.

The father left me to fend for myself, keep the lights on, get new roommates. I almost lost the house then, because I was too sick from surgery to get everything done.

I dedicated my garden to my daughter. Every year, on the Vernal Equinox -- which would have been her approxemate birth date, had she survived -- I planted something special in the garden for her.

The police threw out that year's tulips.

I opened my home to the neighbor kids as a memorial to her. I taught them everything you teach on your programs, Martha: how to do things for yourself, how to be creative, interested, resourceful.

One of my best memories was a day, right before Christmas.

A flock of preteen girls, bespangled in plastic jewelry, giga pets and sparkle lip balm, cussed like sailors in the Crafts Room, putting up shelving with hammers and drills.

In the kitchen, gang banger wannabe boys, in baggies and do rags, slaved over hot pots of candy on the stove.

We were cooking a gingerbread tree, covered in candies and cookies, so we could all have something for Christmas. The boys were making truffles and lollipops.

I heard one say, "That ain't softball stage, foo'! Shoot, man, you gotta read the damn thermometer!"

I was standing in the hallway, between the girls and the boys, and just laughed 'til I cried.

The last time I was in that house, police were looking for narcotics. They thought I was running a gang out of my home.

They thought I was a Satanist. They'd come out, the previous summer, to investigate our Pow Wow.

The kids and I had dug, with permission from the local fire station, a small fire pit in the front yard for a pow wow fire.

We made fry bread and Navajo tacos. We sold sodas and candy.

We made ceremonial clothing. We decorated "drums," made of five gallon paint buckets.

We called the Four Directions, burned juniper, because we had no cedar, and prayed.

We danced and sang. Neighbor men brought their "old ladies," kids, dogs and drums to help us celebrate.

We'd built a fence around the front yard, to keep poultry in and crack heads out. Each kid painted his or her own boards, all different colors, and painted their prayers and pictures on them. We called it our "prayer fence."

We had memorial boards for the dead, the wounded, the missing. The boards were decorated with happy faces, stars, flowers.

"Why," said a member of the all-white, English-only Gang Unit, "is that fire pit in a circle?"

"'cause it's hard to dig a triangle, I guess," I replied.

"How come you've got five-pointed stars, painted on this fence?"

"How come there are five-pointed stars on the flag," I replied.

"What are you and the kids doing with these chickens?"

"Oh, no, you think I'm a Satanist, don't you?"

"Well, you seem to know an awful lot about it!"

His police report stated falsely that I was a paranoid schizophrenic and a self-proclaimed witch. No other police officer in this town would ever take me seriously again, while I was being stalked.

Now, Martha, I could have laid down, right then, in that ambulance, and died.

I was useless. I was a failure as a mother. I was a failure as a community activist. I was a failure as a home maker. I was a failure as a woman.

Talk about feeling like your life is wasted!

It has taken me almost ten years to recover, and I know I never will.

But I walk three miles round trip, two days a week, to get to this radio station to volunteer.

I operate eight news blogs at my domain,

I eat and wear what I find in dumpsters, when necessary. I still grow my own food.

I'm going to try to raise some duck pond eggs for chicks.

If your life is wasted, what does that say about mine?

Your daughter LIVES! You have family! You have friends!

You have money and connections! You built an empire!

When they put me in that ambulance that day, I had nothing. I had no one. My daughter was dead; I was homeless; I was penniless.

If you believe you're defeated, they've won, Martha!

Never stop. Never quit. Never give them the satisfaction!


Rogi Riverstone

Happy Birthday, Viri Diana



Alter Net women

You are reading


William Jelani Cobb,
The specter of black men having sex with white women has
been utilized to justify everything from lynching to
segregation. The case of one scholar-athlete in Georgia
shows that old racial habits die hard.

Mariana Katzarova, The Nation
Although the murders of young women in Juarez continue,
awareness grows and groups are mobilizing to support
victims and solve the crimes.

Janet Miller, AlterNet
When a New York Times writer decided to buy two Cambodian
sex workers, he ended up doing more harm than good.
*In Rights & Liberties: here

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

'Rush Limbaugh attacks widows and children'

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Maureen Farrell: 'Rush Limbaugh attacks widows and children'
Date: Tuesday, March 16 @ 10:14:20 EST
Topic: Hate Radio
By Maureen Farrell, BuzzFlash

"Most of us here in the media are what I consider infotainers.... Rush Limbaugh is what I call a disinfotainer. He entertains by spreading disinformation." --Al Franken at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, April 23, 1994

Given his history, people expect Rush Limbaugh to skew a few facts.

After all, in Limbaugh Land, Democrats and liberals are the boogiemen in America's closet, even when a mountain of evidence suggests otherwise. When he recently defended Howard Stern, for example, he automatically tacked on the usual spin. "If the government is going to 'censor' what they think is right and wrong, what happens if a whole bunch of John Kerrys, or Terry McAuliffes start running this country?" he wondered.

Never mind, of course, that the religious right is actively trying to turn America into a theocracy [] or that the FCC is headed by Colin Powell's son.

In a subsequent op-ed, Limbaugh challenged the notion that Stern was dropped from six Clear Channel stations because he criticized the president. "So are we now going to popularize loony conspiracy theories from the left-wing fringe to defend Howard Stern?" Limbaugh asked, overlooking the glaring fact that the "left-wing fringe" included conservative talk show host Charles Goyette, who openly admitted, on both NPR and in The American Conservative, that he was banished "to radio Outer Darkness" due to the "oil-and-water incompatibility of these two seemingly disconnected phrases: 'Criticizing Bush' and 'Clear Channel.'"

All that aside, Limbaugh's recent remarks directed at two Sept. 11 widows veer so far off his worn propaganda path that they bypass his "insensitive and inappropriate" statements concerning Donovan McNabb and venture into the realm of another shameful moment in broadcast history -- when he lit into 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton in 1993. "Everyone knows the Clintons have a cat. Socks is the White House cat. But did you know there is a White House dog?" Limbaugh said on TV, before holding up a picture Chelsea.

What could be worse than that?

Accusing 9/11 widows of being political shills comes crassly close.

"I can now begin to take credit for some things that happened on this program on Friday - A barnburner of a program," Rush declared on March 9. "You remember the program opened with some audio examples that we had found of families, certain family members, 9-11 victims, all saying the same things. And I cringed. I couldn't believe that the Democratic Party would sink this low, to exploit and capitalize on the misery and loss of families. But they did it. They found a way. In fact, they found some family members - and I'm going to say this - they found some family members who seemed to have more concern over who the president of this country is than over the sanctity of the loss of their own family members."

Limbaugh replayed an audio montage, featuring the voices of Sept. 11 widows Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle, who, he warned, "are actually part of the Democratic Party machine."

VOICE I: I think for someone like President Bush who has not cooperated with this commission, who has stonewalled this commission.

VOICE II: This president and his administration blocked the creation of the commission, have stonewalled the commission.

VOICE I: If this was realistic from the morning of September 11th, it would show President Bush before a group of school children listening to them read, while the twin towers were burning.

VOICE II: If he wants to show a picture of 9-11 depicting what he was doing, it should be a picture of him sitting and reading in a classroom to school children.
That's where he was on 9-11.

VOICE I: And we need to find out why 3,000 people were murdered on his watch.

VOICE II: Well, you know, this happened on his watch.

"This is two different women, and they appeared on four networks: CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, and NBC, and they each have three phrases that they use verbatim," Rush explained.

"These were prepared by Democratic campaign consultants. In fact, these women sound like campaign consultants, not grieving family members, and I was reluctant to make this charge; it's the first thing that crossed my mind. As I say, we've now learned all the organizational effort that's going on behind this and these people are indeed aligned with the Democratic Party. . . " []

Of course, anyone who's been following the saga of these women knows how ridiculous this assertion is. "For your information, I am one of the widows you are wrongly accusing of being 'schooled' by the Democratic party," Breitweiser reportedly wrote, in an open letter to Limbaugh. "I am not a Democrat. I voted for President Bush. So did my husband who was killed on 9/11. I would encourage you to educate yourself on who I am, prior to your making erroneous statements about me on your radio show."

"I expect an apology for your false statements and erroneous accusations," Gabrielle reportedly wrote Limbaugh. "NO Democratic or other party member 'schooled' me or prepared my statements!. . . Neither I, nor the Family Steering Committee has received ANY FUNDING from ANY person or organization. . . . The attacking of 9/11 families with false, inflammatory statements is beneath even you. Unfortunately, it accomplishes nothing and serves only avoid the real issues. []

Both widows also directed Rush to the 9/11 Family Steering Committee's Web site, which explains their apolitical mission.

"We have been accused of being tutored by a particular political party to make statements against the current administration. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are Americans who care about the future of this country. Our nonpartisan mission has always been clear: to find out how 9/11 happened so that nothing like it will ever happen again," the Web site reads, before making it clear the 9/11 Family Steering Committee seeks to rectify the problems that led to "widespread government failures, encompassing current AND prior administrations."

Unfortunately, Limbaugh isn't the only pundit casting suspicion on the widows' motives. When Kristen Breitweiser appeared on Hardball on Dec. 18, Chris Matthews seemed to grasp the larger picture. "I think, in order for us to make sure as a country that 9/11 will never happen again, we need to make sure that the individuals who are responsible for the failures are held accountable," Breitweiser said.

"It sounds like the problem is at the top," Matthews later responded. []

But two weeks ago, when Matthews hosted Monica Gabrielle, that flicker of recognition was gone.

After Gabrielle chronicled Bush's dismal record on Sept. 11, Matthews expected the grieving widow to understand G.W.'s "war president" campaign strategy. "If this president's going to run for re-election as a war president, if he's going to advance his cause and maybe the majority of the country's cause that we're in a war against terrorism, how can he fight that fight without mentioning what happened to us and then showing what happened to us dramatically, [on] 9/11?" Matthews asked.

But as Gabrielle tried to explain why using Sept 11 as a political platform was distasteful regardless of political persuasion, Matthews honed in:

MATTHEWS: So just to try to help the audience understand, your complaint here, it's not at the ads, that he's using 9/11 in the ads. Your complaint is he won't�he hasn't been forthcoming as to the details of what his policy was before 9/11 and his preparedness.

GABRIELLE: I disagree. I also find the ads tasteless. I don't want to see 9/11 used in a political forum as a platform for the Republicans to promote.

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you�Let me ask you a tough question. Are you a Democrat or a Republican?

GABRIELLE: Politics doesn't have anything to do with it.

MATTHEWS: What are you?

GABRIELLE: Independent. I don't...

MATTHEWS: Did you vote for Bush in 2000?

And so it goes. To media shills, everything is political, the surface is all, and spin is substance. And despite the fact that the Firefighters of America also said that "the use of 9/11 images" is "hypocrisy at its worst" and that that Bush has "basically shortchanged fire fighters and the safety of our homeland" [], the widows' message is lost.

"We don't care about politics. We never did. What we care about is finding out why this nation was so vulnerable to terrorists on the morning of 9/11. What we care about is making sure that something like that never happens again," Breitweiser recently said. [CNN]

So how consistent has the widows' message been? If you look at their record, way back when (when the Democrats were still cowering), they were fighting for truth, justice and the American way. In fact, within months of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Skyscraper Safety Campaign co-chairman Gabrielle was penning letters to editors [] while, in Aug. 2002, Breitweiser came out swinging on Donahue.

"I saw a picture of the president, I think it was Newsweek or Time, and I read the caption. And the caption said, you know, 'Andy Card telling the president about the second plane' And then I read that he proceeded to read for 25 minutes to the 2nd-graders, Breitweiser said. "And I read it again, and I thought it was. . . misreported. And it wasn't, and I got upset.. . . And I-I am concerned. I want to know why the Secret Service did not whisk him away. I want to know why he is the commander-in-chief of the United States of America, our country was clearly under attack, it was after the second building was hit. I want to know why he sat there [at Emma E. Booker Elementary School] for 25 minutes. . .
I'm a reasonable person. But when you look at the fact that we spend a half trillion dollars on national defense and you're telling me that a plane is able to hit our Pentagon, our Defense Department, an hour after the first tower is hit? There are procedures and protocols in place in this nation that are to be followed when transponders are disconnected, and they were not followed on September 11th."

Delving into everything from NORAD oddities to her sisterhood with fellow 9/11 widows, Breitweiser also explained the nature of their mission:

"At this point, we are fighting for an independent investigation, an investigation into 9/11 removed from the political process. . . . . We want politics removed. We want pure accountability, and we feel that an independent investigation is needed to have that.
We've had independent investigations with regard to Pearl Harbor, with regard to the shuttle accident. If there's a car accident, you have an investigation. We have waited 11 months, and I think it is deplorable that these women and myself have to leave our children, our homes, and go down to Washington and beg for answers. To have the right to have answers, we have to beg. And it's disgusting. . .
This country is not safe. I want to feel safe in this country. And I think that, to quote Edmund Burke, all that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing. And at this point, the families feel that way. We feel that nothing is being done to make this country safe." []

Since then, Breitweiser and Gabrielle have been tireless in their fight to protect all Americans. And Limbaugh's gross distortions aside, this montage reveals a much more accurate glimpse of their dedication.

VOICE I: "You know, I'm frustrated. I don't understand why we all do not share the same mission, which is to make this nation safe. And I don't understand why this commission has had roadblock after roadblock after roadblock. And we all want this nation to be safe. And I think because it's an election year, that's ridiculous. We should be safe here, not because it's an election year, not because people are embarrassed. We need to fix these problems, problems that have been made readily apparent in hearings. People need to care about this." � Kristen Breitweiser (American Morning, CNN, Feb. 5, 2004)

VOICE II: "We've been fighting for nearly 21 months -- fighting the administration, the White House. As soon as we started looking for answers we were blocked, put off and ignored at every stop of the way." � Monica Gabrielle ("Bush's 9/11 Cover-up?", June 18, 2003)

VOICE I: "If you were to tell me that two years after the murder of my husband that we wouldn't have one question answered, I wouldn't believe it." -- Kristen Breitweiser ("911 Chair: Attack Was Preventable," CBS News, Dec.18, 2003)

VOICE II: "In the course of two years we've had no accountability, no responsibility. You don't have a failure this large without many hands having screwed up." -- Monica Gabrielle ("Connecticut Families Brace For Second Anniversary Of 9-11:Attacks Transformed Many Families Into Activists,", Sept. 11, 2003)

VOICE I � "If we have an executive branch that holds sole discretion over what information is released to the public and what is hidden, the public will never get the full story of why there was an utter failure to protect them that day, and who should be held accountable." -- Kristen Breitweiser, ("Four 9/11 Moms Battle Bush," The New York Observer, Aug.25, 2003)

VOICE II:" Whatever President Bush and his administration may think, the one important point to remember is this: Since 9/11, they have stonewalled and prevented a transparent investigation of that horrific day. This is the echo that should be reverberating throughout our country." -- Monica Gabrielle, ("G.O.P. Campaign Evades 9/11 Truths" NY Times, Letter to the Editor, Aug. 3, 2003)

VOICE I: "I'm very disappointed in the press. I've been scheduled to go on Meet the Press and Hardball so many times and I'm always canceled. Frankly I'd like nothing better than to go head to head with Dick Cheney on Meet the Press. Because somebody needs to ask the questions and I don't understand why nobody is." -- Kristin Breitweiser ("Bush's 9/11 Cover-up?", June 18, 2003)

VOICE II: "I am doing this [rejecting millions in compensation] for my husband. He was a gentle man, and he was alive, trying to get out of that building that day. The dead. The dying. The smoke. The terror. No one should have suffered like that. I want accountability. I need answers." � Monica Gabrielle, ("Families Sue U.S., Reject 9/11 'Bribe': Ignore Deadline for Compensation," The Toronto Star, Dec. 23, 2003)

Get the picture? Unfortunately, it seems that if you ask questions -- or openly criticize King George's commercials -- Rush Limbaugh will accuse you of being an operative for the Democrats. And sadly, many dittoheads, blind to the truth, will listen to him and believe.

"I'm saying to myself, 'This can't be. The Democrats have not given these poor widows talking points. This just can't be,'" Limbaugh said on March 5, the first time he played the audio of Breitweiser and Gabrielle's statements. "They're going to make me level this accusation? They're going to?" I mean, I'm an observer of life. I watch the news; I see this. If you saw it, too, I'm sure you had to come to the same conclusion. And I'm sitting, saying to myself, 'Can it possibly be that the Democrats are out there accusing George Bush of running an attack ad and capitalizing politically on the attack of 9/11, have actually gotten hold of some widows, some family members, and gave them talking points?'

Because when you listen to what they say, they're all saying the same thing about where Bush was when this happened, and I keep saying, 'There's nothing these people do that will surprise me anymore, nothing the Democrats, nothing the liberals will do. They can't go any lower than they are. They can't have any more hatred than they have. They can't be more bitter than they are,' and they continue to surprise me. They can become angrier. They do become more embittered. They do get slimier!. . .
[T]hose people [Breitweiser and Gabrielle] and do not sound like victims; they sound like they've been coached. They sound like they have been faxed talking points, do they not? . . . .In the midst of all of these accusations of how low Bush can go, and how dirty Bush is and what an attack ad this was, to go get these family members and coach them -- and it's obvious. It's obvious they have been faxed something, or given something. Listen to this again. Now, the names are not relevant, but they're... Let me count the number of people here. One, two, three. There are two members here. There are two women here both saying the same things, but again, this is taken from three different -- well, four different networks -- CNN, NBC, CNBC, and MSNBC. " []

It's great that Limbaugh kicked his drug habit. But he should get also work on getting his facts straight.
Anyone who's been paying attention for the past two years realizes that regardless what Rush thinks, Kristen Breitweiser and Monica Gabrielle are not "actually part of the Democratic Party machine."

"I cannot relate to being obsessed with all this hatred. I just don't get it. It is unspeakable to me. It is dirty. It is wounding, " Limbaugh said on March 9, while smearing these Sept. 11 widows a second time.

Considering how Rush has slandered and misrepresented these women, he should be deeply and publicly ashamed.

Maureen Farrell is a writer and media consultant who specializes in helping other writers get television and radio exposure.

Copyright 2003, Maureen Farrell
Reprinted from BuzzFlash:

This article comes from The Smirking Chimp

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Saturday, March 13, 2004

Sound Bite from Beijing

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We, yes, We are rising up!
Rising from the depths of our despair.
Yes, we are rising up!
We are women of the world.
We're from the North, South, East and West
We are women of the world
We're from the mountains, the valleys, the cities and farms
We are women of the world, come from poverty, illiteracy, circumcision, shame
We are women of the world
We are housewives, 9 to 5's, mothers displaced
We are women of the world
And we're coming from Beijing ready for change
We, yes,
We are rising up!
Rising from the depths of our despair. yes,
We are rising up!
We are telling our stories and sharing our lives
So that never again can the truth be denied
We've untied our tongues and we're speaking out loud
We've unbound our feet and we're marching toward freedom
We are teaching each other and claiming our power
Together, we're building a better tomorrow.
We, yes,
We are rising up!
Rising from the depths of our despair. yes,
We are rising up!
Rising from the depths of our despair.
Women are rising, rising up!
Words and music by Ysaye M. Barnwell �1995 Barnwell's Notes Publishing (BMI)

In 1995, Sweet Honey In The Rock went to the International Women's Conference held in The Peoples Republic of China. An estimated 35-40,000 women, representing non-governmental organizations from around the world, assembled in Huairou outside of Beijing. When I returned home, I discovered that what had been described in the media here was not representative of the experience I had had. I had been commissioned to write a piece for the women's chorus of GALA Festival V and decided that the conference had provided obvious material. This song is my personal "sound-bite" on what happened at and as a result of the Beijing Womens'conference.
--Ysaye Maria Barnwell

recruiting Chinese women astronauts

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BEIJING (AFP) Mar 12, 2004

China plans to recruit women astronauts next year for future space voyages following a suggestion from China's leading women's group, state media said Friday.

Candidates are expected to be selected from not only mainland China but Hong Kong and Macau, a senior space official told Xinhua news agency.

Hu Shixiang, deputy chief commander of China's Manned Space Program, said even though China's pool of available astronauts were all highly trained men, it was possible to have less trained women on space missions.

Physical requirements for astronauts have been lowered due to the increased maturity of China's rocket and spaceship technology following successful flights involving five spaceships since 1999, Hu said.

"Healthy common people can become astronauts for space missions after specialized training thanks to China's improved space training skills and, women, of course, will be included," Hu said.

"Our selection of woman astronauts will not merely be a symbolic, image project."

. . . the All-China Women's Federation, the largest quasi-governmental women's group, has lobbied for women astronauts.

"This suggestion has been accepted by the central authorities," Gu Xiulian, president of the Federation told the Beijing Youth Daily recently.

. . . the first group of female astronauts will only need three to four years of relevant training.

Selection for female astronauts will not be confined only to the ranks of woman pilots, Hu said.

. . . Valentina Tereshkova of the Soviet Union became the first woman astronaut in the world when she was rocketed into space on June 16, 1963 aboard Vostok 6.

Sally K. Ride was the first American woman to fly aboard space shuttle Challenger in 1983


Friday, March 12, 2004

Herpes protection

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Molly M. Ginty, Women's eNews
Herpevac promises to protect female teens from herpes. But
experts are wrestling with how to finance and administer a
vaccine designed for a sexually transmitted disease.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Was Martha Stewart targeted?

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No charges have yet been brought against former Enron chairman Ken Lay who was a close friend of President Bush and a major Republican campaign contributor, while Martha Stewart, who is a major Democratic contributor, faces up to 20 years in prison for lying to a federal investigator. [includes transcript]

The Bush presidency has been marked by war. The invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq and now the apparent overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti. But these three years have also been marked by rampant corporate crime. Enron, Tyco, Adelphia, WorldCom have all become household names. The Bush administration has said that it is a priority of the president to crack down on corporate crime. But most of the CEOs and corporate officials responsible for the collapse of huge companies and the loss of thousands of jobs walk the streets with no criminal charges and no jail sentences hanging over their heads.

No charges, for instance, have been brought against Ken Lay, who was chairman of Enron when its $9 billion collapse in 2001 ended the jobs of more than 5,000 workers and decimated the retirement savings of millions of investors. Lay is a close friend of Bush and a major Republican campaign contributor. In fact, Lay was one of his closest advisers, one of his "pioneers," raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for Bush's campaign. After Enron collapsed, Kenny Boy--as Bush referred to his friend--became Mr. Lay.

Instead, the poster-child for this new crack-down on corporate crime is Martha Stewart. She is facing up to 20 years in prison after a jury found her guilty on all charges last week for covering up her sale of ImClone stock just before the price plummeted. Quite the opposite of Lay, who is deeply tied to the Republicans, especially the Bushes, Martha Stewart is a major contributor to the Democrats. She has given more than $150,000 in political contributions--all of it to the Democrats. This according to United Press International.

The Stewart decision was frontpage news across the country. Headlines screamed "Martha Stewart convicted on all counts in stock-trading trial." But what many people don't know is that the government did not charge Stewart with insider trading. In addition, the judge threw out the most serious charge in the case - securities fraud. So what was Martha Stewart guilty of? - Basically, of lying to a federal investigator. The law, which lawyers usually call 1001, for the section of the federal code that contains it, prohibits lying to any federal agent, even by a person who is not under oath and even by a person who has committed no other crime.

Harvey Silverglate, a criminal defense and civil liberties attorney based in Cambridge, Mass.
Elaine Lafferty, Editor-in-Chief of Ms. Magazine.

Bethany McLean, co-author of "Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron." She is also a staff writer for Fortune magazine.


Working Moms in Bind

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Working Moms in a Bind
Heather Boushey, Center for American Progress
March 8, 2004

This month, Congress must reauthorize the welfare reform law passed in 1996. As Congress considers welfare reform's track record, let's look at what really helped low-income families find jobs and care for their families.

The list is short: good jobs, child care, and health insurance. Without these, welfare reform is a sham.

A look at the facts shows that the punitive measures embodied in the welfare reform law were not the primary cause of its success.

Welfare reform was successful because the economy was good and because work supports -- child care and health insurance -- helped make work pay.

During the late 1990s when the states implemented welfare reform, jobs were plentiful and wages were rising, especially for low-wage workers. The tight labor market led to historically high levels of employment among Americans and more mothers were at work than at any previous time.

The strong economy meant that finding employment was easier than it would have been if welfare reform passed in the middle of a recession or in a period of falling inflation-adjusted wages.

Finding a job, however, is not enough to ensure that former welfare recipients are successful off welfare. What made the difference for many welfare mothers was the increased availability of child care and health care that were a part of welfare reform.

Since most former welfare recipients found jobs that did not offer health insurance and since child care is critical for working mothers, these work supports often made the difference between keeping a job and not.

Welfare reform recognized that a low-wage job might be insufficient to sustain a family through the notion of "making work pay." As a part of this, welfare reform gave states the flexibility and the funds to provide assistance to welfare mothers who began working.

Fortuitously, states had more money per welfare recipient in the late 1990s than they had previously because welfare rolls fell faster than funding levels.

Many states did use this extra cash to make work pay. Over the four years between 1997 and 2001, states gave an extra $7.7 billion to help pay for child care for low-income families. They gave an extra $24 billion to cover low-income children under the new Children's Health Insurance Program. They also gave more money for transportation and job training.

These extra funds helped mothers transition into the world of work. Access to child care was critical.

Finding child care in most American communities is tough for any parent. It is even harder for low-income families. On average, for low-income families -- those below 200 percent of poverty -- child care eats up about 14 percent of their family budget, compared to only about 7 percent for other families.

Money spent on child care directly supports the employment of mothers.
Mothers who use child care centers are more likely to stay employed than are mothers who turn to informal kinds of care, such as their grandmother, sister, or neighbor. Informal care can be wonderful -- when it works.

However, informal care is frequently not reliable, which means that it is inadequate for workers who can get fired if they must take off work to care for children.

Money spent on increased access to health care was also critical since most low-wage employers do not provide their employees with affordable health insurance. Among low-wage workers, only about one-third receive health insurance from their employer. The Children's Health Insurance Program, implemented in 1997, sought to increase coverage for children of the working poor, many of whom were former welfare recipients.

This is not to say that funding levels for child care or health care were entirely sufficient in the late 1990s. The Department of Health and Human Services reported that only about one in eight children eligible for federal child care subsidies actually received any assistance in 1999. Further, even though health insurance coverage increased for low-income children, millions remained uninsured.

The picture has worsened through the recession and tepid recovery.

As states sought to balance their budgets over the last two years, child care and health care subsidies to working parents were often first on the chopping block.

Thirty-two states have made cuts to their low-income child care programs and the Children's Health Insurance Program has been cut back in 22 states.

The Bush administration had the opportunity to prevent these drastic cuts. They could have offered real budget assistance to the states to limit these cuts.

This would have both helped their fiscal bottom line, as well as helped provide valuable assistance to families struggling to make it in a job-loss recovery. Instead, the administration gave tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans.

The issue before Congress now is what worked and what didn't in welfare reform. The administration believes that what worked were the sticks, not the carrots. Their proposed changes would limit child care spending while increasing the hours of work required for welfare recipients. The administration wants welfare moms to work 40 hours per week -- more hours than the typical mom works -- with no additional money to help pay for child care.

This blindness to understanding what working families need to make work work will only hurt families doing their best to find and keep jobs in today's economy. It is most telling that even though the economy has more than 2 million fewer jobs today than it had when Bush took office, the administration expects the lowest-paid workers to put in more time at work.

Dr. Heather Boushey is a research economist with the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Plant Estrogens May Fight Menopausal Bone Loss

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NEW YORK - Adding to evidence of the potential benefits of so-called plant estrogens, a new study suggests that isoflavone supplements may help reduce menopausal bone loss.

UK researchers found that, when taken for a year, the supplements appeared to curb spinal bone loss in women between the ages of 49 and 65.

Isoflavones are compounds found in soybeans, chickpeas and other legumes that are similar to the female hormone estrogen. Because of this, researchers have been studying whether soy protein or supplements containing isoflavones might act as a sort of "natural" hormone replacement therapy.

Studies have shown that Asian women, whose traditional diet is rich in soy, have a relatively low rate of hip fracture, as well as breast cancer and heart disease. In addition, animal research has suggested that isoflavones might lessen bone loss related to waning estrogen levels.

Some studies of women, however, have found no evidence of bone benefits, and much of the research on isoflavones has involved only small groups of women followed for a relatively short time.

The new study, which followed 177 women for a year, is one of the largest and longest investigations of an isoflavone supplement to date, according to the authors. They found that compared with women randomly assigned to take a placebo, those who took a daily isoflavone tablet showed less bone loss in the lower spine.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Novogen Ltd., maker of the isoflavone supplement Promensil, provided the tablets and partial funding for the study.

Despite the study's positive results, it's too early to recommend isoflavone supplements for fighting bone loss, study author Dr. Sheila Bingham, of the Medical Research Council Dunn Human Nutrition Unit in Cambridge, told Reuters Health.

For one thing, long-range studies are necessary to determine whether isoflavones can cut the risk of bone fractures, a major cause of disability among older adults.

Also unclear, Bingham noted, is whether a soy-rich diet might be more or less beneficial than isoflavones supplements when it comes to bone health. The supplement her team studied is derived from red clover.

The study involved women ages 49 to 65, most of whom were postmenopausal and all of whom had recently had a mammogram to screen for breast cancer. Women with a history of the disease were excluded.

At the end of the study, women in the supplement group had lost less bone density in the lumbar spine than those in the placebo group had. There was no clear difference between the groups as far as bone density in the hip, according to the report.

To help ward off the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, experts advise women to get enough calcium and vitamin D, avoid smoking and exercise regularly throughout their lives.

Story by Amy Norton
Story Date: 11/3/2004
Reuters News Service 2003
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Scalia addressed homophobic group while considering gay rights case

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by Richard A. Serrano
and David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times
March 8, 2004

WASHINGTON -- As the Supreme Court was weighing a landmark gay rights case last year, Justice Antonin Scalia gave a keynote dinner speech in Philadelphia for an advocacy group waging a legal battle against gay rights.

Scalia addressed the $150-a-plate dinner hosted by the Urban Family Council two months after hearing oral arguments in a challenge to a Texas law that made gay sex a crime. A month after the dinner, he sharply dissented from the high court's decision overturning the Texas law.

Some experts on legal ethics said they saw no problem in Scalia's appearance before the group. But others say he should not have accepted the invitation because it calls into question his impartiality on an issue that looms increasingly large on the nation's legal agenda.

Scalia declined to comment on his appearance before the group.
Scalia's activities outside the court in two other instances -- both involving hunting trips -- have also drawn criticism for suggesting partiality on cases before his court. But the Philadelphia dinner May 20, unlike the other cases, shows him appearing to support partisan advocates on a hotly disputed issue.

The code of conduct for the federal courts broadly warns judges against conduct that "would create in reasonable minds � a perception that the judge's ability to carry out judicial responsibilities with integrity, impartiality and competence is impaired."

It says a judge may participate in civic and charitable activities that "do not reflect adversely upon the judge's impartiality."

Supreme Court justices are not bound by the judicial code, which applies to all other federal judges. The high court makes its own rules on outside judicial behavior, but cites the code as its main guideline.

The Urban Family Council, which hosted the dinner, was not a party to the Texas case. But it is backing a separate lawsuit that seeks to overturn a Philadelphia city ordinance allowing gay couples who work for the city to register as "life partners" to qualify for pension and health benefits, which is an increasingly common practice.

William Devlin, who founded the council, is lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, which is pending before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Both sides say the case of Devlin vs. City of Philadelphia has a good chance of reaching Scalia's court.

Devlin said he phoned the justice at home last year to invite him to speak at the group's dinner, which was being held to raise money to support the lawsuit and other council activities. The dinner also honored the retiring Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, who has said homosexuality is "an aberration, a moral evil" -- and is an outspoken opponent of the life-partners ordinance.

The judicial code bars judges from raising money for outside groups.

It also says a judge should not "permit the use of the prestige of the judicial office for that purpose."

After Scalia accepted the invitation, Supreme Court staff contacted Devlin to make the justice's appearance conditional on the understanding that the dinner could not make a profit.

To satisfy the court staff, Devlin said he assured them that any money from the dinner -- after expenses to rent the banquet room and pay for food and service -- would be refunded to guests. But, Devlin said, that turned out to be unnecessary.

According to Devlin, the event made no money. He said he didn't recall how much was collected. If all 125 attendees bought tickets, it would have brought in $18,750.

"It was a wash," he said, adding that the bill for the open bar was higher than expected.

Devlin said the council offered to pay all of Scalia's expenses and to give him an honorarium, but the justice declined. "He wouldn't even let us pay his parking," Devlin said.

The Urban Family Council is a Christian-based group dedicated to "preserving life, the family and marriage," Devlin said. Gay advocacy groups and Philadelphia city officials characterize the group as blatantly anti-gay.

"The Urban Family Council is very clearly not supportive of gay families," said Stacey Sobel, executive director of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Civil Rights in Philadelphia. "It's very clear they have an anti-gay stance.

"And that should have been very obvious to anyone who was invited to speak to them. If it wasn't, then it should be incumbent on members of the judiciary to investigate organizations before they speak to them," Sobel said.

Supreme Court justices often speak to legal groups, such as bar associations and law school audiences. Some also have spoken in recent years to legal groups with an ideological bent, such as the conservative Federalist Society or the liberal American Constitution Society.

Over the years, some justices also have written strongly worded opinions on such contentious issues as abortion, gay rights and the death penalty.

But generally, they avoid any connection with or appearances before partisan or activist groups that fight for those issues in court.

Several experts on legal ethics said Scalia should have turned down the speaking invitation.

"This would raise a concern in the minds of a lot of people. And I would say it is not the right way to act as a judge," said University of Pennsylvania law professor Geoffrey C. Hazard. "He is talking to a group that has a strong view on the kind of issue that will come before the Supreme Court. I think it is preferable for justices to exercise restraint and to back away from groups that are overtly political."

Article continues here.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Lesbian love lit. Lynne Cheney

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LAURA FLANDERS: The Lynne Cheney players are taking to the stage and I think they will be coming to the conventions. They did an extraordinary job, Maggie Moore, Lois Weaver.

People may remember, after 9-11, somebody was drawing up a list of who was patriotic and who wasn't; it was the American Association of Alumna, a group founded by Lynne Cheney, keeping with her history as a culture warrior, since the 1990's, when she headed up the National Endowment for the Humanities. She has been the moral arbiter of who receives government funding and who is accepted politically correct, politically incorrect and part of the campaign to belittle political correctness and complain that feminists were taking over campuses and that people of color were destroying the cannon. How did she get this standing of culture warrior and arbiter of morality in the United States? On the basis that she was a published author.

We went to look at what she had actually published; it turns out, at the time she was appointed to the N.E.H., she published two novels. One "Executive Privilege," a not very good suspense novel set in Washington. The second was this book "Sisters" that came out in 1981 in kind of Gothic paperback, Signet classic. I found a copy after much searching and it is a romance set in late 19th century Wyoming that looks at, you know, the close relationships between women and there are women in the book that articulate, you know, why are our relationships not taken seriously, that talk about the passion they have for one another.

The other more interesting character is really the Lynne Cheney character in the book. The protagonist has run away from the church school, run away from the convent to go and join the musical theater and she travels the country with a musical theater troupe led by a charismatic woman who is a big advocate of free love and who takes her aside and says you are very beautiful. You are going to have a lot of relationships with men, but don't be caught by men, don't be trapped by them. This is how you can avoid being trapped and she presents her with a laquered box filled with condoms, basically and other preventive devices. And there is a strong message in the book that women can enjoy sex without getting pregnant and having children if they can have the protection that comes with contraception.

That is the Lynne Cheney position in 1981. Now she is part of an administration that is denying condoms to people who need them for HIV prevention in countries all around the world. She is part of an administration that is making the argument -- the opposite argument for what her character Sophie made in 1981. She may want to come forward and say I've completely changed my views, but don't just drop this book off your official White House biography as you have done. Don't pretend you didn't once hold those views and explain how you've changed those views. If you were then an advocate of free love and of condoms and if you understood the importance -- and her novel is not beautifully written -- but the message is pretty clear that condoms can liberate women from this sort of war of the sexes as she describes it, it's --

AMY GOODMAN: It's also a steamy lesbian love novel.

LAURA FLANDERS: It is hysterical. It is hysterical, it is silly. She says no more than 50 people ever read it. It is worth reading to realize these people who now cough themselves up as having this strong moral compass right v left -- right v wrong and right v left, perhaps, have a far more checkered past.

AMY GOODMAN: It's not just that does she -- is she painted with the same brush as the administration.

She herself is one of the leading conservatives. When you have someone, she recommends the right wing of the Republican party.

LAURA FLANDERS: The two wives perform that function. Lynne Cheney represents the right. She is the culture warrior for the hawks.

Laura Bush represents the social moderates and they send her on the campaign trail to woo the social moderate voters in this election.

AMY GOODMAN: I was fascinated to read about George Bush Sr. in your book and Barbara and their view on abortion before they were against it.

LAURA FLANDERS: When he was a congressman, he was called rubbers.
He was in favor of government distribution of contraception. She was a big funder of planned parenthood. The point here is that these people are cynical, hypocrites after power. They will change their position for political reasons. And their policies are driven by interests in profit, in self-advancement, not necessarily the good of the country. In many cases they have completely switched their views, when it comes to what serves the public interest, and that is one good example. When he was up against Ronald Reagan in the presidential campaign of 1980, he needed to be as right wing as Reagan was, and he abandoned pro-choice Republican women who had brought him to that point in the campaign and they're still steaming over that.

Friday, March 05, 2004

Women superior deminers

You are reading Power Finds Foothold in Cambodia's Minefields

TA KROUK, Cambodia - Ing Sokhey and her colleagues like to look good for work. After all, keeping up appearances is important when you spend five days a week face down in a Khmer Rouge minefield.

"I always wear a bit of eyeliner and mascara. I want to look nice," says the pretty 25-year-old Cambodian, otherwise decked out in overalls, blast vest and Perspex helmet - the distinctly unfeminine garb of a deminer.

Around her, in a maze of bright red string marking out cleared from mined scrubland, 10 other women work away diligently with metal detectors and knives, searching for the mines, bombs and booby-traps left behind by years of civil war.

It may not look like it, but the team, run by Britain's Mine Advisory Group (MAG), are making history as the war-torn country's first, and probably only the world's second, all-female demining team.

Taking a quick break in the middle of their minefield, the women of Mine Action Team 12, as they are officially known, are not letting this rare example of 'girl power' in the still highly traditional southeast Asian nation, go to their heads.

"It's a good job, and it helps me look after my family," said Liat Chumbury, 45, whose husband was killed by a land mine in 1988. "In the beginning I was afraid, but one quickly gets used to it. I've been well-trained and I work carefully."


After the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge in 1979, Cambodia had to endure nearly 20 more years of war as remnants of Pol Pot's ultra-Maoist guerrillas slugged it out with first Vietnamese then Cambodian government troops until 1998.

In the wake of a constantly shifting front line, millions of land mines, mostly of Soviet, Chinese or Vietnamese origin, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) are littered over much of the western stretches of the country.

"We laid so many mines during the war. The fighting was all over the place," said Khin Pha, a 50-year-old former Khmer Rouge soldier sitting under a tree near Ta Krouk. He, like many in the area, has only one leg.

In the huge clean-up, started in 1992, women have often shown themselves to be better than male counterparts because of a tendency to keep a cool head in a hot spot.

"Generally speaking, we feel the women have a slightly steadier approach, and this is the kind of work which demands a lot of patience and stability," said MAG's country director, David Hayter. The all-woman team, started up six months ago to give experienced female deminers a chance to climb the promotional ladder in a male-dominated military-style hierarchy, is proving such a success that MAG plans to create two more in the next year.

"It's still fairly early days but we are confident with the experience they have it's going to work fine. Their output is no different from an all-male team," Hayter said.


Earning nearly $200 per month, in this case paid by Christian aid organization World Vision and the Australian government, the women have highly sought-after jobs in a country where many only make that much in a year.

That is not to say working in Ta Krouk, a village of about 30 wooden huts surrounded by heavily mined scrub 40 miles southwest of the capital of Battambang province, is a picnic.

Clearing a 75-ft wide channel from the road to a stream used by the villagers, the team have already found 11 mines, eight pieces of UXO - most of them mortar bombs - and more than 49,000 pieces of metal in an area smaller than a soccer field.

With any scrap of metal, from bullet casings to coins to a chewing gum wrapper, all set to trigger detectors, progress is a painstaking and stressful 215 square ft per person per day.

But with poverty and landlessness forcing many villagers and internal refugees elsewhere in Cambodia to move back into mined areas, the need for clearance teams has seldom been stronger.

As long as funding continues, Mine Action Team 12 can be safe in the knowledge they have a lifelong career saving other people's lives as well as giving a much-needed boost to the reputation of the fairer sex.

"At first some men said 'Women can't clear mines', but now they realize we can, and they thank us," said team supervisor Seng Somala.

Story by Ed Cropley
Story Date: 5/3/2004
Reuters News Service 2003
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"Girl power?" These are adult women! This phrase is used to trivialize the women and the sexism and descrimination that holds us back!

These aren't silly fluffs; these are HEROS and deserve respect and equality.

"girl power" gimme a break!

talk about editorializing a news story!

folate reduces ovarian cancer risk?

You are reading Folate May Lower Ovarian Cancer Risk

NEW YORK - The results of a study conducted in Sweden indicate that high levels of folate obtained from food sources may protect against ovarian cancer. The benefits were found to be primarily among women who consumed at least two drinks of alcohol per week.

Previous reports have shown that dietary levels of folate, a B vitamin also known as folic acid, are inversely related to the risk of breast and colorectal cancer. In contrast, few studies have looked at the association between folate intake and ovarian cancer risk.

To investigate, Dr. Alicja Wolk, from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, and colleagues analyzed data from a population-based group of more than 60,000 women living in Sweden. The subjects ranged in age from 38 to 76 years and all were cancer-free at study enrollment, between 1987 and 1990.

By follow-up in mid-2003, a total of 266 women had developed ovarian cancer, the researchers report in the current issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Overall, women with the highest level of folate in their diet (at least 204 micrograms/day) were 33 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer than those with the lowest levels (less than 155 micrograms/day).

Among women who consumed more than about two drinks per day, the risk reduction seen with high folate intake was much higher -74 percent.
In contrast, high folate intake provided no protection against ovarian cancer in women who consumed lesser amounts of alcohol, the investigators point out.

"Additional studies are needed to determine the generalizability of our results to other populations that have higher folate intakes and to evaluate the efficacy and safety of high doses of folate from supplements with respect to cancer," the authors conclude.

Story Date: 5/3/2004
� Reuters News Service 2003
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hormone therapy halted

You are reading Halt Hormone Therapy Trial

WASHINGTON - The National Institutes of Health said this week it had stopped a trial of women taking estrogen replacement therapy after finding the pills not only failed to improve their health but also may have slightly raised the risk of strokes.

It was the second broad trial of hormone replacement therapy to have been halted in two years. In July 2002, women taking estrogen and progestin were told to stop because of the risk of heart attack, stroke and some forms of cancer.

The trial stopped this week was a separate arm of the same trial, called the Women's Health Initiative. The 11,000 women in this part of the study were taking Wyeth Co's WYE.N Premarin, an estrogen-only pill made from the urine of pregnant mares.

"After careful consideration of the data, NIH has concluded that with an average of nearly seven years of follow-up completed, estrogen alone does not appear to affect (either increase or decrease) heart disease, a key question of the study," the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, which organizes the Women's Health Initiative, said in a statement.

"At the same time, estrogen alone appears to increase the risk of stroke and decrease the risk of hip fracture. It has not increased the risk of breast cancer during the time period of the study."


Menopausal women and their doctors were shocked when the Women's Health Initiative showed in 2002 that hormone replacement therapy did not, as had widely been believed, prevent heart disease.

Millions of women had been told taking hormone replacement therapy would ease the symptoms of menopause and help prevent heart disease, osteoporosis and memory loss.

Doctors hoped that somehow taking estrogen only would prove more benign, but Tuesday's announcement did little to support those hopes.

Usually estrogen alone is taken by younger women who have had hysterectomies, as opposed to hormone combinations given to menopausal women.

"The increased risk of stroke in the estrogen-alone study is similar to what was found in the (Women's Health Initiative) study of estrogen plus progestin when that trial was stopped in July 2002," the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute said.

"In that study, women taking estrogen plus progestin had eight more strokes per year for every 10,000 women than those taking the placebo. The NIH believes that an increased risk of stroke is not acceptable in healthy women in a research study."

Last May, researchers found that combined hormone replacement therapy also slightly raised the risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia.

The Food and Drug Administration, which has been directing hormone replacement therapy makers to update their labeling with clear warnings, said it would act on the latest findings.

"FDA is advising women that post-menopausal hormone therapy has never received approval for prevention of heart disease, or cognitive disorders such as Alzheimer's disease or memory loss," the agency said in a statement.

"This potential risk is reflected in the current product label for Wyeth's estrogen therapy products," Wyeth said in a statement.

"It should be noted that the 0.625 mg strength of Premarin was studied in the (Women's Health Initiative); today, Wyeth has a number of lower dose estrogen and estrogen plus progestin options widely available," the company added.

There are no statistics yet to show whether lower-dose hormones may be safer.

The FDA said women with severe menopause symptoms should still be able to consider taking hormone replacement therapy, but only for the shortest time possible.

Story by Maggie Fox, Health and Science Correspondent
Story Date: 4/3/2004
� Reuters News Service 2003

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umm...why didn't animal trials reveal this info? perhaps because it wasn't studied long enough?

Dear Mr/Mrs. Heterosexual

You are reading Mr/Mrs. Heterosexual
# by Underground Panther in the Sky March 5, 2004

Ok let me get down to it...

Dear Mr/Mrs. Heterosexual,

I must ask all of you as a general population, Has anyone MURDERED you for being attracted to the opposite sex quite against your will?

Has anyone denied you a job for being attracted to the opposite sex?

Has hetero CONSENSUAL sex been made illegal ? Straight sex is OK to society even though it heavily burdens society.. Sex with opposite genders produces unwed mothers, divorces, unwanted kids, abortion, and many other social ills fundamentalist Christians love to whine about.

Why are homophobic men so scared of what other people do that they are not involved with are doing? Why should hets have a right to be in denial? Be bullies and hurt gay/trans human beings? Are they phobic? or ashamed of being fascinated?

Why must het men intrude in communities to tell us how to disappear? Gays are not telling the straights to go away. The Gays are telling the straights STOP abusing us, stop scapegoating, stop bullying, beating, and killing us.

It has been found if a person knows a gay person they are less likely to abuse gay people. The person apparently has empathy, friendship, and honesty override the urges to act out self denial shame and hypocrisy. Because homophobes are attracted to homosexuality and cannot~~ no, will not admit the attraction even to themselves. This stress, shame, and insecurity makes homophobes very manipulatable by rigid "strong man" authoritarians who have selfish agendas the "followers" are not privy to. A lot of leaders seek servants, flatterers, money, or deployable agents -- "believers" -- to act out the leader's mental illnesses for them. When 80% of homophobic men get aroused at images of men, I see there is a significant trend there.

As for the slippery slope arguments... In West Virginia -- It is already legal for a male to have sex with an animal as long as it does not exceed 40 lbs. Do you realize bestiality is ALWAYS non consenting sex? An animal under 40 pounds being raped by a man would damage the animal's body. Yet this is legal in West Virginia. Nobody, especially no fundamentalist homophobe, has said ANYTHING about how wrong this legal rape law is.

Do a Google search, the Law exists.

And the Fundies tend to omit this bit of information about laws already passed because it ruins their "purity" arguments on TV when they rail against gays engaging in CONSENSUAL sex ... Yet ... Here go the hypocrites.

Can you say HYPOCRITES! Santorum is a true closet pervert, secretly wanting to engage in polygamy and animal sex. He doesn't seem to respect a partner's consent very much if he lusts for animals. If you follow the arousal rates of homophobes to images of men and the kind of talk fundamentalists do you will know what Santorum and his self righteous buddies lust over ~~ secretly.

Oh and a little piece ... just to offend the offensive: Go ahead, look at it, homophobe. I know you want to ... but you just won't admit you are fascinated ...

Underground Panther in the Sky

Toothpaste, Cough Drops, Aspirin, Contraception

You are reading, Cough Drops, Aspirin, Contraception
Katha Pollitt, The Nation
March 3, 2004

For a moment, it looked as if the FDA was going to do the right thing. It was going to go with medical science and make emergency contraception available over the counter, so that women who've had unprotected sex would have ready access to a postcoital method that prevents pregnancy 89 percent of the time. This was, after all, the overwhelming recommendation of its own advisory committee (of twenty-seven members, only three voted against OTC status, all professionally undistinguished Bush appointees from the Christian right: David Hager, the notorious promoter of prayer as the cure for PMS and denier of birth control to unmarried women; and Susan Crockett and Joseph Stanford, who won't prescribe it, period).

It makes sense: After all, emergency contraception, also known as the morning-after pill and marketed as Plan B and Preven, is only a quadruple helping of certain birth control pills. Women in the know have been dosing themselves this way for years; the FDA found it safe and effective in l999. EC is available over the counter or directly from a pharmacist in some seventeen countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Canada and Portugal. The current system in the United States, in which women have to find a doctor or clinic and a pharmacy that stocks EC ideally within twenty-four hours (EC works for seventy-two hours, but less effectively as time goes on), is clearly too cumbersome. In a few states -- California and Washington, for example -- pharmacists can dispense it directly, which is better, but still an unnecessary complication.

You would think that anti-choicers would leap to embrace emergency contraception, which, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, already prevents 51,000 abortions a year, making it a significant, if little-noted, factor in the decline in abortion. This is the Bush Administration, though, in which science and women's rights and the actual, factual lessening of the need for abortion are all less important than "values" -- i.e., the narrow ideology of the Christian right. In December, forty-four Congressional Republicans sent a letter to the FDA advisory committee urging its members to reject OTC status: EC "stacked casually on shelves next to toothpaste and cough drops" would allow "our schoolchildren" easy access to a drug that, according to Jesse Helms, is an "abortifacient." After the committee endorsed it, forty-nine Congressional Republicans sent another letter, this time expressing alarm at "the impact this decision will have on the sexual behavior of adolescents." On February 16, FDA head Mark McClellan (brother of Bush press secretary Scott McClellan) postponed the agency's decision; now he's leaving to take charge of Medicare, and EC risks being delayed again by future appointees.
Years ago, pundits scoffed when prochoicers argued that antis would target birth control too if they could. EC primarily works by preventing ovulation and fertilization, but like the birth control pill, it may also prevent the implantation of a fertilized egg in the womb. As Gloria Feldt, head of Planned Parenthood, pointed out when I spoke to her by phone, "antichoice people are trying to redefine pregnancy to begin at fertilization rather than implantation," which is the medical definition of pregnancy, and EC is the wedge. If EC is a "human pesticide," so are the Pill, the patch, injectables. If "schoolchildren" ought not purchase EC without parental supervision or knowledge, nor should they be able to obtain those forms of contraception without parental permission, as current law allows.

And if being able to purchase EC like "aspirin or hairspray" promotes promiscuity -- studies suggest, by the way, that it will not -- the same can be alleged of birth control in general. In fact, contraception has always been attacked as promoting loose morals among women (curiously, "schoolchildren" excepted, one hears less about the fact that condoms promote loose morals among men -- why not make them available only by prescription, too?).

Recently a pharmacist and two assistants at an Eckerts drugstore in Denton, Texas, refused to fill an EC prescription for a teenage rape victim (they were fired). In Virginia, state legislator Robert Marshall, who last year was able to prevent James Madison University from filling EC prescriptions, is noisily seeking to extend the ban to all the state's public colleges and universities. EC, he claims, turns young women into "chemical Love Canals for frat house playboys." Instead of the natural love canals God meant them to be?

This spurious concern for women's health is the cousin of the argument that abortion should be banned because it is "traumatic" for women -- a line that has persuaded the state legislature of South Dakota to pass a flagrantly unconstitutional ban on all abortions and that Norma McCorvey, Roe of Roe v. Wade, is pushing in her ridiculous attempt to get the decision overturned on the grounds that she has changed her mind -- about an abortion she never had.

Doctors and clinics are beginning to offer prescriptions for women in advance of need, which is great.

But women can be proactive too. At a recent demonstration in New York City, women symbolically handed EC pills to others, declaring their willingness to break the law to put the drug in the hands of any woman who needs it (it is illegal to give a prescription medication to someone for whom it has not been prescribed). Any woman with the right kind of birth control pills can package her own EC and share it; years ago, journalist Debbie Nathan would walk into Mexico from her home in El Paso, buy birth control pills for two dollars a cycle and make EC necklaces with foil, glitter and charms. Until women can pick up EC along with, yes, "aspirin or hairspray," that ingenuity and boldness is just what we need.

Katha Pollitt writes for the Nation.

2004 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

"In God's Eyes"

You are reading
In God's Eyes
Mary Jo McConahay, Pacific News Service
March 3, 2004

The ongoing controversy over same-sex marriages, sparked by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, a Catholic, has forced many members of America's single largest denomination to wrestle with their beliefs. The Church, which has lost the battle on contraception, now is trying to hold firm on gay marriage.

For the country's 65 million Catholics, President Bush's call for a constitutional ban against gay marriage throws a troubling new public spotlight on personal beliefs. But here in San Francisco, the fire seems hotter.

This is the epicenter of the new national controversy, where open gay marriages with civic approval began in February, and where the Church is facing all the elements of a battle that is magnified as the issue spreads nationwide:
bishops -- debilitated by the sex-abuse scandal -- condemning gay marriage; a laity split between opposition and acceptance; pro-gay marriage political leaders who may also be Catholic.

After only 36 days in office, Newsom stoked national debate to the conflagration point by ordering City Hall clerks to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The first marriage in the stately municipal rotunda joined two lesbian women who had lived together since l953; thousands followed. Civic authorities in New Paltz, NY and Portland, OR are already following Newsom's lead.

Mayor Newsom went to a Catholic university in Santa Clara, about an hour from San Francisco, and he and his wife Kimberly were married in an elegant ceremony in a Catholic church overlooking the city. Locals point to the possibility of some degree of conflict between what the mayor may have imbibed from Catholicism, and his defiance of both church and state laws.

Certainly, the Church sees it that way.

San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada reiterated that the Church demands "compassion and sensitivity toward homosexuals," and supports the kind of rights, benefits and protection of children that come with some legal civil unions. But he also reiterated that "marriage" must be between a man and a woman for procreation. Some fellow local Catholics, including some who had supported Newsom in elections, spoke of bewilderment and hurt.

"I never thought you would be so hostile to marriage as to promote a concept that has been repudiated for thousands of years, not just by the Catholic faith in which you were baptized, but historically by all other groups and civilizations," wrote one neighborhood pastor in an unanswered letter to the Newsom.

Yet, thousands of Catholics count themselves among the two-thirds of San Franciscans who polls show favor the marriages. Roman Catholicism remains the single largest U.S. religious denomination. Voting is encouraged from the pulpit. And despite the shame and vulnerability brought on bishops by the clerical sex abuse scandals, congregations do give weight to the bishops' word on matters of faith. Last summer Rome said Catholic legislators must not only vote against gay unions, but also "clearly and publicly" express opposition. Pope John Paul II underscored the obligation in a statement as same-sex couples received licenses here.

It is a dictum that may be causing some lawmakers to squirm in Massachusetts, home state of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry. In November, the state's Supreme Court ordered the legislature to draft a bill to legalize gay marriage by May. A majority of the body's 200 members is Catholic; bishops have written letters to more than one million rank and file Catholics to pressure them.

Worry that Catholic politicians answer to the Vatican alone, or even to their own religion, of course, was put to rest in the John F. Kennedy years. As a city supervisor in pre-election months, the Catholic Newsom drew women's votes when he pushed pro-abortion stands, which the Church condemns.

Another Catholic supervisor, also under consideration as a mayoral candidate, declared he was Catholic and had a big family "by choice," opposed abortion and effectively scotched his own chances for a run against Newsom.

Some Catholics say they wish the Church would be as forceful in condemning capital punishment as gay marriage. Others point out that decades ago the Church also condemned artificial contraception because it ran contrary to the Church's understanding of the aim of sexual union, procreation; yet today contraception is practiced by huge numbers of Catholics, without causing a crisis in their faith lives or much hierarchical notice.

Other Catholics simply regard the controversy over purely civil "marriages" as irrelevant, because the Church does not recognize two persons as being truly joined unless they are married in religious ceremony. The Church is not about to do that even if the state recognizes its legality.

For some gay Catholics, however, this is precisely the most hurtful understanding.

Peter Novak is one of at least three faculty members at the Jesuit University of San Francisco who have gone with their partners, sometimes waiting all night in pouring rain, to get marriage licenses. Novak, who has a doctorate from Yale but grew up in Flint, Michigan, says his traditional large Catholic family has been largely welcoming about his untraditional relationship with his partner of nine years; Novak's father, an ordained deacon, on hearing about the "wedding" asked where the couple might have a gift registry. But the drama professor does not believe his relationship will ever be recognized in the eyes of the Church he loves, which is "painful" and makes him feel "inferior."

"I view the Church as compassionate and struggling with the issue," says Novak. "I get support from individual church members -- what we call the Body of Christ -- and I can still separate that from the institution of the Church.

"It doesn't take away the pain, but I can still call myself Catholic."
2004 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.