Look at my scars

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2012/04/11/look_at_my_scars/

The remnants of my own illness have taught me that when it comes to difference, don’t stare — but don’t turn away

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
Tuesday, Apr 10, 2012

“Do I freak you out?” she had asked.

It was the kind of question adults rarely pose. But Abigail (a pseudonym, like some other names in this piece) is 8, and she doesn’t have any qualms about being direct. The person she was asking, my daughter Beatrice, likewise didn’t hesitate in her reply.

Abigail is new to our school this year. She is in every way a typical second-grader, except that she was born without a left hand. It’s a trait that makes her undeniably noticeable, and so, sometimes, people ask questions. Sometimes Abigail has questions of her own. Sometimes, when you’re different, you want to know.

When Bea told me what Abigail had inquired about a few weeks ago, I’d winced a little, wondering how my child had answered. Had she passed whatever test Abigail was giving? I know how frank Bea can be, how she walks behind me when we’re out in public, checking whether the shiny, taut expanse of bare skin on my scalp is visible. “Mom, your bald spot,” she’ll say when we’re in a restaurant, fussing with locks to try to hide the five-centimeter circle where, a year and a half ago, I had surgery to remove cancer.

I know that Abigail’s question haunts many of us who are physically different, in ways both small and large, either by birth or circumstance. It plagues my friend with accident scars on his legs, who’s already nervous about summertime and exposing his flesh at the beach this year. Maybe it’s a small yet indelible birthmark on the chin. Or it’s a big burn. Or a missing limb. Does this make you want to look, or want to look away? Do we make you uncomfortable? Do we freak you out?

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/11/look_at_my_scars/

New reports say earthquakes “man-made” by fracking

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Gop’s African American Sonder Commando Allen West suggests 80 House Dems are Communist Party members

Nothing is more pathetic than a red baiting Uncle Tom.

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/11/allen-west-suggests-80-house-dems-are-communist-party-members/

By David Edwards
Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tea party darling Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on Tuesday warned that as many as 80 Democratic lawmakers are members of the Communist Party.

Speaking to about 100 supporters and 15 protesters in Jensen Beach, the freshman congressman refused to name names after saying that that he had “heard” that 80 Democrats serving in the House of Representatives were secretly Communist Party members, according to the The Palm Beach Post News.

West also took the opportunity to blast President Barack Obama, who had spoken in Boca Raton earlier in the day about fairness in the tax code and policies to ensure millionaires paid as much in taxes as their secretaries.

“I really wish that, standing here before you, was Allen West and President Obama,” West told the crowd. “We could have a simple discussion. But that ain’t ever gonna happen.”

“Why not?” a member of the audience shouted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/11/allen-west-suggests-80-house-dems-are-communist-party-members/

Splitting Hairs: Is the LGBT Community Alienating Its Own?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-oliver/splitting-hairs-is-the-lgbt-community-alienating-its-own_b_1412191.html


Labels play a large role in society. Some choose not to identify with a label, while others find a sense of security in a label and use it to define who they are to others. Off the top of your head, how many labels can you think of for the LGBTQ community? Do certain groups not tolerate one another well? In history, the lesbian community and the gay male community have often been at odds. Some facets of the transgender community are hostile toward one another based on personal decisions regarding medical transition or one’s choice not to do so.

“Gay.” “Lesbian.” “Bisexual.” “Transgender.” “Pansexual.” “Genderqueer.” “Neutrois.” “Non-Identified.” “Queer.” “Femme.” “Butch.” The list goes on.

Have you seen examples of these groups alienating one another based on labels? I recently encountered a stream of vitriol aimed at me for being “genderqueer” — and for my choice not to medically transition. It was implied that I was “less of a man” and therefore somehow inferior to those who chose to take hormone replacement therapy. I asserted my views and tried for common ground. However, it fell upon deaf ears. I was firmly in the “we’re all men together, regardless of how we’re labeled” camp. Apparently, to this individual, that was the wrong place to be. I’ve also run into people labeling me or other lesbians based on our societal level of attractiveness. Lesbians, ever heard the “you’re too pretty to be gay!” argument? It exists.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/catherine-oliver/splitting-hairs-is-the-lgbt-community-alienating-its-own_b_1412191.html

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A French Feminist Fights the New Feminine Mystique

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/04/10/motherhood_has_replaced_wifehood_as_the_reason_that_women_must_squelch_their_own_ambitions_.html

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

It’s hard to come up with much better evidence for the taboo around criticizing the oppressive nature of competitive mommy devotion than Janice D’Arcy’s review of French feminist Elisabeth Badinter’s new book The Conflict: How Modern Motherhood Undermines the Status of Women. D’Arcy takes it as a given that there’s a protective shield around time-intensive parenting practices to keep anyone from observing out loud that it’s antithetical to feminism to demand such high levels of self-abnegation from women. She fears that anyone who breaches the taboo around pointing this out can expect to face a sea of angry people hellbent on silencing the errant observer. As I recently learned when arguing that the promotion of placenta-eating demotes new mothers to four-legged animals, these angry critics don’t really have an argument, but simply believe it’s out of line for a woman to criticize another’s “choices.” The problem is that said choices are usually made on pain of being considered bad, unnatural mothers if you opt out of them and choose to keep a bit of your life and body for yourself. I don’t know if Badinter mentions placenta-eating in her new book, but I’d really love to hear her thoughts on it.

Complete article at:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/04/10/motherhood_has_replaced_wifehood_as_the_reason_that_women_must_squelch_their_own_ambitions_.html

Big Brother ‘legal’ in US: Mumia Abu-Jamal exclusive to RT

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Robert Spitzer, Psychiatrist Behind Controversial ‘Ex-Gay’ Study, Retracts Original Claims

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/robert-spitzer-ex-gay-psychiatrist-retraction_n_1417679.html


In a move that will no doubt rankle the efforts of anti-gay institutions, the psychiatrist who published a controversial 2001 study proclaiming that “highly motivated” gay and lesbian people could change their sexual orientation is now retracting his initial claims.

Psychiatrist Bob Spitzer, who had ironically led the effort to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1973, told American Prospect that he now wants to retract his study, while addressing several of the ample criticisms against its findings.

“In retrospect, I have to admit I think the critiques are largely correct,” said the 80-year-old Spitzer, who is now retired and suffering from Parkinson’s disease. “The findings can be considered evidence for what those who have undergone ex-gay therapy say about it, but nothing more.”

After noting that failed attempts to rid oneself of homosexual attractions “can be quite harmful,” he then requested writer Gabriel Arana print a retraction of his 2001 study, “so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Interestingly, Arana claims to have undergone therapy for over three years with Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder and former president of the National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), in an effort to change his own sexual orientation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/robert-spitzer-ex-gay-psychiatrist-retraction_n_1417679.html

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If the Other Shoe Drops, I Want Medicare

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/11-11

Medicare for All, For Life

by Donna Smith
Published on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 by Common Dreams

There has never been any doubt in my mind that if I face another cancer diagnosis that requires prolonged treatments and has an uncertain outcome, I would rather die than fight it.  As an insured American who knows first-hand how quickly a cancer in my body turns to full out trauma in my career and in my finances, I just cannot do it again nor can I ask my husband to risk his own life and security either.  It wouldn’t be fair.

More than five weeks ago, when some of my cancer markers were elevated, I began the process of bartering with the insurance company, doing the tests they said would be covered, and then coming all the way back to the start to finally getting the tests my doctors originally ordered.  My full diagnosis and treatment considerations have been pending ever since, and that has given me time to think and to remember.  Waiting, worrying, and wondering.

It’s not that I believe every cancer is a death sentence.  I certainly know that isn’t the case.  I am a uterine cancer survivor.  My mom is a two time breast cancer survivor.  But I am 57 years old now — old enough to be an expensive liability in our society, especially if I get sick and need care, but too young to be covered by Medicare. If I face a serious illness like cancer again that costs me an awful lot in out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance and lost time from making the money we need for survival, I will doom my husband to struggles he doesn’t need and that are not his fault.  Bad enough that one of us should be sick, there is certainly no need for me to take him down with the ship.

I am not being morbid or feeling sorry for myself.  I am trying to be pragmatic as an American trying to maneuver our broken, for-profit healthcare system.  Working class people are expendable; sick working class people are costly.  Better to die quickly and get out of the way for another healthier, less expensive worker, and better not to suffer needlessly if the outcome will be lousy anyway.

Perhaps waiting so long and worrying has clouded my thought process a bit, but I know that when my Medicare-covered husband is ill, he feels worried and upset about his health.  When I am ill, I worry first about our finances, my job, and then finally about my health – being privately insured creates pressures that are very real and damaging.  So as I wait what seems like endless days waiting for the test results again since the initial insurance company denial of care delayed everything, I feel like I need a game plan in order to feel in control at all.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/11-11

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The 1% don’t want the poor to eat…unless it’s out of a trashcan

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Eurozone crisis now being felt in Asia, warns Asian Development Bank

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/apr/11/eurozone-crisis-asian-development-bank-warning

Growth in China, India and other developing countries hit by weak demand from Europe

guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 11 April 2012

Europe‘s sovereign debt crisis presents the greatest risk to Asian economies in the next 12 months, according to the Asian Development Bank, which fights poverty in the region. The Manila-based lender, which is backed by 67 countries, said in its annual health check of developing Asian economies that policymakers will need to boost spending at home to offset weak demand from Europe.

“The greatest risk to the outlook is uncertainty surrounding the resolution of sovereign debt problems in the eurozone,” it said, warning that policymakers must “follow the only half-resolved eurozone debt problems closely, and be ready to act.”

The ADB predicted that without a damaging new twist in the euro crisis, the countries it serves – which include China, India and Indonesia – will achieve average growth of 6.9% in 2012, slightly weaker than the 7.2% seen last year.

Joseph Zveglich, the ADB’s assistant chief economist, in London to launch the report, said Asian economies accustomed to rip-roaring growth rates in the boom years before the financial crisis must adapt to a new environment: “There is a need to adjust to what is likely to be a long, drawn-out soft patch in terms of the global outlook.” He said governments should continue to rebalance their economies away from the export-dominated model of the past model, towards more sustainable consumer demand at home.

The ADB rejects the much-feared idea of a “hard landing” for China, predicting instead that it will chalk up growth of 8.5% this year, and 8.7% in 2013 – weaker than the double-digit rates regularly seen in the decade before 2007, but still robust.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/apr/11/eurozone-crisis-asian-development-bank-warning

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