The Bishops’ Politics: Why Are Women’s Health and Lives Subject to The Catholic Lobby?

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/06/18/politics-catholicism-womens-health-and-hospital-mergers-3

by Imani Gandy
June 18, 2012

Many of the religions practiced in the United States support a woman’s right to access reproductive health care, including abortion and contraception, as a matter of free exercise of conscience.  The Catholic Church is the one of the few, if not the only religion that is fundamentally antithetical to any notion of women’s reproductive health, freedom, and justice.  Unfortunately, the Catholic Church as represented by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, more than any other, directly influences American politics.

Take, for example, the controversy that has been raging for the past four months about President Obama’s contraception mandate.  After Republicans lost their collective mind about access to contraception, whinging that President Obama was destroying the Constitution and the very fabric of society as we know it by daring to include women’s reproductive health under the rubric of the Affordability Care Act, President Obama offered an accommodation to religiously-affiliated employers that protested being required to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. The accommodation will allow such religiously-affiliated employers not to offer birth control; instead, insurance companies for those employers will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer.  Writing about the accommodation, Amanda Marcotte noted that Obama had punked the GOP: “Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception.”

In February – when Obama announced the accommodation – two entities on opposite sides of the birth control issue  (Planned Parenthood and the Catholic Health Association) were satisfied.  Sister Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association (“CHA”), noted, “The Catholic Health Association is very pleased with the White House announcement that a resolution has been reached that protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions.”  She further noted that the accommodation adequately responded to the concerns of the CHA: “The framework developed has responded to the issues we identified that needed to be fixed. We are pleased and grateful that the religious liberty and conscience protection needs of so many ministries that serve our country were appreciated enough that an early resolution of this issue was accomplished. The unity of Catholic organizations in addressing this concern was a sign of its importance. This difference has at times been uncomfortable but it has helped our country sort through an issue that has been important throughout the history of our great democracy.”

Four months later, however, the CHA has reversed its position in what can only be described as a flip-flop of epic proportions.  On Friday, the CHA sent a five-page letter to the Department of Health and Human Services stating that the accommodation no longer “adequately meet[] the religious liberty concerns.”  Odd — that wasn’t CHA’s position four months ago.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/06/18/politics-catholicism-womens-health-and-hospital-mergers-3

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Abstinence Only: Government Spends Millions on Controversial Program

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Nessie a Plesiosaur? Louisiana To Fund Schools Using Odd, Bigoted Fundamentalist Textbooks

From Talk2Action:  http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/6/17/9311/48633

Bruce Wilson
Sun Jun 17, 2012

“the [Ku Klux] Klan in some areas of the country tried to be a means of reform, fighting the decline in morality and using the symbol of the cross… In some communities it achieved a certain respectability as it worked with politicians.” – from Bob Jones University Press American history textbook

This 2012-2013 school year, thanks to a bill pushed through by governor Bobby Jindal, thousands of students in Louisiana will receive state voucher money, transferred from public school funding, to attend private religious schools, some of which teach from a Christian curriculum that suggests the Loch Ness Monster disproves evolution and states that the alleged creature, which has never been demonstrated to even exist, has been tracked by submarine and is probably a plesiosaur.The curriculum also claims that a Japanese fishing boat caught a dinosaur.

On the list of schools approved to receive funding through the new voucher funding, that critics warncould eventually cut public school funding in half, are schools that teach from the Christian fundamentalist A Beka Book, Bob Jones University Press, and Accelerated Christian Education curriculum.

What’s in that curriculum? Last year, researcher Rachel Tabachnick and I co-produced a 35-minute documentary on the spread of a similar voucher program in Pennsylvania and other US states, titled “School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry, and Bias”. Embedded at the end of this post is an eight-minute video segment from that documentary with scans from material in currently used A Beka Book and Bob Jones University Press texts (in this May 25, 2011 story Tabachnick provides quotes from those textbooks.)

One of the schools cleared to receive substantial new funding through LA governor Bobby Jindal’s voucher program is Eternity Christian Academy, in Westlake, LA, which according to Independent Weekly writer Walter Pierce,

“…has been approved to accept 135 new students. That’s a considerable uptick in enrollment, which at the end of this school year stood at 38 — a more than 300 percent increase. Talk about buttressing the budget; $1 million in tax dollars will be diverted from the public school system to Eternity Christian, a school that, according to its mission statement, offers “a quality faith-based curriculum that is soley [sic] based on principles from the Bible …”

Continue reading at:  http://www.talk2action.org/story/2012/6/17/9311/48633

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Right Wing Racist Arizona radio host voted for ‘the white guy’ because Obama is a ‘monkey’

The Racist Republi-Nazis aren’t even trying to hide their bigotry anymore.

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/19/arizona-radio-host-voted-for-the-white-guy-because-obama-is-a-monkey/

By David Edwards
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Conservative Arizona radio personality Barbara Espinosa is standing her statement that President Barack Obama is a “monkey” and that she voted for “the white guy.”

“I call him a monkey,” Espinosa recently told a guest on her KNFX radio show. “I don’t call him a guy with rabbit ears, I call him a monkey.”

“And I don’t believe in calling him the first black president,” she added. “I voted for the white guy myself!”

Espinosa later confirmed her statement in a blog posting on her website, “American Freedom By Barbara.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/06/19/arizona-radio-host-voted-for-the-white-guy-because-obama-is-a-monkey/

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What Part of ‘Austerity Isn’t Working’ Don’t People Get?

From Rolling Stone:   http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/what-part-of-austerity-isnt-working-dont-people-get-20120617

By Jared Bernstein
June 18, 2012

As I prepared for a talk on austerity last week, I found myself a bit stuck.  What can you say other than that it’s very clearly not working, nor should we expect it to, nor has it ever? And then I hit upon what I think is the key question: Why do governments stick with the austerity approach when all the evidence suggests it’s a total failure?

First, some facts. By austerity I mean attacking recession by cutting spending and raising taxes – the opposite of Keynesianism, which dictates that if the private sector isn’t spending enough money to get the economy moving, the government needs to temporarily step in and supply the juice (aka “stimulus”).  Europe and the UK are committed to austerity, and – not coincidentally – they’ve seen growth deteriorate and unemployment jump (to over 20 percent in Greece and Spain).  The figure below, from this excellent – and pretty readable – paper by economist Jay Shambaugh reveals the expected positive correlation between governments that cut spending and slower GDP growth.

Too bad for Europe, right? But, wait – we’re doing the austerity thing too, cutting spending as stimulus fades and failing to enact jobs measures, such as fiscal relief to cash-strapped state and local governments or public infrastructure investment – measures that appear more necessary with each new, disappointing economic report.

In a way, our austerity policies are actually less defensible than those in some European countries.  With the price of borrowing so extremely low here, capital markets are basically pleading for our government to borrow and get busy with temporary growth measures.  That’s not happening in Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Greece, and for good reason: government debt in those countries is highly risky, and priced accordingly.

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Euronews right on : The lack of women at the top

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The History of Supersizing: How We’ve Become a Nation Hooked on Bigger Is Better

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/food/155932/the_history_of_supersizing%3A_how_we%27ve_become_a_nation_hooked_on_bigger_is_better/

NYC’s recent ruling limiting the size of sugary drinks has spurred a lot of controversy. Is it stupid? Not if you know the history of supersizing.

By Jill Richardson
June 18, 2012

New York Mayor Bloomberg’s new rules limiting sodas and other sugary drinks sold in restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas, food carts and delis to 16 ounces has spurred a national debate. Should government limit our serving sizes? Bloomberg’s rules do not prevent a person from buying two, five or 10 16-ounce sodas and drinking them all in one sitting. They just prevent a restaurant from selling that much soda in one cup. Stupid rule? Not if you know the history of supersizing.

The idea can be traced back to a man named David Wallerstein, who ran movie theaters in the 1960s. He tried method after method to get his customers to buy more than one order of popcorn. Nothing worked. Then he realized why: people thought they would look like pigs if they bought two popcorns. So he tried increasing sales a different way, by offering a jumbo size popcorn. The trick worked. Popcorn sales went up.

Nowadays, this profit-boosting trick is the standard at any movie theater. Some theater chains require cashiers to inform every customer that they can have the next size up for an extra quarter or two. It’s a tiny amount of money to pay for a larger size of soda or popcorn, but for the theater, those extra few cents are nearly all profit. The labor costs them the same to sell you a small popcorn or a large one. The added cost of a box or a cup plus some syrup and water, or some popcorn, salt and seasoning is minimal. And you as the customer perceive this as a great value.

Wallerstein’s brilliant idea might have stayed in his theater chain, but in 1968, he became a director of McDonald’s. In the 1970s, the economy was not on McDonald’s’ side, and customers were visiting the restaurants less and less and then only buying very little. Wallerstein convinced the chain to offer larger sizes of fries to boost sales — and, of course, it worked. Incredibly, the large size of fries from the late 1970s is the small size of fries today! The same is true of other menu items. The largest soda in 1955 was a mere seven ounces, smaller than the 12-ounce child size offered today.

The economic crunch of the 1970s brought the chain another innovation as well: the value meal. Fries and sodas both have higher profit margins than burgers. Yet, while a penny-pinching diner might order a burger with no sides or drinks, nobody is going to come in for a meal and order a soda or fries without a burger. A McDonald’s franchisee named Max Cooper pushed the company to sell value meals and the rest is history.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/155932/the_history_of_supersizing%3A_how_we%27ve_become_a_nation_hooked_on_bigger_is_better/

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