You are browsing the archive for 2013 May 30.

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Breast Cancer on Your Mind? Then Work to Overthrow the Profit Driven Healthcare Industry!

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Jane McAlevey, AlterNet

Making money off illness is sickening. Depriving the needy of life-saving healthcare should be criminal.

Last month, I lost my too-young-to-die sister to a BRCA#1 breast cancer. When I was a toddler not yet in kindergarten, breast cancer robbed me of my mother. I am a BRCA#1 gene carrier, and recently wrote about it in my memoir, Raising Expectations and Raising Hell. Neither my sister nor my mother’s premature deaths, nor my own writing could possibly have turned BRCA#1 (and #2) into a household conversation the way a beautiful movie star could. Like millions of women, I have been reading the praise, the misogynist “jokes,” and the criticism being lobbed at Angelina Jolie.

The most urgent fact she left out of her op-ed, and that has received scant attention in the days since, is absolutely crucial: 70% of the BRCA#1 gene mutation breast cancers result in the most aggressive, least treatable form of breast cancer called the “triple negative,” a variation that more resembles ovarian than breast cancer genetically and which does not respond to any of the three main forms of treatment common among other breast cancers. The population next most likely to get triple negative breast cancer, after BRCA carriers, are African-American women.

According to Peggy Orenstein’s recent NYT Magazine cover story on the limits of the pink-fuzzy-teddy-bear breast cancer awareness movement, “Mammograms, it turns out, are not so great at detecting the most lethal forms of disease — like triple negative — at a treatable phase. Aggressive tumors progress too quickly, often cropping up between mammograms. Even catching them 'early,' while they are still small, can be too late: they have already metastasized.”

It’s safe to say that I am alive today, because after my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, she had the gene test done. The fact that she’s now dead and I am alive leads to a very particular kind of grieving, one that mixes guilt into an already heavy stew of sadness and sorrow. Had she gotten the same directives I did, would she still be alive? I am sharing my story …read more


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Cancel All Your Plans: Only Two Days Left of May Masturbation Month

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Emily Morse, Sex With Emily

Although self-love needs no excuse.

Cancel all your plans. There are only two days left of May Masturbation Month. So if you haven’t been masturbating non-stop (I know some of you are champions of this) then the time has come to do you!

The great thing about masturbating is you get to do whatever the hell you want. No one is judging your music taste or wondering why your face is grimacing and grunting. 

It's not a requirement to have sex with anyone else. You’re probably doing just fine on your own.

Alright, sex is sorta cool. But it’s even better if you can enjoy doing it on your own first. Or as Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “we must be our own before we can be another's.” I’m not sure if Emerson was referring to wanking it, but he was a poet so he probably was no stranger to masturbation.

Because you have to wait an year to devote an entire month to masturbation again, I’m giving away three special prizes over the last days of May. Be sure to follow me on Twitter and retweet me to win some amazing prizes from MasqueCrazy Girl, and Good Vibrations.

I’m even giving away the new and improved Original Magic Wand Vibrator, AKA the Cadillac of Vibrators. Ladies, if you’re not a champion of masturbation yet, this bad boy will get you there faster than you can say scream, “OMG I love orgasms.”

Don’t worry, if you’re panicked about missing the greatest month ever, you still have time to touch yourself. Masturbation Month is a reminder that masturbating should be celebrated all the time and never condemned. You can spend the rest of your life masturbating! 


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Black 14-year-old Carrying a Puppy Tackled and Choked by Police for Giving Them a "Dehumanizing Stare"

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

Grown police officers allege that the unarmed teen looked at them funny.

New cell phone footage shows Miami-Dade Police officers aggressively pinning an unarmed teen to the ground while choking him. His alleged crime: giving the officers “dehumanizing stares” and “clenching his fists.” 

Fourteen-year-old Tremaine McMillan says he was feeding his puppy and playing on the beach with some friends when cops riding ATVs approached him and asked what he was doing. The “peacekeeping” officers say they saw McMillan roughhousing with another teenager, told him it was “unacceptable behavior,” and asked where his mother was. When McMillan walked away, they chased him on ATVs, jumped out, pinned him to the ground and arrested him. According to police reports, McMillan “attempted to pull his arm away, stating, 'Man, don't touch me like I did something.'” See footage of the incident, captured by McMillan's mother:

McMillan says he obeyed orders, and was leading the officers towards his mother when they jumped him. The teen adds that he was holding and feeding his puppy at the time, who got injured during the encounter.

“I don’t like it. I feel sad. He got in front of me on the ATC (sic) and he slammed my hand,” McMillan said. “Then he started choking me. Then my 6-week old Pit Bull mix named Polo got hurt and bruised his front paw when the police grabbed me and slammed me down. It makes me feel sad.”

Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta justified the use of force, saying McMillan was exhibiting threatening “body language,” which includes “clenched fists.” McMillan adamantly denies this charge because, well, he was holding a puppy.

“Of course we have to neutralize the threat in front of us,” said Zabaleta.  “And when you have somebody that is being resistant, somebody that is pulling away from you, somebody that’s clenching their fist, somebody that’s flaring their arms, that’s the immediate threat.”

McMillan’s mother, Maurissa Holmes saw the incident and recorded it on her cell phone. She told WSVN-TV, “I ran over there and said, 'That's my son, that's my son. Can you get off of …read more


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El Salvador Court Denies Seriously Ill Woman Potentially Life-Saving Abortion

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Hsieh, AlterNet

The fetus stands practically no chance of survival.

El Salvador’s Supreme Court has denied a seriously ill woman a potentially life-saving abortion, even though her fetus stands practically no chance of survival.

Doctors say the 22-year-old woman, who uses the name “Beatriz” to protect her privacy, could face severe medical problems if she does not receive an immediate abortion. Beatriz has lupus, and her continued pregnancy could lead to hemorrhaging, kidney failure and even maternal death.

Medical tests confirmed that the fetus has anencephaly, meaning that it is missing large parts of its skull and brain. In virtually all cases, fetuses with anencephaly do not survive for more than a few hours or days after delivery.

El Salvador, a predominently Catholic nation, has one of the strictest abortion laws in the world. It is one of five countries with absolute abortion bans, even in cases of rape, incest or when the life of a pregnant woman is in jeopardy.

In a 4-1 decision, the nation’s highest court ruled that it is sticking to the “absolute impediment to authorize the practice of abortion,” adding that “the rights of the mother cannot be privileged over those” of the fetus. The court noted Beatriz’s lupus, but maintained that the threat to her life “is not actual or imminent, but rather eventual.” The ruling stated that if her life became in immediate danger, than doctors could proceed with action.

Beatriz’s case has become a high-profile battle in El Salvador, pitting international organizations, as well as human rights, feminist and pro-choice groups against the nation’s powerful Catholic lobby. As Feministing’s Katie Halper noted, “Both the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Inter-American Commission as well as Amnesty InternationalCare2Human Rights Watch and RH Reality Check called on the president to intervene and the Supreme Court to grant Beatriz an abortion.”

Beatriz’s lawyer called the decision, “misogynistic,” telling theNew York Timesthat,“The court placed the life of the anencephalic baby over Beatriz’s life.” The 22-year-old’s attorney, Víctor Hugo Mata, added that, “Justice here does not respect the rights of women.”

The case represents a …read more


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Sign of the Times

May 30, 2013 in Economics

By Christopher Westley

A new book by Portuguese economist João Ferreira do Amaral entitled Why We Should Leave the Euro is outselling Fifty Shades of Grey there. This makes sense given that both books center on painful relationships in which one party is being spanked and that are apparently difficult to dissolve. (h/t Bill Easterly)

…read more


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Beyonce's Pitch-Perfect Response to Getting Butt Slapped: An Example for Everybody

May 30, 2013 in Blogs

By Alyssa Figueroa, AlterNet

If Beyonce can call out sexism in front of a jam-packed concert venue, we can call out the injustices in front of a new group of friends.

The video of Beyonce getting butt slapped while performing in her concert at Copenhagen has gone viral.

If you haven’t seen it, here it is, but it's a little difficult to discern, so here's what goes down: While singing “Irreplaceable,” Beyonce reaches her hand down for fans to touch, then turns around and gets slapped in the butt by a male fan in the audience.

Her reaction? She gracefully turns around and states: “I will have you escorted out right now, alright?”

Rumor has it that the fan was allowed to stay for the rest of the show. (What gives?) But it’s important to point out how pitch-perfect Beyonce's response is. She doesn’t ignore the sexism in fear of creating an awkward moment at her concert, nor does she kick him in the face with her shiny heel. Instead, in an almost instinctual fashion, she addresses him and tells him, in front of thousands of people, that what he did was wrong. She then continues to shine on stage.

It all seems so simple. But in everyday life, we often choose to not take those significant, small stances.

Besides slapping women’s butts, I’ve seen (and experienced) men unnecessarily put their hands all over women’s bodies. Don’t even get me started with the small of the back — (no, your hand does not need to be there for us to have a conversation or for me to move forward so you can pass, just say “excuse me.”) But no matter how much we rage about it or know it’s wrong, too often, in the moment, we let it pass. Sometimes it doesn’t seem worth breaking up a good time, making a situation awkward, possibly losing friends over, etc.

And this isn’t a situation solely experienced by women (although these specific cases should be viewed as a manifestation of patriarchy). What do you do when someone in your new group of friends says a racist joke? How do you respond to …read more


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Our American 'Modern Family' Is Now Old Hat

May 30, 2013 in Economics

By Walter Olson, Steve Pippin

Walter Olson and Steve Pippin

As thousands protested the recent legalization of gay marriage in France — and the U.S. Supreme Court gets ready to weigh in on the issue in June — HuffPost’s “International Spotlight” presents the views of three gay couples, all raising children, in France, the U.S. and also Canada, where gay marriage has been legal for eight years. Tomorrow: France.

The United States is seen as distinctively ‘conservative’ among the world’s great nations, yet it’s also the world’s arch-incubator of innovative social change.”

Because Modern Family is our son’s favorite TV comedy, we once asked him which of the characters he thinks he’s like. His first choice was Luke, the youngest Dunphy kid, whose role is famously written to sound like a real 13-year-old instead of a sitcom 13-year-old. Then he thought of Manny, the son of the Sofia Vergara character, who’s “like me because he doesn’t have any brothers or sisters” (or at least didn’t then). “Besides,” he added thoughtfully, with a glance at us, “his dad’s really old.” Wincing at that, and happy to change the subject, we asked whether he identified with Lily, the toddler being raised by the Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson characters. Oh, definitely, he said: “She has silly daddies.”

Perhaps we were preordained, or at least self-selected, to play the role of silly daddies: As guys of our ilk go, we’re ultra-stable, low-drama types with a 30-foot-deep nesting instinct and scant interest in nightlife. Before we got around to considering parenthood seriously, several parents in our circle of mostly straight friends had urged us to do so.

It was the women especially who kept pushing. “Have you ever considered becoming a parent?” an Obviously Competent Mom would say over the second glass of wine. “You should.”

“Thanks. I see the logic and value in the vote of confidence, but don’t you think as a parent I would count as adorably clueless?”

“Guess what? I was too!” our O.C.M. would reply. “So are most of us when we start. You’d be surprised how fast you learn. Most of all, your kid does the teaching.”

That helped, but it took more. Around 2002 or so, the comedian and talk-show personality Rosie O’Donnell stirred up a big media fuss against laws in the state of Florida that kept gay persons from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

We’ve never seen any of O’Donnell’s shows, but she made a difference for us. Before …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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European Countries Can't Continue on Their Spendaholic Track

May 30, 2013 in Economics

By Veronique de Rugy

Veronique de Rugy

The European Union is the latest in a series of international bureaucracies to make the case that European countries should ease their stance on austerity. The underlying assumption behind this new policy position is that so far austerity has failed. If by that one means that the large tax increases implemented by European countries were counter-productive, then that is correct. But if it means that European countries have implemented savage spending cuts, then it is incorrect.

Unfortunately, the idea that austerity has failed in Europe is evidence of the lack of clarity that has obscured most of the debate so far. Let’s be clear: European countries do not have the luxury of continuing on their current fiscal path. Who could argue, for instance, that it would have been better for Greece to continue on its spendaholic track? For many European countries, the lack of austerity means more deficit spending, which likely will trigger large increases in interest rates, debt restructuring (read defaults), capital levies and even more weakness in the banking sector.

The second problem with this simplistic view is that it fails to recognize that in the pursuit of austerity, the important question has less to do with the size of the austerity package than what type of austerity measures are implemented. Austerity can take different forms. It can be achieved by cutting spending or by raising taxes. Alternatively, austerity can be achieved by adopting a mix of spending cuts and tax increases.

The general consensus in the academic literature is that the composition of fiscal adjustment is a key factor in achieving successful and lasting reductions in debt-to-GDP ratio. The work of economists at Harvard University, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, among others, has shown fiscal adjustment packages made mostly of spending cuts are more likely to lead to lasting debt reduction than those made of tax increases.

Most countries, it turns out, implemented spending cuts in name only and these cuts were often overwhelmed by much larger tax increases. While the finding that spending cuts are more effective at achieving debt reduction is not controversial, there is still significant debate about the short-term economic impact of fiscal adjustments. There are, however, some clear lessons:

1) Expansionary fiscal adjustments are possible.

2) While fiscal adjustment may not always trigger economic growth, spending-based adjustments are much less costly in terms of output …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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'Robin Hood' Tax Will Not Make Markets More Stable and Might Hurt Economic Growth

May 30, 2013 in Economics

By Dalibor Rohac

Dalibor Rohac

The Financial Transaction Tax (FTT), which is to be adopted in 2014 by 11 eurozone countries, has come under a lot of flak lately.

Most recently, Sir Mervyn King said he could not “find anyone in the central banking community who thinks it’s a good idea.”

Even the Italian government, initially committed to adopting an FTT, is now having second thoughts — particularly because the tax will affect secondary trading in government bonds.

An FTT might have unpleasant unintended consequences, damaging economic growth on the European continent and beyond.”

In stark contrast, Algirdas Šemeta, the European Commissioner for taxes, claims that the levy of 0.1% on equity and fixed income transactions and 0.01% on derivatives is a response “to the persistent demands of their citizens, who have long called for a harmonized FTT in Europe. The levy will ensure that the under-taxed financial sector finally makes a fair contribution to the public purse.”

Besides generating significant new revenues to cash-strapped European governments, “it should help to deter the irresponsible financial trading that contributed to the crisis we are in today,” says Mr. Semeta.

However, there is very little rationale for such claims.

If adopted, an FTT will not be a boon for public budgets — nor is it likely to prevent financial crises. Instead, it might have unpleasant unintended consequences, damaging economic growth on the European continent and beyond.

The proponents of the tax argue that an FTT will reduce speculative and irresponsible trading, which was allegedly behind both the financial crisis of 2008 and the sovereign crisis in Europe.

But even if one believes that the ability to trade instantly, at practically zero cost, has helped to spread the panic, an FTT is not going to help.

Growing Volatility

There is no evidence that an FTT would moderate market volatility — and attenuate sudden shifts of mood on financial markets.

A recent report by Anna Pomeranets from the Bank of Canada concluded that there have been instances when an FTT led to an increase in volatility — most significantly on the New York Stock Exchange and the American Stock Exchange, between 1932 and 1981, where increases in the FTT were associated with rising volatility, increased bid-ask spreads, and lower trading volumes.

Similarly, the idea that capital is under-taxed in current tax regimes is mistaken.

If anything, tax systems that rely on the taxation of income tend to tax savings more heavily than consumption.

An additional levy on …read more

Source: OP-EDS